Day 17 – Ponferrada > Villafranca del Bierzo (~25km)

Although we enjoyed relatively flat terrain today, it was one of the most mentally challenging for me. Our morning did not get off to a good start, both Kai and I were our usual stubborn selves and found ourselves in opposition throughout the first two hours. He wanted to go fast and walk with some of the new friends we’ve made and I asked him to stay with Keira, Renee and I. I played my parental authority trump card to no avail and so Renee had to step in. Things quieted down for a while and before the final push into Villafranca, I suggested that I hike quickly to our final destination for the day and suggested that he stay with his mom and sister while I went ahead to secure our beds (there are many pilgrims on the Camino at the moment and unless you book a room/bed, it becomes a bit of a footrace. He insisted on staying with me, despite my objections and explanation that tomorrow’s hike would include the steepest ascent of the Camino (over 600m of climbing in about 3.5-4km) and that he should conserve his energy. We agreed that he would take a nap after the hike and before dinner so that he could recharge and he agreed. Somehow managed to average almost 6.3km/hr over the last 5.5km (after having walked 17km in just over 3.5 hours), with his pack on and over a few challenging hills, them promptly feel asleep after lunch but before get got to shower.He and his sister have been my toughest teachers…

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