Day 32 – Lourenza to Gontán

6/11/17 – 23.8km/14.8mi from Lourenza to Gontán, with a total of 1300m/4265ft of ascent and descent.

Today featured 2 stages. The first was a 2-hour stage from Lourenza to the very pretty town of Mondoñedo that featured a decent climb. After a coffee break, and checking out the gorgeous Mondoñedo town center and Cathedral, we had a fun with a little creative photography! We got our entire team to line up, get in height order, with the right step, and took an “Abbey Road” style picture, which is bound to be a lasting memory from our trip.

The second stage was an absolutely monster climb of nearly 2,500 feet and then a rolling but long path to Gontán. Feels like we’ve been training all month for this climb and it was a long, steep doozy! But, I was invigorated and energized by it. At the top, we were astonished that we were high above some landmarks that we could just barely make out from the valley floor below us as we started the climb. We were also astonished at just how drenched in sweat we all were! Some of us wrung out our shirts, and puddles of water flowed out. Gross!

Our destination today was a village named Gontán, and for the first time ever, we stayed at a “Xunta de Galicia” albergue there. Spain’s regions – like Galicia and Andalucia – are governed by “Xuntas,” and there is at least one Xunta-run, or municipal, albergue in each major town in Galicia. And it was great! On our first Camino, a fellow pilgrim told us that he stayed in a Xunta with communal open showers, which sounded a bit uncomfortable. So on that trip we kiiiiiind of steered away from them. That might have just been an isolated case, as this place was great with very clean and nice facilities.  After a bit of down-time, we ate some delicious home-cooked food at a tiny bar in Gontàn (whose name I regret forgetting), where the lady running the place was a pure legend – she cooked everything, took the orders, cleaned everything, served everything. And all of this on a Sunday, when every other place in town and for a few miles was closed. I guess if you want to hustle, you gotta hustle. We liked the food so much, we went back later for dinner!

After a few days of wine and merriment, some of us just wanted to take it easy and turn in early for the night. But not before we decided that we had been neglecting our upper bodies, and did a few sets on the “outdoor gym” outside of the albergue in the hopes of getting some “sick gains.” As if today’s elevation gains weren’t enough!