Day 3 – Cornellana to La Espina

13.3mi/21.24km from Cornellana to La Espina

We were somewhat dreading today. Our handy dandy guide app, “Buen Camino” (highly recommended for anyone on these treks), told us we would be climbing a total of 3,000 feet today. That’s … a lot. But it was good! It was invigorating! After a truly excellent breakfast tortilla de patatas (we’re becoming connoisseurs at this point) at Mesón Dany, a super friendly place in Cornellana, we hit the road.

After a steep 425-foot climb right out of the gate, a few miles and rolling hills brought David and me to the very lovely medieval town of Salas where we broke for lunch and a grocery resupply. Beyond here, we faced a 1,300 foot climb over 6 miles to get to La Espina, our destination. Overall it was manageable and only steep in a few sections. There was one stretch of steep switchbacks where I needed some music to keep my feet moving, but otherwise we did alright. The demands of the climb helped me feel invigorated and alive, drenched with sweat but with a sense of purpose. As we climbed higher and higher, we were treated to stunning views and crisper, much less humid air than in the lower valleys.

At the top of our climb, we met a hospitalero who runs an albergue in Bodenaya, who walked and chatted with us a bit. Thinking that it would be useful to cover the extra .75 miles to La Espina today, we said goodbye to him after we reached his place and went onward. In hindsight, we should’ve stayed with at his place. We stayed an albergue in La Espina that was OK but a bit drab, in need of a sweeping and mopping, and absolutely lacking the warmth and hospitality of our first two nights on the trail. One plus – we were able to dry our “shower-washed” clothes on the radiators.

While the most popular Caminos – Francès, Norte, Portugues – offer long flat stretches where you can almost walk mindlessly and enjoy a chat with someone, listen to a podcast, or just enjoy the scenery, the Primitivo seems to demand your attention frequently. Whether it’s the slippery ground, perpetually wet from the pervasive humidity; or the undulating terrain; there are no long stretches here where you can just let your mind go and walk. It would be nice to be able to do that. At least while David rested up, I was able to take more time to just center myself and think. Onward tomorrow.