YouTube if you want more photos.
The next two days seemed like something out of Sound of Music, you expect the Trapp family at any moment. A stay at Borce, or actually at Etsaut, just across the river, and then up to Somport pass. Much of the route parallels an old railroad which tunneled through the Pyrenees, but has not been used for many years. On this final day up to Somport, we opted to follow the road, since the guidebook said the views were better from the road than the trail. No big wildlife, but lots of birds, lots of small brown lizards, and a few large brilliant green lizards. Of course cows with bells.
To the wildlife score, add lots of black slugs, maybe a world record in slugs per meter, and one black and orange salamander.
We are fairly well prepared for rain, with a parka pack cover combination that can be worn as a pack cover, and at the hint of rain, just stick your arms thru the sleeves. The big problem with rain is the difficulty of finding a place to take a break. In Spain there seemed to be a bar, cafe or barn when needed. There was an old church, Ermita de la San Juan Bautista that had a steel cover to protect it until restoration happened. That came along just at lunch time - and so forth.
I have learned from prior trips to look up in the churches. Look at the entry ways, at the pillar tops. The carving is sometimes wonderful, and the subject matter is always interesting.
The next day was Jaca where we stayed two days, so we could take a side trip to San Juan de la Pena. This is a must do trip for anyone doing this route. This monastery has been built into a cliff wall and is of massive proportions. You can have a taxi take you up, wait for an hour and take you back to Jaca. An hour is enough time for the first visit.
Just a couple of shots:
After Jaca, at Puente la Reina de Jaca, we ended up in an apartment hotel which had a washing machine in the room. A definitely unexpected bonus.
Following Puente la Reina de Jaca, the GR 653 continues on a road suitable for bicycles, while an alternate route goes through the old pilgrim town of Arres. I strongly recommend that you go through Arres. A view from that trail:
Eunate was the highlight of the next couple of days. I had missed this on our first trip, and had wanted to see it ever since. It did not disappoint, but we did start seeing relatively large numbers of pilgrims.
After we joined the main Camino Frances at Obanos, we continued on the main route till Logrono, where we caught a bus to Bilbao and flew home. The last time we were on this section from Obanos to Logrono was in 2001, and I had difficulty recognizing it. There has been a lot of work, and I think rerouting. The trail for this 40 mile segment is now appropriate for bicycles most of its length. The surface frequently is hard packed gravel, or stones set in mortar, about 8 to 10 feet wide, and fine for bikes, but hard on walker's feet.
For those who are interested, here is our Google Docs detailed spreadsheet - miles per day, etc.