Day 10 – A Fonsagrada to O Càdavo Baleira

16.8mi/27km from A Fonsagrada to O Càdavo Baleira

Yesterday and today mornings couldn’t have been more different. While yesterday brought us hours of death fog and a damp chill to start the day, today we had warm sun and a comfortable dryness. The temperature at 9am was the same on both days, 39°F (3.8°C), but it felt immensely different.

With the sun shining, David and I had a little more pep in our steps as we trudged onward from A Fonsagrada. In retrospect, I wished we had longer to explore the town. The town’s namesake, the “fon sagrada” (sacred fountain), is due to a legend that St. James himself was once here and was helped by a poor widow. In turn he enabled a fountain to flow with milk for her and her children. But with our steep climb at the end of an already-long day yesterday and another long day ahead today, we simply didn’t have time or energy to explore too much.

Today offered a little more comfort, despite the 2801 feet that we climbed overall. Unlike yesterday’s long slog, we actually had some rest stops today. A few forest picnic areas, a few bars (cafés), and just a few decent non road/dirt places to sit down and take a short break.

The first part of this lovely day featured a long but gradual climb up to the village of Montouto, where there exist the very well-preserved remains of an old pilgrim hospital. Before locals launched albergues or b&bs as small businesses to serve the tourists coming to the Camino, pilgrims made their way toward Santiago from all over Europe – usually on foot – relying on the kindness of strangers as well as the support of a network of pilgrim hospitals often run or supported by the Order of the Knights Templar, and other times by local Church authorities. Montouto was one of those hospitals, initiated in the 1300s and continuing services well into the 20th century. It was fascinating and awe-inspiring to think about the tens of thousands of pilgrims who have come through these passages.

The second part of the day featured two big climbs, the first of which was 350 feet and so steep that our faces might’ve hit the ground in front of us as we climbed up. Mercifully, that climb brought us to the village of A Lastra, where there was an open bar where we had a brief descanso. Immediately after that was another 450-foot climb, but it was at least more gradual. After that high point we carried on for several more miles, stopping by a nice bar in the town of Fontaneira, and then traversing what looked like an endless undulating dirt track to close out our day in O Càdavo Baleira.

It’s been 4 long days of massive climbs, and while there is much less climbing tomorrow (“only” 1772 feet…) it will be no picnic: 20 miles to Lugo.