Lessons learned and trip summary:
- Second tourist info point on the trail – La Ragua – closed
- Highest peak of Sierra Nevada – Pico de Mulhacén (3,483 m.a.s.l.)
- Refugio Las Chorerras at the end of the stage – better than refugio at La Polarda
So it seems that I didn’t manage to get rid of IT. Whatever IT is….IT has been biting me again during the night. Nevertheless, I was so tired that I slept anyway. At least a bit. The pinches spread quickly. I have some on my neck and back as well now. Thomas is better off. He also got some but in general he’s obviously less tasty for IT than me. I’m slowly going mad. But what can I do…I have to bite the bullet and go forward. Perhaps walking will distract me from focusing on how terribly itchy my whole body is.
The hike today is much more enjoyable and smooth than yesterday. Even low quality sleep helped. We are also motivated – we will pass by the information point LA RAGUA today. With a bit of luck, we might be able to buy some goodies there. As we get closer, we meet few day hikers….that looks promising. There has to be something (small shop or bistro or whatever). True, the season is off but it’s Friday and people are obviously coming here. We see a parking lot with a big building. Actually, there are 2 buildings – one of them being the information centre itself (closed), the second one looks like a hotel or a restaurant. Nevertheless, it looks pretty closed as well. I’m going closer to investigate it. On building’s wall, I see an arrow pointing to the toilets and so I head there first. All I find is an iron gate with a big padlock. Well, no toilet for me. Walking around the building, I notice an opened door to a small room with a group of people inside. That must be it! A shop/bistro. I can already see myself with a glass of cold juice in my hand, I almost feel the orange taste on my tongue and the cool vitamin-sugar-loaded liquid flowing down my throat. I hurry inside enthusiastically. What I find in there is….
….Cross-country skis rental. ”Wait!….What?” „Cross-country skis rental, it’s cross-country skis rental“, I repeat to myself as my brain is obviously unable to process this information. “Who on Earth would need to rent a cross-country skis now? Here? What the hell? Well….yes, we have seen some snow if you count the 2 cm. Totally confused, I bring the sad news to Thomas.
He too, finds the idea of cross-country skis rental absurd and wants to see it with his own eyes and make sure that they really don’t sell a beer there. Nope, they really don’t. For lunch, we will have to settle for what we have then. Our supplies run low quickly, given how hungry we constantly are these days. In the end, the resupply shopping was not that exaggerated as we initially thought. We cook some couscous and rest for a while after the lunch. If nothing else, we can at least enjoy the luxury of picnic tables which surround the information centre. The sun is shining and the weather today is absolutely gorgeous!
After a short break, we are back on track. We pass by the horse herd and encounter another wild goat family later on. Despite this being the tenth or so goat encounter, I still get excited every time I see them. Actually, I get excited any time I see a wild animal in the nature. After 1 km a majestic Pico de Mulhacén appears in front of us. With its 3,483 m.a.s.l. it is the highest peak of Sierra Nevada mountain range. How lucky we are that we can again enjoy the breath-taking contrast of snow-covered peaks during a warm sunny day. I can’t get enough of that sight. It reminds me why we came here in the first place and why I want to enjoy more and more of such views in the near future.
As we cross an icy stream running down the slope, I suddenly feel an urge to do hygiene again. Few moments later, I’m „washing“ my hair in the stream. Just like when mopping the floor, I will delude myself to think that wet = clean. I’m definitely freshened. Not long after my short bath, we reach another refugio – Las Chorreras. It looks a bit better than the one on the La Polarda peak, nevertheless, we are not going to spend the night in here. The sky is crystal blue and so there is no reason to make use of the emergency shelter.
We walk few more kilometres of the new stage. On the way we meet an old and likely deaf goat. It strides right next to the trail and has no idea about our presence whatsoever. Before it notices us, we manage to get as close as 5 meters away from it. We build the tent on a small terrace just below the trail. From there we have a nice view of Pico de Mulhacén. Before going to bed, I repeat yesterday’s anabasis with deratization of all my things. I take it even more thoroughly today – I search every seam not once but twice and remove every tiny little dirt. When after two hours of work, I don’t find anything suspicious, I feel already a bit crazy. But sometimes I notice small black flies spawning on some of my things. They have wings and are able to escape rather quickly when one tries to squeeze them. I don’t like them. But who knows…maybe I’m already paranoid and I see an enemy in every insect. But when Thomas comes across an article on the internet from July 2019 talking about the outbreak of so called mosca chupasangre (blood-sucking black flies) in Spain, the dots start to connect. Well, well, well…that seems like an explanation. But I’m still not totally convinced that the black flies are to blame. I think I would have seen such a relatively big fly in my sleeping bag. But during my night hunts when searching my sleeping bag with my headlamp on, I didn’t see anything. I just felt the bites and everlasting itching.