Day 3 – Zarautz to Deba

5/13/17 – 32km/19.9mi from Zarautz to Deba, with at least 1900m/6234ft total ascent and descent.

If there’s one word for what today was, it was “brutal.” Or maybe “oppressive” or “relentless?” No, I’ve got it – “oppressively relentless!” Wait, that’s two words – but I’m going with it. It was harder than any day I’ve ever hiked before, anywhere. Not necessarily longer, not necessarily more climbing, just much harder. We may have passed our previous Camino with flying colors, but this initial stretch on the Camino del Norte is a doozie. The more official Camino route to Deba goes inland and is relatively smooth, but we decided today to take an alternative coastal route that had way more steep climbs and drops than that. This path also had worse waymarking so we got lost a couple times and tacked on an extra hour or two overall. Ouch. But the views of the sea, local farms, and various rock formations were beyond breathtaking.

The last hurdle to climb (literally) was yet another steep climb to the ridge above town, followed by a steep descent down an uncountable number of stairs, and then after a long, nine hour grind, we finally arrived at Deba, nearly broken, and nearly dehydrated. While my “chug n’ fill” tactic at all water fountains is sound, there isn’t much you can do when there aren’t any fountains – then you just have to conserve. After we arrived, An ice-cold dip in the Atlantic helped with the muscles, and some wine and card games helped with the spirit, and got us ready for tomorrow – which promises to be another mega difficult day! This has been tough so far, and we’re doing our best to be up to the task.

Today’s photos included a little bonus. One of our fellow peregrinos is a nurse and helped David bandage up his knee, which was in serious pain. The problem is that the only bandages available were bright yellow. Unlike that alternate route today, finding your way on the Camino is easy – you just follow the yellow arrows. But with these bandages, I just had to follow the yellow knee.