First, about last night. I offered to share my pasta and meatballs dinner with Peter and Albert, and they were eager to NOT need to go for an evening walk to find a cafe, so they joined me. Peter provided cookies and chocolate for dessert, and he did the dishes too, so that was great. Dinner for 3 hungry men, leftovers for me to take on the trail, all for about $2.50. They live in France, but are from Holland, so they speak english quite good.
There were eight in the albergue last night. The six smart ones took a taxi for at least half way today. Me and a French guy, whose name I have not learned yet, walked the whole way. About 10 miles of asphalt, although the highway was not busy, so that was nice. The second half of the nearly 20 miles was through a beautiful wooded area on nice dirt roads. They call it a "natural park", but there is very little nature involved. The pine trees are in rows, on terraced hillsides, with all branches below 10 feet pruned. The cork-oak trees are surrounded by grassy lawns mowed by grazing cattle. It was a nice area, just not natural.
I walked fast today in an effort to beat the rain. It didn't work. The last three hours varied between a good shower and heavy downpour. I got one little blister, so I think tomorrow will need to be a short day. The two choices are 15 km and 34 km.
Meditation: All shall be well
Weather: Low 42 (during a cold afternnoon rain) High 52 (before the rain)
Route hints: You need to be confident in your body to walk this whole stage. I don't want to over dramatize it, but it is quite difficult. Last September a man died, on a hot day, only about 2 miles from the end of this day's walk. We also know a strong hiker who broke his ankle on this stage and required rescue. It is well marked, but once again, you need to be alert for the way markings. Missing a turn would not be wise. There are no resources for food or water along the way.
Albergue and town: The municiple albergue in Almaden is a long way through town, just saying you "aren't there yet" when you enter the village. Some of us are planning to find dinner, so maybe I'll have a comment later about that.