If you read to the end of yesterday's post, you saw the view outside my lodging's window. Photo 1 shows you the same view at 7 am this morning. Yes, there is snow on the ground and it is May 16.
The walk through the snow was frigid but beautiful. (Photo 2) At this point I was still at about 3700 ft and thought the snow would subside at lower elevations.
It did, but it turned into rain, which followed me all day. (Photo 3)
The first real stop was in Tricastela, so-called for 3 castles that no longer exist.
Coming into the city by the trail, I saw a very old gnarled tree. (Photo 4) It is distinctive because it is 800 years old and still blooming. It caught my eye because it is a Chestnut tree, which is very plentiful in Galicia. They even have a festival called "Magosto" in November when they harvest the nuts, which are eaten by animals and people. Sadly, we no longer have these trees in the US due to a blight that wiped them out in the 20's. They were all along the trail and their trunks are so artistic - and great for woodworking.(photo 5)
Triacastela was also the home of a very simple church dedicated to Santiago. Again, I was impressed by the serene simplicity of its interior (photo 6) and the iron gates that closed over the front doors with a beautiful clam motif. (Photo 7)
Leaving Triacastla, there were two choices: one followed a road and led to a populous city, but added miles to the overall trip. The other was shorter and went up into the mountains. I chose the latter and was surprised how few pilgrims I saw on this trail. It was like a hike on the Appalachian Trail for the next 8 miles, complete with rain and fog. There were no little villages to provide a break and there was continuous climbing and descending, but always on a well-marked path or country road. Just when I wasn't sure if I was on the right track, I came upon this fountain in the middle of nowhere dedicated to pilgrims. (Photo 8) I have no doubt that on a sunny day this would be the trail of choice, but as I've said before, I felt right at home, rain and all. Looks just like West Virginia.
I do have great sympathy for "through hikers" on the Appalachian trail who have to camp out in this weather. Although I got pretty drenched, I knew I could get dry at the very comfortable Casa Cines in Pintin where I had booked a room. It was an oasis in a very rural setting - quite modern. Although they had 7 rooms, I was the only one there. (Michele went ahead to an albuergue.) It was run by a husband and wife who were babysitting their two adorable grandchildren. I felt like I was staying in their home (actually they did live there) and they took such good care of me. They helped me dry my clothes and they made me a delicious meal of spinach, pork and potato soup, steak and potatoes. The dessert was Tarte de Santiago, which I have had for 3 days in a row. It is the desert of the region, a kind of dense, single layer almond flavored cake. It makes me think of how everyone is served Derby Pie when they visit Louisville. This Tarte even comes pre-made because I saw the box on a bar in another cafe -- just like Derby Pie.
Tomorrow I arrive in Sarria, which is 100 kilometers to Santiago. This is the starting point for many pilgrims because it is the shortest distance you can do and still get your Compostela. We have already done over 600 K, about 380 miles.