Camino Francés 2015

Day 6: Sunrise at Alto do Perdón

July 3, 2015
Pilgrim statues at sunrise

I left the albergue at 5:30 this morning to beat the heat and was so glad I hadn’t tried to walk up to the Alto do Perdón yesterday afternoon.

The full moon was shining on the white pathway that wound its way up the mountainside. White flowers glowed on the edge of the trail and little red lights shone from the wind turbines. Every time I turned around, the lights of Pamplona were  spread out in the valley below, backed up by the mountains I crossed only a few days ago.

Although I had intended to watch the sunrise in silent meditation with the metal sculpture of pilgrims, my plans were foiled because it was already quite crowded up there as a group of Italian students had made their way up before me and another group twenty-something Italians were going through their morning ablutions after camping out on the ridge.

Backpacker at Alto do Perdón at Sunrise

The author at Alto do Perdón at Sunrise

Instead, I asked someone to take a photo of me then made my way down the rocky trail toward Santiago…

Note: You can read more about my switch from the Camino del Norte to the Camino Francés after nine days here and here.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Jeremy Deedes July 3, 2015 at 08:54

    Amazing. Rather ‘Seventh Seal’ except going east to west.

  • Reply Jeremy Deedes July 4, 2015 at 01:23

    Elissa, a 1950’s Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman set in the time of the Black Death in which a Knight returning to his home from the Crusades challenges Death to a game of chess. Essentially a pilgrimage, the Knight meets other wanderers, good and bad, on his journey and his interactions with them affect his moves on the chess board.

    The final, iconic scene is a band of people being led away along the ridge of a hill in silhouette, meriting visual comparison with your photo.

    The difference on a deeper level is that in the film they move west to east in ignorance and fear towards darkness and the storm. In your photo the silhouette pilgrims travel east to west seeking light, enlightenment and understanding as, I think, do you and all pilgrims.

    • Reply Sometimes She Travels August 25, 2015 at 21:50

      Wow Jeremy, that is quite profound. I often struggle with processing metaphors and this one is no exception, but it definitely merits further contemplation on my part and I think it may be more of a metaphor for my own journey this summer than either of us could have guessed when you originally wrote the comment.

  • Reply Holly July 17, 2015 at 16:06

    I love seeing Alto del Perdón in the early dawn with all those twinkling little lights in the background. Lovely! Must have been much cooler to climb at that time of day.

  • Reply Christine Swint July 24, 2015 at 07:14

    Sounds like you had a magical experience on the Alto del Perdón. I was there in the heat of the day, and going down felt punishing on my feet. I kept thinking that I needed to “pardon” or forgive the mountain for causing me such a painstaking descent! Anyway, I certainly needed some humor to get me to the other side…

    • Reply Sometimes She Travels July 24, 2015 at 08:24

      It was lovely, Christine. One of the things I enjoyed most about walkingx the Camino a second time was the ability to walk different stages. As a result, I was able to see different places at different times of the day, which completely transformed my experience of them. Last year I also reached the Alto in the heat of the day after a long hot climb and walk from Pamplona. It was fine; I was glad to see it but it definitely ddi not have the same “magic” that seeing it at sunrise did.

    What are your thoughts?

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