Wake at 6 4.30am. Fitful sleep until 6.30am. Up and packed. Breakfast. Sit and wait for light. Very chilly as we walk up the mostly abandoned street of Foncebadon (1500m high). Behind us the sun rises in a distant gloom of airborne particulate matter. What it is we don’t know. The classic ball of red fire greets the frosty hill. It takes 2 hours for us to thaw out. Legs and feet that tentatively found their first weight earlier are now warming to the task and we cover the 2km to Monte Irago (1504 m) and the Cruz de Ferro where we add our stones to the milladoiro (mound of stones), continuing an ancient tradition of throwing away symbolic weights or sins. It is a poignant moment and many pilgrims are gathered in the early dawn light to share this great experience.
The camino passes quickly under our feet until we decide at Riego de Ambros that another 5km downhill to Molinesca will aggravate our injuries and prevent us walking tomorrow. Dee sticks out a thumb and we are often disappointed until our dreadlocked knight comes to the rescue. We communicate poorly yet our host manages to give us a “guided tour”of the road and sights to Ponferrada where he drops us near the cuidad, or old town centre. The Hostal La Encina is central and well appointed. Lunching with an obligatory vino we begin to plan our next assault on the camino.
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