Day 6: Gerkina-Lumo to Bilbao

As I lay here in the clouds at the peak of Iturritxualde (382m) I’m thinking this may be my first and last night camping. Not because I’m concerned I’ll freeze to death as the clouds begin to engulf me, but rather the level of anxiety about being caught illegally camping just doesn’t seem worth it. Despite the fact I climbed well off the trail and am hidden when lying down, a man who saw me from below started heading up and then went down again, and another man walking the track looked up as I was brushing my teeth. There’s no way I’d get away with putting a tent up so I’m lying here in my sleeping bag with all my clothes on hoping I’ll get some enjoyment out of this experience.



I had an excellent start to the day, setting off early, finding the perfect little cafe for my morning coffee, and moving less stiffly than the last few days especially on the uphills.


The first half of the day flew by and I started to feel the body adjust to walking with a pack again. I stopped in two very sweet towns, Goikolexalde, where I had my second caffe con leche and an ice cream sandwich, and Larrabetzu, where I stopped for pinchos in one of the local bars. I could tell people were talking about me, but I’ve finally become comfortable rocking into towns smelling like sweat and looking like a pilgrim.




As the day progressed there was more and more road walking, and as suggested by the trail notes, once outside of the cute rural towns the more industrial areas leading into Bilbao started to emerge.


As the towns got bigger, so did the roads, and the 7+ kilometres on asphalt from Larrabetzu to Zamudio got me thinking about the huge stretch of road walking tomorrow out of Bilbao. It’s honestly more painful than any hiking I experienced on the PCT (apart from the road walk into Seiad Valley).



I listened to music for the first time the whole trail for the 3km road walk and then beyond up the mountain I’m now sleeping on. Since I started writing this the rain has completely set in and I was just quick enough to get my tent up without anything getting too wet. It’s gotten heavier and heavier, but my only real concern is drying everything out in the morning and the mud on the trail tomorrow. For now I’m snuggled up and toasty warm in my sleeping bag ready to have an early night.




Buenas noches!

10 thoughts on “Day 6: Gerkina-Lumo to Bilbao”

  1. I really enjoyed this post and all the videos with such a wide range of dramatic emotions you are going through. Your desire to camp on the Camino is commendable. Just remember that there is likely no mountain lions to freak you out there, and nevertheless I have your SPOT in any case. Ha! Best wishes and enjoy your adventure!

  2. Ay caramba, this road walking really is taking its toll on body and nerves … I hope you get a good night’s sleep and can enjoy a bit of Bilbao – it has so many beautiful things to offer as far as I know…
    By the way, have you considered going to Finisterre (“end of the world”) after Santiago de Compostela? It’s only 3 more days and it’s a very nice route, with not a lot of road walking, as far as I can remember.
    Buenas noches!

  3. Hang in there, sweetness….you are a winner….May your body REST from all the thudding on the pavement of the roads….Buenas Noches….from Barbie here

  4. I have read most of this journal of a couple who hiked the del Norte route. Thought I found it because they signed your journal but now for the life of me I can’t find that entry. Anyway, they seem to split quite often to hike and record alternative trails that don’t include roads. They wrote a book on the Frances, and plan to do one on the Norte but according to their website it isn’t published yet. My point is, you might check it out or maybe even contact them to see if they have some suggestions for alternative routes…..and their journal is a good read.

  5. Your so funny, From your stealth camping to the road pain. Not that it’s funny at the time. 🙂 Keep Hiking! Love ya a bunch and have a GREAT Time!

  6. Your videos crack me up.. 🙂 Road walking totally sucks. Probably too late but if you bought larger shoes, you can put more cushioning inserts in to help while on the roads. If your shoes fit well, I wouldn’t add any inserts as it will squeeze your feet, causing even more pain. Best you can do is rest often, elevate and if there are any cool streams or pools of water, soak your feet as often a possible to reduce swelling. Good luck Muk Muk.. keep the videos coming, your expressions are priceless.

  7. Rosie–that camping thing–I know what you’re talking about. It’s totally uncomfortable in populated areas. After graduating college, I did a bike trip with a bunch of friends from the San Francisco Bay Area to Yosemite, much of which was across the farmlands of the Central Valley. We laid our sleeping bags out anywhere we could. One night, we found a spot in a middle school between buildings, and in the middle of the night, the sprinklers came on! That was one of the better nights.

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