First, if you’ll humor me a bit, I’d love to share my latest felt “painting”:
In celebration of the wonderful time I had on the Camino Aragones, I needlefelted one of my favorite photographs from that section of my walk across Spain. I’d taken the photo midway through the Aragones, as I enjoyed a last view of the snowcapped Pyrenees rising above arid grain fields. Felting from photographs is my favorite kind of felt painting; I try to capture the details and mood of a photo by using a special needle to poke strands of dyed wool into place on a “canvas” of wool I’ve made from our pet sheep’s last haircut. It always takes a while to get a wool painting just right, but the result has lots of color and texture. I’m quite pleased with this “painting.” (If it strikes your fancy, here’s a shameless plug: Please feel free to check it out on the Etsy shop of our family’s fiber studio: https://www.etsy.com/shop/heartfeltfleecefiber.)
Anyway, the Camino Aragones was the second route I came to in my dabbler of Caminos. Almost from the moment the Camino began descending the Pyrenees at the France-Spain border, it took on a different flavor. The misty, muddy path gave way, on the other side of the rain-shadowed mountains, to a drier, hotter trail. The wildflowers were different, and the forests of the French side disappeared. The first few towns on the Aragones seemed more bustling than the sleepy French mountain villages I’d gotten used to.
But, as the PCT taught me, arid lands have a distinct beauty of their own, and I soon found myself appreciating the brushlands of eastern Spain. Unlike on the PCT, water carries weren’t an issue, as it was easy to ask a kind baker or bartender for water in the towns along the way.
By the time I arrived in Jaca, the Spanish sun had already begun working a number on my skin, and I’d been lucky to be a witness to a spectacular sundog, a rainbow-like phenomenon seen on sunny days. I hadn’t yet glimpsed the “lunar landscapes,” the badlands for which that region of Spain is known, and I was excited to think that they were just around the corner. But first, it was time for a zero day — and a field trip to the cliffside monastery, San Juan de la Peña.