One Up On Emilio Estevez

As I’m currently both alive and in Roncesvalles, that means I’m technically one up on Emilio Estevez, almost certainly for the first time in our lives.

By that, I mean that Daniel Avery, the fictional character he plays in “The Way”, attempts to do what I have just done – cross the Pyrenees from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles on his first Camino, but it all ends in a rather terminal failure.

It’s not a plot spoiler to have mentioned that, as “The Way” then pays tribute to his intentions in a way that made me want to follow suit.

There are plenty of forlorn tributes to fallen Peregrinos along the path to emphasise that Daniel’s fate is not just a Hollywood plot device – this first stage takes you from 170m above sea level way up to 1450m and then back down to 950m again, and it’s no surprise that some have faltered on their path.

I’m therefore quite thankful to have made it in good time to the refuge of an enormous medieval monastery and it’ll be time for dinner soon – I hope it’s not lentil soup again…

I think I need to be especially thankful to the enormous rolling bank of grey and cooling clouds that have hooded the Pyrenees for most of the day – I think they have just followed me from Iceland and I’m glad they did.

Perfect walking conditions!

Better than that, the mist often obscured the road ahead, reducing apprehension levels accordingly.

The silence was wonderful – just the occasional cowbell (on sheep, horses and cows) to break the sound of your breathing and the crunch of your footsteps.

The cowbells prompted a Proustian recollection of Franz Klammer – I wonder how he is…

Reviewing the day that’s passed, it’s been fascinating, for any number of reasons.

As I was labouring my way up the mountains on the “Napoleon Way“, I couldn’t help think even more poorly of the egotistical little git.

Undercutting the values of the French Revolution in pursuit of personal glory in a self aggrandising series of campaigns that laid waste to much of Europe was bad enough. But now I better understood what it really meant to make his armies march over the Pyrenees and then expect them to fight some sort of actual battle once they got there.

Let me tell you, staying at home and having a coffee would have been a superior option, M Bonaparte.

Or just going for a nice walk.

What about that?

Accommodation Report:


Slept on a single bed with two latecomers sharing a bunk bed.


Snorers – 2 out of 3, but not me, apparently!

No bedbugs, no mosquitoes.


Health Report:

Left Foot has swiftly shrugged off the effects of its defeat in Biarritz.

Right Foot continues to smirk at Left Foot about that, but there’s time for that all to change.

No blisters, no hot spots, no worries at all.

The Slovenian girl in the bunk above me tonight has offered some Eastern European foot cream – how sweet.

Left Shoulder complained a little on the downhill stretches this afternoon, which is odd as Right Shoulder usually feels like a cement mixer when it’s rotated.

Trips, Slips and Falls: 0

Applications of Factor 50, even though it wasn’t sunny: 4

Filling of Water Bottles: 4

Number of times “Buen Camino” was said: 250, at least.

Stupid Juvenile Observation: this design fail

All in all, a good start.

4 thoughts on “One Up On Emilio Estevez

  1. Ian

    It’s all going very smoothly it sounds. Are the hills alive with the sound of many other Pilgrims? What was the meal like at Roncy? I’m still fence sitting on my departure date but in a month I hope not to be eating lentil soup. Zubiri tonight I guess? I hope that mist lifted and you saw some views.


    1. Hi Ian – apologies for the delayed response! I’ve only met four other Brits so far, let alone any more Pilgrims! The Roncy meal was alright – a vegetable soup and a leg of chicken and chips, but served in a hurry. Zubiri was a fun night out, as has been the day here in Pamplona too – a much better day, weatherwise too!


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