On the day 8 of our Camino de Santiago del Norte we did 27 kms going from Markina-Xemein to the Gernika village.
We got up to the beautiful sunny morning in the little forest above the highway that we found yesterday night. The night was extremely quiet and calm and nothing could disturb our sleep. We were lucky to find this place quite fast and not going very far from the city. As it’s been extremely hard the last couple of days to find a camp spot because of the area being very populated and with lots of traffic.
I did my stretching yoga routine in the morning as it was very needed for my sore muscles. We still felt tired because the tireness accumulated from day to day. But we had to do the 25 km going from Markina Xemein to Gernika city and we had no other option but to start the trail.
We knew that we won’t have a camping there and we’ll have to find a stealth camping spot so we moved as quickly as possible.
After the previous quite hard route in the mountains we were ready for the hard trail. But the Camino started quite smoothly going along the river and then gently starting to go uphill. We walked through several little villages that day and there were some pavement routes but the most of the day we were walking in the forest enjoying the greenery of it, the shadow that it gave us and the fresh air. And we even called this day the green forest day.
The places were very unique with the houses and farms in beetween the mountains coming out of nowhere. The whole region that we were walking through the last days was like that. Sometimes we even wondered how the people can manage to get to their houses as all the the roads were dirt roads and the whole area was very rural. But it was very special and we enjoyed being around it.
We met the cutest pigs ever pasturing in some garden and they were the highlight of the day for sure. Also we put a stamp in the beautiful monastery that we met on the way that also had an albergue in it.
There wasn’t any steep uphills or downhills so the route turned out to be quite easy for us. But because of our general exhaustement at the end of the day we were killed and tired. We promised ourselves yesterday that we wouldn’t do more than 20 km a day but we had to do it because there just wasn’t any camping or shop earlier on the way and for us it is very important cause we prefer to stay in our tent and cook our own food. So for us it was twice as hard.
At the end we had to walk around 3 km more to the spot where it was possible to camp. As we said it is super hard to find these spots in the region. But the spot we found was very nice and quiet located in the dense forest. And we even managed to have an improvised shower cause we couldn’t stand more to hike the third day being all sweaty and sticky. So we made the holes in the water bottle and we had the best moment of the day washing off all this sweat and dirt. Then we had our dinner and went to sleep right away.
On the next day we woke up in our luxurious camping spot in the forest and felt all worn out and broken so weren’t sure about how we will start the Camino today. We tried to plan it yesterday and all we saw was that we are coming close to the big city Bilbao and that there isn’t any camping spot in the area. And we didn’t want the repetition of the same situation over and over again when we had to search hard and walk extra kms to find the stealth camping spot after we already did more that 20.
And we had to make this decision. It was very hard for us but we did it for the sake of our health and the rest of the Camino. So we decided to take the bus from Gernika where we were at that moment to Bilbao and then from Bilbao to Castro Urdiales where the next camping spot was and where we could start the Camino again. So we were about to sacrifice about 3 days of the Camino. We felt quite bad about it because it was absolutely possible to do if we weren’t searching so hard for the camping spot every day and pushing to our physical limits. Because there are a lot of albergues and not a single camping on this part of the way for the people like us who enjoy doing it this way. If it was like that we could continue going and didn’t have this situation of extreme tireness. So we felt like it was quite unfair. What do you think of it? Are there any camping fans as us experiencing the same problems? We need to know that we are not alone.
So we catched the bus (the transport connection is very nice here) and were in Bilbao in 30 min probably. We saw the big mountains in the background and thought that maybe we skipped the most difficult part of the Camino. But we tried not to think about it as it wasn’t our intention anyway. Bilbao seemed to us very huge city that spreaded all around the coast. We saw lots of factories and port facilities while we were passing through it on the bus. And wondered how the Camino goes in these places and thought that probably we won’t miss much just taking a bus and skipping the city part. At least it was the best decision for us-nature lovers. So we hoped on another bus going to Castro Urdiales and in 20 minutes we were at the place. We rushed to the only supermarket that was open on Sunday and fortunately we were on time and bought everything we needed and went to the camping. To our surprise the camping was very close to the Camino trail so the next day we didn’t have to go very far to start going. The rest of the day was filled with very trivial things like doing washing up, drying our clothes, charging our gear etc. And most importantly we had time to rest and recover a bit from the last crazy days that we had before.
Here is the link to Google map to follow the hike: