That's what I call it. It's actually rock that has been crushed into small gravel and sand. A layer of this is then spread on the trail, to a thickness of about 12 inches. This is then graded to provide drainage, and finally it is rolled with an compressor. It doesn't seem to have any cement in it, but the final product is very concrete-like. This is what the Camino has become in Galicia.
I believe it is one of the results of too many pilgrims. With too many feet, the natural paths of Spain become mud bogs. We saw this in several spots as we approached Santiago in April, from the south. Not only does the mud become a problem for pilgrims, but also a mess for the coffee shops and refuges.
In response to complaints from all parties involved, the changes have been made. It is no longer necessary to look for yellow arrows. Just follow the gray path. When you come to a fork in the trail, the one with the "fake dirt" will always be the correct choice. I understand the changes. And if the weather was like November of 2014 (I remember the forecast using the word "torrential" that week) I'm sure I would appreciate the graded and compacted trails, with places for all the water to go.
Today it seemed artificial, like there was a barrier between me and the earth.
It was still a beautiful walk, with corn harvest in full swing. I met Matt and Tom from the UK. They told me of a drinking game they played with their mates right after the Cowboy Bar (in El Gonzo). One of the young ladies bought a bottle of wine for the trail. Every time they saw a yellow arrow, everyone had to take a swig. The bottle did not last the 7 km remaining in the day!
I'm on Santa Marina tonight, two days of about 22 km each from Muxia. My body is feeling amazingly well after almost 500 km.
It's little dry here.