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After a long/short nights sleep due to creaking bed frames, snoring pilgrims, and the other joys of hostel living, we woke up at 5:45 to get ready and enjoy the early start and cooler morning air. We heading downstairs to exit the hostel, not exactly sure where the start was (a minor detail we had neglected in the prior day’s excitement). Our preoccupation was assuaged upon opening the door to a string of travelers walking silently up the darkened street. Their weighty packs lent sufficient credibility and so we followed, a quiet kinship quickly forming. We proceeded into the line of walkers with excited chills as the dark skyline adopted a mild orange horizon.

We pressed on in the dark, corn crops silhouetted against the continually lightening sky. The road took us up and up, as we were warned it would. As we rose, so did Jeanie’s blood sugar, leading to high thirst and accompanied exhaustion. Each step appeared laborious as she willed herself to continue upward. It was a striking view, but the blood glucose levels continued climbing to a point of concern. Although she was low on energy, and hadn’t eaten in the morning, she didn’t want to take in food when her levels were now over 200. She bolused (took insulin) to correct for the highs, and we took a few water breaks and adjusted our pace. Despite the adjustments and early morning sleepiness, we were drinking in the vibrant green and the growing distance between us and ever-shrinking St. Jean.

Finally we reached some level ground and Jeanie was able to get her morning coffee. We enjoyed a few minutes of reprieve and then yes, ever upward we continued. And you know what happens when you “upward” in the Pyrenees mountains on a lovely September day? Wind. Wind that has been specially designed to blow unseasoned pilgrims off the trail, and in one lady’s case, completely over. We loved watching the sheep and unfenced cows, but we moved at snail pace as we would sometimes lift our feet only to set them down in the same spot moments later, truly unable to move forward.

After five more hours, we entered a relieving sheltered section, met a few comparatively mild uphills, and then engaged in the long steep descent into the city where we would be staying. What would normally take about 7 hours, had taken us nearly 9 through the gusting hills.

We waited another hour in line for a room at the local albergue (hostel type accommodation), and agreed that it was what Jeanie likes to call an “earn a burger day.” After said hamburger, we headed back to the hostel and will be calling it at early night! 18 miles later, we are hoping our bodies will recover quickly to take on the 17 of tomorrow!

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