Today we crossed the Sierra de los Ancares within the Cantabrian mountain range. We ascended from a height of 1154 meters above sea level at Rabanal del Camino to a high of 1500 m at Cuz de Ferro. We then descended into the valley to Molinaseca which is at 580 m. All in a distance of about 25 k. To give some perspective, Collingwood is at 191 meters above sea level and the highest point in the Niagara Escarpment in the Blue Mountains/Grey/Bruce Counties is at the 540 m mark.
It was a very hazy day, so the photos do not do it justice. Suffice to say that I was a slow walker today. I was stopping every 10 steps to take a photo and trying to walk with my head cocked sideways to enjoy the view. I was also having a hard time talking myself out of plopping onto the side of the trail for the rest of the day to enjoy the view whilst contemplating the meaning of life.
There is a ritual at Cruz Ferro (iron cross). You bring a stone from home and place it under the cross. See the large pile of stones? Each represents one Peregrino's sins. Each person leaving his/her sins behind as they reached this "Gate of Pardon". Religious folks can do a pilgrimage to receive pardon for their sins and at this point, even if you are not able to complete the journey you get your pardon. For the non religious, you can use the alternate interpretation - the stone represents burdens you are leaving behind.
One thing which is quite different on this route is the number of people who send their packs ahead by taxi so they don't have to carry them. I must say it is odd to see Peregrinos without a large pack.
It is Mothers Day, so we checked into a little better accommodations for the night. Our feet are tired, not so much from the altitude of the climb and descend, but more because of the rocky trail most of the way. We are off now to find a good place for a meal. Today's walk has left us rather hungry!