Day 35- Rabanal del Camino to Ponferrada

Walked Today: 5.6 mi / Camino2022: 234 mi

Camino2022 has gone well so far and we want to keep it that way. Our paced approach today is to not take on the remaining 1200 ft climb to Foncebadón and Cruz de Ferro or to brave either the treacherous downhill section going into Acebo or the very rough, rocky surfaces on the trail between Acebo and Molinaseca.

We walked both of these routes in 2015 and 2017, with full backpacks, but skipped the Acebo to Molinaseca section in 2019. So nothing to prove today.

our “ultimate” overnight stay in Rabanal (left), Cason Rabanal Oca.
the main street through Rabanal
walking down to El Tesín this morning to meet Luis

At 9:00 our taxi driver, Luis, met us at Albergue El Tesín in Rabanal. He was the same driver who picked us up in Acebo in 2019, rescuing us from the walk into Molinaseca.

Luis used the road that sorta parallels and crisscrosses the Camino from Rabanal to Molinaseca (a 30 minute ride). The sky was clear, so we were able to enjoy many of the beautiful and breathtaking views that we enjoyed when we walked this section on previous Caminos.

We recognized the place we stayed in Foncebadón in 2015, and stopped briefly to snap a photo of the Cruz de Ferro today, where we left a shell signed by each of our 14 grandchildren in 2017.

Cruz de Ferro, the second highest point on the Camino at 1505 meters (4918 ft). It is reputed to be an ancient monument, first erected by the ancient Celts, then dedicated by the Romans to their god Mercury (protector of travelers) and later crowned by the cross and renamed as a Christian site by the 9th-century hermit Guacelmo.

We continued along the summit of the Itago mountain range for several miles and recognized the expansive views in all directions. On the way down, we drove through Acebo, where we stayed in 2015 and 2017, then continued down the mountain to the bridge entering Molinaseca, where Luis wished us “Buen Camino”, and let us out to begin our 5 mile walk into Ponferrada, our destination for the night.

the medieval Puente del Peregrino into Molinaseca
crossing the beautiful medieval bridge
the XVII century Iglesia de San Nicolás seen from the bridge upon entering Molinaseca
main street in old Molinaseca
exiting Molinaseca
the Camino becomes a sidewalk from Molinaseca to Ponferrada
just outside Ponferrada, walking through an upscale residential area

Shortly after taking the above photo, Rolfe and Ann, pilgrims friends from Sarasota, Florida caught up to us and we walked together for a half-mile or so, then went our separate ways to different places for the night in Ponferrada. Even though we are walking different distances each day and using different strategies for our Caminos, we keep bumping into each other in stores, in bus stations, in albergues, etc. We said our good-byes/ buen Caminos for the umpteenth time today, but somehow, it may not be our last!

Surprise!!! For the past several weeks, we have continued to cross each other’s paths. Is the Camino trying to tell us something?

We ate sparingly today, never seeming to find a place with food when we were hungry. Tomorrow the problem will lessen as smaller towns along the Camino cater more to pilgrims and not vice versa.

Most of the afternoon was spent trying to find places to stay over the next few weeks… and blogging. A longer walk coming up tomorrow, so pleasant dreams to all!

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