Spontaneous Hikes in Northern Spain

Cecelia Winter is a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Bilbao, Spain.

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I titled this “spontaneous” because if I were a more experienced hiker, I would ultimately have more knowledge in the art of preparation beforehand such as packing and map reading, both of which I hope to improve little by little in my future hikes. However, disregarding these two qualities that I don’t currently possess, I decided this past month to lace up my Nikes and go on trudges (a more accurate word I decided) across the majestic and mysterious land of Basque Country.

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The first hike I did was a very small portion of the Camino de Santiago, which is a 780 km. (nearly 500 miles) pilgrimage across Europe to the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. Don’t be fooled, I only hiked around 22 km but the landscape that engulfed us as we trekked from Argoños to Somo was breathtaking (my terrible cardio could also be a contributor to that).

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My friends a couple weekends ago invited me to accompany them on the Pagasarri Hike, a hike that actually starts in the city of Bilbao (how convenient!). This hike is actually very popular and we passed a variety of faces on our way up. Families with children, people walking with their significant other, or even solo hikers, the Pagasarri hike is enjoyed by everyone.

Hiking through the dense forest, we didn’t realize how high we were until we finally took in the view at the top. As the intense wind tousled our hair and the world loomed before and below us, I couldn’t help but feel anything other than alive, spontaneous, and free.



On these two hikes and a few others that I have taken, I can tell you that through my short hiking experience, there are a few items that really come in handy during a hike:

  1. Make sure you wear layers– The start of the hike I was very warm and as I continued, I only got warmer as the exercise/energy amount increased. However, at the top of the hike it was much cooler and I was very happy that my past self had remembered a sweater.
  2. Toilet paper, seriously– First off, bringing this is self-explanatory since you’re hiking in the woods. It is also great to use for any foods that you bring (such as oranges which leave your hands very sticky).
  3. Lighter-You don’t want to litter that toilet paper. You could either torch it or bring plastic bags, it’s really up to you.
  4. A snack– That chocolate bar tastes good before the hike? You can’t imagine how good it will taste on top of the hike.
  5. A mind free from time restraints– You don’t want to rush the hike. Take your time, look at all the trees, accept the little pains that come with a hike, and find the tranquility of nature that meets you.

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Want to learn more about Bilbao? Check out “Initial Impressions of Bilbao”