Key lessons learned and trip summary:
- If you hike this trail in October, pack warm clothes
- Prepare yourself for a lot of ascending on this stage
- Useful phrase: “Disculpe pero no comprendo (bien)” (Sorry but I don’t understand (well))
„Oh my…!“, I blurt. „What’s up?“, Thomas asks drowsily. „It’s cold…a bit“ After I poke out of the tent, I find out that it is totally frosted. Furthermore, the peak of the mountain across the valley turned white overnight – cool! Considering the heat we have been experiencing so far, I’m a bit shocked. That explains why I felt so cold when falling asleep last night. The temperature must have dropped below zero, I’m thinking out loud.
Despite the recommendations of the manufacturer, I’m preparing a coffee right in the vestibule of our tiny little tent. I don’t feel like crawling out. Not yet. The packing is very uncomfortable. I’m dressed in everything I have but I’m still cold. All in all, I’m really glad that I took hoodie, feather jacket, hat and gloves with me even though I thought that I will never use them. We depart at 9.45. After half an hour we are warmed up enough so that we can take off few layers. I repair my sunglasses with gaffa tape (only so that I can have it trampled down by the sheep herd as it turned out few moments later).
That was quite a funny encounter. We’re walking a narrow path and suddenly we hear the bells. This time in a close proximity. Not long after first sheep and goats appear in the curve in front of us. There’s a steep below us and we don’t want those animals to panic and jump down and so we try to get out of their way to the slope above the path. Unsuccessfully. The goats are heading right in our direction – exactly to where we moved away. A minute later herdsman arrives. He’s a suntanned wrinkled talkative fellow dressed in shredded jersey and rubber boots. In spite of the fact that I keep repeating to him: „Disculpe pero no comprendo bien“ (sorry but I do not understand well) he talks and talks. He made up his mind – he will have a good chat today with (or without us) and obviously nothing can stop him. „Smile and nod, smile and nod“, I’m thinking. The only thing I manage to figure out is that he’s searching for his dog. We haven’t seen it. When he’s done talking, he smiles at us showing his yellow teeth, blinks with his yellow eye, says „Grááácia, ádio“ and off he goes. He starts making horrible horror shrieks. Not sure if he’s communicating with the herd or calling the dog. Bizarre. Anyways, if I heard something like that in the middle of the night, I would pee myself out of fear and terror.
After another 200 m I realize that I’m missing the sunglasses. I took them off when we met the sheep and left them on a rock next to the path. I go back and find them smashed into pieces. My awesome Ron Bay sunglasses for € 2 from Vietnam! I’ll miss them. When squatting to filter the water from the stream, I come to the conclusion that I don’t smell good anymore. Some hygiene will be needed.
We’re ascending. This is the longest and the cruellest climb so far – 400 m ascent in less than 2 km. We get to the top by 2 pm. When we cool down a little, the hunger comes. We can’t find any interesting place and so we just sit down by the road and eat. The sun is shining and we’re chilling. It’s fantastic! No one passes by the whole time.
After 3 pm it’s time to continue. We have finished another official stage of the trail.Our hike doesn’t end here though. We soon lose the elevation gain again. We pass by a very strange mansion owned by (likely a passionate) patriot. There are 3 big flapping Spanish flags and the house is guarded by at least 6 raging dogs of unknown breed. They look like crossbreed of Irish Wolfhound, Dobermann and German Shepherd but with white hair. They are huge, loudmouthed and respectful. We better keep going.
Another short blackberry break and up we go again. Today’s stage is all about ascending.
By 6 pm we come across a perfect camping spot under a grown tree. Few meters away a majestic chestnut-tree is raising from the ground. He’s called Abuelo de Sierra Nevada (The Grandfather of Sierra Nevada). Reportedly he survived wars, disasters, storms, winds, diseases and much worse. It’s indeed apparent that he has witnessed a lot, so I hope he can make it through one more night and not fall on us.