Key lessons learned and trip summary:
- Abrucena – town 5 km far from La Roza campsite (resupply possibility)
- Refugio at the Piedra Negra (2100 m.a.s.l.)
- Prepare yourself for a possible wild boar encounter
We wake up at „our“ camp. It’s not raining anymore. On the contrary, it looks like a sunny day ahead. We are eating breakfast at the camping table while enjoying the impressive views of the snowy mountain peaks. Observing the peaks from down below – keeping the safe distance is all I need at the moment. I don’t feel like slushing through the snow. Breakfast today is composed of few leftover sugar coated peanuts (being the last food we have left). As we are sitting there, enjoying ourselves, a white car suddenly passes by the camp. Human being!…Unbelievable. And he’s not alone. I can see 3 white goats on the back seats of the car.
The mission for today is clear: run to Abrucena – a town which lies 5 km far from La Roza campsite, buy food, have lunch, run back to the trail and walk at least 10 km. Well…that’s an ambitious plan.
We leave the tent behind (in the camp) to let it dry. We don’t think it’s very likely that someone would steel it, therefore we don’t worry too much about it. We do carry the backpacks with us though. After all, we will need to put all the food we buy into something. Without further delay we are on the way to Abrucena, walking (rather than running¨) the asphalt road. Not the nicest experience but there’s no way around it.
When a view of Abrucena opens in front of us, we can see immediately that this town lacks the coziness of Capileira or Pampaneira (the towns we departed from). There is a cool church and a cool mountain view but that’s all. We agree that it resembles a sunken Latin-American village. The more we elaborate on this, the funnier it gets when we notice the name Escobar sprayed on the hedge next to the road. There are 2 small stores comparable in product range to a Vietnamese store typically found in villages around Czechia. Despite the limited selection, we buy tons of food (around 5 kg per person…oh, the pack is going to be heavy again).
We head to one of local restaurants. Well, it’s more like a fusty tapas bar (at least we will fit in) with a slot-machine and few barflies enjoying their Wednesday morning bier or two. The barmaid is incredible. She’s a Mujer (woman) with capital M. The embodiment of Spanish temperament – loud, vivid, assertive, authoritative. Her sun-tanned skin, short dark hair and brown eyes only fine-tune the overall image. We sit outside, order one of each tapa, vino tinto (red wine) and cerveza (beer) and listen to the passionate discussions going on between the woman and the barflies. All the tapas are very much the same – a piece of something (chorizo, burger, egg, pork chop) on a toasted baguette. You don’t like it? Perhaps a litre of ketchup will help. Not the greatest dish ever but it’s food. And that counts! As we eat, many people come and go. But they all have something in common. They stare at us like they’ve never seen a tourist. Or do we smell that bad already? I don’t know. Anyways, seems like for some reason we are the main point of attraction here.
We don’t want to but it’s time to move on. Before we even get back to trail, we have a 5 km road walk to take. Nothing enjoyable. “If only we could hitch-hike”, I think to myself. As we walk up the hill a white Dacia appears behind us. Given that we met 2 cars and one creaking moped on this road throughout the whole morning, this is a chance we can’t miss. I dare to stick out my thumb but the car just passes by. But…after a while it starts slowing down and stops. Coincidence? When we approach the driver, we find out that he’s one of the tapas bar guests. And surprisingly he’s heading to La Roza. I try to lead the conversation while we ride. I learn that he likes to come to La Roza for BBQ and mountain views. When he drops us off, we thank him and go pack our tent. Awesome! We have saved quite some time and energy.
We are back on trail – fully loaded. The next stage is only 11 km long but there is 800 m ascend. We meet another goat herd together with the herdsman. He’s also a talkative fellow. He asks where we come from, where we are heading and where we plan to sleep. When we say that we want to arrive to Piedra Negra still today and that we will sleep wherever it will be convenient, he glances at us worriedly. “Up there?”, he asks pointing at the mountains. “But it’s cold out there!“. I calm him down claiming that we can look after ourselves. His concern is touching. He tries to convince us to sleep in the refugio at the Piedra Negra. We’ll see. After the first refugio experience I would rather pass. But should the situation be critical…During our chat I notice a car parked nearby. „That’s the car we saw in the morning with 3 goats on the back seat!“, I shout out. „4“, the herdsman corrects me and we laugh together.
We continue. As we get higher and higher, I start to realize that we are heading right into the snow. THE SNOW I wanted to keep a safe distance from. When we climb all the way up, we find ourselves on a glade at the top of the hill. We stop to look around and take some pictures when suddenly something unexpected happens. Just around 50 m far from us a wild sow with 3 piglets run by. My facial expression at that moment must be a combination of fright and astonishment. From now on, I make a noise in every wood we cross to let every wild boar know we are here. We finish the 11 km stage and search for refugio just to see how it looks. It’s getting dark, cold, foggy and rainy/snowy. I would like to set up a camp but there’s no suitable spot and we can’t find the shelter either. Thomas wants to go further. We descend and after another 500 m or so we finally find a good spot at the edge of the forest. I was already getting a bit furious. We set up a tent in the dark and finish the day off with a high-quality balanced dinner. For some reason we’re suffering from a terrible sugar-craving. Both of us. And so we stuff ourselves with chocolate croissants together with another chocolate as a side dish. That’s what 8 days of hiking do to you.