Walking the Camino del Norte: Sobrado to Arzúa

The Day It Poured Sideways:

Sometimes it rains. But rarely does it rain like it did on our 33rd day of walking the Camino del Norte.

We left the monastery in Sabrado early, walking into a warm morning that appeared to be the start of a perfect day for walking the 14 miles that would lead us to the town of Arzúa.

We knew that there would be limited facilities along the route and we knew that there was a chance of rain in the afternoon, but we had plenty of food and raingear in our backpacks. The only thing different about this morning on the Camino was that Lizz and I would mark our 400th mile walked.

We marked this with very little fanfare because we actually separated pretty early in the day. I was feeling really tired after an uncomfortable night of sleep in the stuffy monastery, so I pulled off the road and took a brief nap in a sunlit pasture while Lizz and Alicia walked on.

When I woke up, I looked at my mileage and realized that it was right there in that pasture where we hit 400 miles. After building a little mile marker with branches and taking a picture for Lizz, I got back on the road.

400 miles walked on the Camino del Note
400 miles walked!

As expected, there were very few places to stop on this particular stretch of the Way, so a couple of hours later, I was on the lookout for a place to rest my feet and to change my socks (being rather militant about keeping my feet dry was the only way to keep my blister-prone feet happy.)

I spotted a sweet little house with a bench on the side of the road that was clearly intended for pilgrims, so I took the cue and settled onto the bench, enjoying the sunshine on my face.

I waved a sock at a fellow pilgrim named Roger who meandered by, and he waved back in recognition. It was nice to see a familiar face; I hadn’t seen a soul since parting ways with Alicia and Lizz earlier in the day.

Goose on the Camino del Norte
Animals were the only sign of life on the Camino del Norte from Sobrado to Arzúa

A few minutes later, I received a text message from Lizz who said that Roger had just passed them. They were on a rest break just minutes in front of me. I almost threw my shoes back on to catch them, but I was so comfortable on that sunny bench that I chose to wait just a few more minutes before moving.

This would prove to be a very wise choice.

Pin from a rainy walk on the Camino del Norte
Pin for later

Sideways Rain and Pelting Hail on the Camino del Norte

I heard it before I felt it. A loud plop. It didn’t make any sense, though, because the sun was shining. I looked around for the source of the sound, confused. The confusion didn’t last long. That first raindrop was followed by another and another; in moments it was pouring and the sun was hidden behind the meanest cloud that I’ve ever seen.

I scrambled to put my shoes back on and lept from the bench into the meager shelter of a lone tree while I located my raincoat and slung a waterproof cover over my backpack. I watched as the lone tree bent nearly sideways in the wind. This storm was no joke and I had no cover.

That’s when I heard the voice of a woman. The owner of the bench for pilgrims was standing on her porch and shouting in Spanish at the top of her lungs; the noise barely reached me over the rage of the storm but the message was clear: GET IN HERE!

I made a run for it and huddled on her steps while she paced back and forth muttering what sounded like prayers.

Water rushed in a current down the street and hail pounded the tin roof that covered the porch. There was no word from Lizz.

Concern for my Fellow Pilgrims on the Camino del Norte

When it seemed like the storm was lightening up, that sweet woman who gives pilgrims a place of refuge gave me an umbrella, and I ventured out onto the rainsoaked route of the Camino de Santiago.

I was seriously worried about Lizz and Alicia and I grew more and more worried as I walked. There was no shelter anywhere. No houses, no bus stops, no substantial tree covering, nothing. I had literally stopped at the last source of shelter for four miles.

When I arrived in Arzúa, I was relieved to see Alicia’s boots in the entryway of the hotel that we had booked in advance. They must have made it!

I found Lizz and Alicia inside the hotel, freshly showered and ringing out their clothes. They had walked through the dangerous storm and Alicia, who didn’t own a cover for her backpack, was still surveying the damage to her drenched belongings.

Lizz and I left Alicia to do laundry, heading for a long dinner – our last before the Camino del Norte would merge with the Camino Frances, which is the most well-traveled route to Santiago. It was strange to think that our pilgrimage was almost over.

Our rain-wrinkled hands held wine glasses that clinked together with a mixture of joy, relief and sadness at the prospect of arriving in Santiago de Compostela.

Lessons Learned on the Camino del Norte

  1. Always know exactly where your rain cover and raincoat are at all times.

Tips from a Post-Camino del Norte Perspective:

  1. If you happen to see a cozy bench in front of the last house outside of the tiny town of Boimorto, please give the owner a hug for me. If I walk the Camino again, I will bring her many gifts (including a new umbrella).

Our Pilgrimage Stats After Day 33 on the Camino del Norte

Day 33 on the Camino Sobrado to Arzúa - a map on the camino del norte

Stage Miles: 14

Actual Miles Walked: 16 (26 kilometers)

Bus forward Miles: 0

Total Miles Walked So Far: 312 (664 kilometers)

Up Next: Day 34 on the Camino del Norte Arzúa to Pedrouzo

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