The plan for the day was to do the 5.5km downhill of 500m to the town Elizondo and then stretch further from it for 7km more climbing up the same amount of kms. In total we had to do 13kms. So it sounded like it could be quite challenging especially counting that we would do our shopping in town and go uphill fully loaded. But we hoped for the best and that the uphill won’t be too steep.
That night we didn’t sleep very well because the spot we found the day before was very uneven and was located on the slope. But nevertheless because of how tired we were we managed to get some sleep. The place itself was very scenic with several big beech trees and with the view on green hills and down the valley.
So in the morning we had our breakfast and wrapped everything starting the day at 8.30am. As always the start of the day was very humid and with lots of low clouds.
At first the trail went through the slippery and muddy terrain, sometimes crossing the river streams so we had to watch our step. We met lots of water fountains on the way too, so there was no shortage of it.
Sometimes the path went too narrow and we had to wade through the jungle of fern, so big and tall it was. Looking at the places around we were happy that the day before we didn’t decide to stretch further on the trail as all we saw was the same steep slope with no flat spots for camping whatsoever.
The weather was sunny from the very start which was the first day out of three in the row when it happened. There were some clouds below us that soon were disappearing as the sun was coming up.
After several kilometers the trail came out to the gravel farm road and went more gentle along the fields. We’ve noticed many horse pastures on the sides, some of them were funny looking pony horses running through the fern. Also we weren’t sure if we understood it right but it seemed to us that on some fields was planted fern which we thought was growing wildly anyway so it was a bit strange to see.
Being hiking the 5th day around GR11 in Navarra we felt like our body and muscles were getting really fatigue and sore and the nighttime wasn’t enough to recover fully. It would be nice at that point to stop at some campground for an extra night for that reason but as we did not see any in the town and along the way we had to stretch further with no break.
Closer to the town the gravel road turned more steep but it was only for several hundred meters. Then we had some time to spend in the town after doing our usual grocery shopping. So we made a bit of a tour gazing at the old architecture and beautiful church of Santiago. It turned out to be a decent sized town located on both sides of the river Baztan with many bridges, facilities and shops in it. What we especially liked about it was the river bank where we could see big fish swimming and many ducks with their nestlings. Also while eating ice cream sitting at the river we were able to spot the stork resting on the nearby roof and probably supervising the water for the fish hunting which was very unexpected and rare sight to see. Looking down into the river from the bridge, we spotted some nutrias, probably a female and her baby swimming and getting out to the bank. It was definitely the highlight of that day and the most precious moments.
As we were walking through all the recent towns, we of course noticed the appearance of double names in Basque language. And it was our second time there and it still seemed a mystery to us how different the language was from all others we have ever encountered. We knew that it is considred one of the only Pre-Indo-European language left in Europe and that there are three theories existant of its origin: Native origin that has no proof of finding any kind of relationship between the Basque language and other modern languages in other regions, Basque Iberism and Caucasian which we found the most interesting as we would never suspect it. It assumes that the Basque language and the languages of the Caucasus can have a direct relation, because they share some linguistic similarities absent in the Indo-European languages. We found this topic fascinating and interesting to learn more about.
Leaving the town, we had around half of the trail left for that day. The trail went to the outskirts of the village and soon the uphill started. First it went on the farm road and then turned to the narrow steep path. The inclination was quite significant and so it slowed down our pace significantly. The weather was helping a lot – as it wasn’t hot even though it was sunny but the humidity was quite high and there was no wind there.
Then the trail started following the secondary car road for approximately 2kms. And we think it made this part less challenging. Then we came out to the parking lot with the rest area and benches, we had a bit of break there and continued going. After the path turned to the beech forest again and went all in the shade, the climb was gentle enough.
We were only 1.8 km away from the water fountain at that point and we hoped to be able to find the camp spot soon. We saw that the slope was quite steep in the forest and were already concerned about finding the place. The fountain was nice with the clean drinkable water and so we could fill all the bottles from it.
Then we had to wander away from the trail into the forest and found that there were several different farm routes and lots of paths crossing it that weren’t even on the map. But still we were already very tired and exhausted at this point having done 13kms with 600m down and then up and so we were glad to find more or less flat spot in between the routes. It was already 17pm when we arrived at the place and so we had time only for cooking our meal and preparing our sleeping gear. We went to bed with the sounds of the sheep bells and hoped for the quiet night. The next day promised to be another challenging one..