You Brought Rocks?!

At 4,934 feet above sea level on a windswept site stands a fifty-foot tall pole with a plain iron cross on top, the Cruz de Ferro. Tradition has it that when you travel to this iron cross, you should lay a rock at its base as a token of love or as a symbol of laying aside your burdens.

Judi and Barb at the Cruz de Ferro, stage 25 of the Camino de Santiago

The weather report last night promised rain, the first time since we’ve been on our Camino that we’ve had to brave wet weather. This morning we hauled our ponchos out of the very bottoms of our backpacks and braced ourselves for a soaking. Rather than wear boots and suffer wet feet for days, we donned wool socks and Tevas or Oboz.

A pregnant pause in our travels – Our Camino friend Pat who comes from Massachusetts

By the time we reached the Cruz de Ferro about seven miles into our sixteen-mile day, wind-driven rain had pelted us. and we’d had a headwind most of the way. Still, we took several minutes to say some silent words of prayer as we laid our stones at the base of the monument.

Stones for Cruz de Ferro

Judi had chosen three rocks:

  • a black chunk of slag (a by-product of the iron-ore process). It reminded her of going to her home in Escanaba, Michigan. She found the rock by the municipal dock in front of the House of Ludington, formerly a famous hotel and landmark.
  • a jagged red piece of rock found at the Iron Mountain Iron Mine in Michigan. It represents to her reconnecting with family and creating new memories.
  • a piece of pink granite found on Hunter’s Beach in Acadia. This one represents Judi’s and my intention to do the Camino together.

My rock was also a piece of pink granite from Hunter’s Beach. In addition to it representing our friendship, I dedicated it to my stepfather, Michael Tessman who passed away on October 2nd at the age of 96, while Judi and I were on our Camino.

One woman near me said, “So many wishes, so many wishes.”

Not long after we left the site of the Cruz de Ferro, the sun appeared and created a splendid rainbow.

A symbol of hope

Our day of hiking ended in our crossing a medieval bridge into the little town of Molinaseca. Tomorrow the countdown begins: only ten more days of walking until we reach Santiago.

Pilgrims enter the town of Molinaseca over a medieval bridge.

10 thoughts on “You Brought Rocks?!”

  1. Very moving. Your trip seems to be reduced to basics and meaning.

    I am surprised that some of the viaducts seem to be over dry river beds. Or are they aquaducts? Either way they are beautiful.

    Take care

  2. What a wonderful tradition! Amazing the memories and thoughts that are piled there with all those stones. A keeping place. How special!

  3. The picture of the 3 of you with the ponchos is so funny!! Makes me giggle every time I look at it. But seriously now, did you feel lighter ( both mentally and physically) after settling your rocks on the pile? How touching and each stone had such meaning. Glad you captured their final resting spot on the pile.
    Keep strong!!

  4. Rock is such a great metaphor for two pilgrims from The Granite State – granite in the soil beneath our feet and metaphorically in the resolve within our hearts!

  5. Beautiful stories to go with your photos. Obviously, you knew about the tradition ahead of time. Loved the symbolism of each. And I, too, loved the photo of the three of you in the rain. You looked like camels, which seemed totally appropriate to the time, place, and circumstances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *