Oh my. This was definitely one of those days every pilgrim needs to have at least one of. I got lost several times. I got wet. I was exhausted. I had some magical moments.
So here goes.
First, the day dawned sunny and beautiful. I finally got great views/photos of Puebla de Sanbria's famous castle. Then, I promptly got lost on the first leg. Sort of.
When I did this leg last time in the fall, I was with about 5 others. We got about halfway through the trail, which was a mix of forest and field, when a handmade arrow pointed us onto the nearby highway. A Germany guidebook said the rest of the way was very difficult to discern and follow, hence the homemade arrow. So we all walked over to the highway.
This time the area was quite flooded. I didn't even recognize it as the same trail. I was following arrows and walking where I could without getting wet, when suddenly the arrows stopped and I couldn't see the highway. I knew I wasn't lost, and that the highway was to my right somewhere (there was a river on my left the whole time, so I knew I couldn't have gotten off track). So I picked my way around and eventually found the highway. But my feet got soaked in the process.
Of course I didn't pack dry socks, and still had some 21 miles to walk, but amazingly I never got blisters. (Kudos to Smart Wool socks!) I met another peregrina on that roadside who had had the same experience getting lost and getting wet feet.
The next segment from Terroso on had been one of my favorites: beautiful, well-marked, etc. This time the markings were confusing, and it didn't look nearly as pretty. There were more flooded sections, and once I had to run back a short ways to find my sunglasses, which had fallen off when I'd jumped over some wet spots.
From Requejo on had been a beautiful, uphill climb for 7 miles. Now, due to the Ave construction, we were routed on the highway first (uphill about 4 miles), then onto a strange path with numerous oddball shortcuts onto barely-there paths marked with lots of homemade arrows and such. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I made it.
The next leg also had a detour due to construction, and then I took the path into Lubian. No one there knew about the ancient wolf traps that are in town, according to a guidebook I'd read.
Almost finished for the day. Phew! Yet a 5.5-mile uphill climb to windmills was next. This leg starts out by a church. I got there as a priest was putzing around inside, so I got to take photos. Then, as I was filling up my backpack at an outside fountain, he left and locked it, but not before turning on this beautiful Christian music that was played over the loudspeakers into the hills. It brought a tear to my eye, and fortified me to tackle the mountain.
This path was very flooded, and at times it was hard to figure out where the Camino was. Even when there was no water, sections were deeply eroded. My dry feet got wet, and because it was so late, they got cold. But I made it, then on to Vilvella, my destination.
I had to ask locals to direct me to the town's hotel. They kept trying to tell me I wanted the albergue in another city, but I said no, I had reservations at the hotel. It's modern and quite lovely, with a spa too, no less. When i got there, another pilgrim was walking around in his spa robe and slippers! What a day.