Monday, 3 October, 2016
When the church bells woke me that morning at 07:00, I was so comfortable in bed that I was sorely tempted to roll over and stay for another hour. But the nagging ache in my big toe reminded that all was not well. The nail had gone brown and black and had started to pull away from the flesh. It was bothering me the previous evening, and I must have caught it on the sheets when turning over during the night.
My hostess told me that there was no pharmacy between Ziga and Pamplona, some 50 km away, but she supplied me with some gauze and sticky tape, and I was able to carefully wrap the toe, hopefully avoiding further damage.
So off I set to cover the 25 km to Lantz, via a 600 m ascent over the mountain.
The road from Ziga climbed steadily, passing through the little neighbouring villages of Berroeta and Almándoz. At Venta San Blas I left the road behind and the path zig-zagged up through the forest. Everywhere the ground was covered with a thick layer of autumn leaves, and the sky was a piercing blue. It was a glorious autumn day.
In the entire day, the only people I saw were two men hunting for mushrooms. They told me that I had a long way to go to Lantz. I did not need reminding of that fact. They also said that the markings were quite faded and to watch out for false paths.
There were two high points with a significant dip between them. That part was very wet, the rocks were slimy and very slippery, and all was coated in a thick layer of leaves and mud. It seemed that the sun never reaches that area and I made very slow progress, trying to ensure that I did not once more sprain my ankle.
When I finally emerged from the marshy area and passed over the second high point into warm sunshine, the going came suddenly easier, for the ground was dry and the views were stunning.
A few minutes later I passed the newly built Ermita de Santiago.
At the end of the valley below was the XII century pilgrim hospital of Santa Maria de Belate.
At this point the normal pilgrim route through the forest was closed, due to forestry work, and a temporary route had been marked, following the busy main road for about four km, until it re-joined the historic path. The deviation added another three km to my total hike for the day.
I was footsore and quite weary when I finally reached Lantz. Once more the accommodation was excellent, the hostess extremely hospitable and helpful.
And that first beer went down without touching the sides.
When I finally took off my boots and socks, I found that my injured toe had come through the day surprisingly well.
So one more day to go to Pamplona.