Leaving Woodland Friday morning, I arrived in Madrid Saturday morning. Then a long wait at the airport for the bus to León. At least it was a Supra bus, meaning free food and drink (including wine and beer) on board. Arrived around 7 pm for a short walk to my pensión. On Sunday it was a rest up day, but I also met up with Austrian (Gerhard and Chris) and German (Renate and Uwe) friends, all of whom I met 3 years ago on the Camino Portugues. They just walked into León on the Camino Francés, then will take a train to Santiago to walk the Camino Finisterra. We spent a leisurely afternoon and evening visiting the cathedral and enjoying a meal together, getting caught up on old times.
Today I started my own Camino in León about 8 am. The first 7 or 8 km were the usual dreary suburban sidewalks of most large cities. Eventually, the camino became a rocky dirt path leading away from the city. Some was open scrub brush and some nicely shaded oaks. The middle 16 or so km was on a rocky path with not another person around, except in some of the small villages I passed through. There were a few steep ascents and descents today but nothing too long as the path mainly went uphill following the Rió Berengsa. Total elevation gain was about 1300 feet, but the net gain was only 400 feet. Total walk was 28 km or about 17 miles. Not bad for 6 hours of walking on this first camino day by such an old 64 year old. Sure I am tired and a bit sore, but that is to be expected.
I arrived at the albergue about 2 pm, but everything was locked up with a telephone number that one must call to have it opened. A problem since I do not have a phone that works in Spain. While i was pondering what to do next, another walker showed up, luckily a Spaniard from Alicante, also walking this camino. Of course, he did have a cell phone, so the problem was solved. So far, we are the only two people in this albergue, quite a difference from the hundreds of pilgrims each day on the Camino Frances.
Tomorrow will be a more difficult day It will be 15 miles, but I will really get into the mountains with an elevation gain of 1600 feet, most of it in one long steep climb in the middle of the walk. Weather has been good, very cool in the mornings, with highs in the 70's in the afternoon, nice breeze blowing, too. However, the midweek forecast is for possibility of rain showers.