Lessons learned and trip summary:
- Refugio at the end of the stage (Postero Alto)
- You will not meet a lot of people here
- You will meet many cows here
- Useful phrase: ¿Podemos comprar algo aquí?“ (Can we buy something here?).
I made it through another hell itchy night. With one opened eye I blink at the watch. It’s 7:50. I look out of the tent. It’s still dark outside. The sun rises even later here in the north. Furthermore, the November is approaching. Today is October 26th – our 11th day on trail. I can’t sleep anymore and so I crawl out to watch the dawn wrapped in my sleeping bag – my favourite morning routine. The sun rises on the other side, so I’m observing the first sunrays falling on the snowy peak of Pico de Mulhacén. Soon the sky turns orange and the warm wave of sunlight spreads towards us through the valley. We are shaded from the sun by a high hill and so it takes a long time before the sunrays finally reach us and unfreeze us.
I count the food supplies over and realize the horrifying truth – we are running out of sweets! Damn! Our morning is lazy as usual. We depart shortly after 10 and begin the hike by pit-a-patting over soaked green-swards weaving in and out between cow pats. That’s what I call a warm-up. My ankles are not happy though. We pass through a numerous herd of cows. Northern cows are apparently much more chilled out than their southern peers. The southern ones would be jumping down the slope to move out of the way the moment we would get closer to them. The northern ones? They are just observing us calmly, chewing impassively not making a single unnecessary move as we pass few meters far from them. We too are already braver and we’re passing through the herd „unarmed“(without a pepper spray in our hands).
It’s another beautiful day today. The sun shines and it’s quite hot. We make lunch at a spot with fantastic mountain view. Afterwards we rest a bit. During the afternoon we meet two hikers going in the opposite direction. Unbelievable! Two guys…probably brothers and probably from Germany. They scare us a bit claiming that we should prepare for a lot of snow ahead of us. I have to admit that the idea of struggling through the snow seems a bit ridiculous to me right now as I’m standing here all sweaty in 30°C. But you never know. After all we are in the mountains surrounded by snowy peaks. It just did not occur to me that we will be heading up towards those peaks and the snow. The guys show us the way on the map and point onto the next refugio recommending us to stay there. As I do not want to come too close to them for their own sake (after all it has been 10 days without a shower), I have no idea what they are showing. Never mind, we will find our way. We say good bye and continue. I still can’t believe that they were the very first people hiking the GR240 like us, that we have met here so far in 11 days.…That’s a kind of wilderness I like!
As we get closer to the end of the next stage, we meet more people. Heavy traffic on the trail today! It’s one big group of jacked vital mountaineers of advanced age. Seems that they are heading to the top of Pico de Mulhacén. Our trail leads around the mountain, so we are not climbing up. Pity that we don’t have more time, I bet it would be an interesting climb. We notice a building with a parking lot situated few hundreds of meters below. Mmm…that will be closed for sure. After the experience with La Ragua information centre, we got low hopes. The building is about 300 m off the trail and so we hesitate for a while whether to even go there or not. We only got 15 km so far and we would still want to walk more today. But let’s have a quick look. If nothing else, there is a bench on which we can chill for a moment.
As we are approaching, we begin to fantasize again about beer and orange juice. “Oh, come on, Sulayr, just one small trail magic…That’s all I’m asking for. Pleeeease…”, I speak to the trail in my mind. The building is an interesting architectonic piece – star-shaped stoney construction likely used as a dormitory. There’s a wooden door in each corner leading to a room. We look around. Just out of curiosity I try to open every door I see. First door – locked. Second door – locked. Third door – locked. Of course, they will be locked, what the hell do you expect? Fourth door – click. What?!
The door opens. I enter and see a stoney bar with a middle-aged man behind it. I swear that in the very first moment I thought that it’s a Fata morgana or something like that. When I recover from the initial shock, I stammer out something like: „Buenos días. ¿Podemos comprar algo aquí?“ (Can we buy something here?). „Sí, seguro“ (Yes, sure), the man answers. „Un momento“ (One moment). I run out to get the money. On the way I explain to Thomas enthusiastically what I’ve just found. We burst inside together. Thomas orders three 330 ml cans of beer right away and I settle for Fanta as they don’t have an orange juice. Everything comes at the same price – € 2. A moment later we are sitting sprawled on a bench, enjoying the cold drinks, crunching a bag of corn chips, observing the majestic mountain above our heads during this warm sunny day. The best trail magic ever! Wishes do come true 😊.
Naturally, we don’t feel like moving but we should still hike some more kilometres. The beer took its toll and Thomas is tricksy. He’s walking behind me (exceptionally) babbling and singing all the time. I have to laugh. The last 5 km goes pretty fast like that. We are ascending and an hour later we’re already looking at the building from the distance of the opposite hill. We pass by few fairy-tale like camping spots, but we still go a bit further. Later on, when we actually start searching actively for a spot for tonight, we can’t find any and so we end up camping next to the path again. After a long time, we will cowboy camp today. The tent is cool, but I miss stargazing.
I feel a bit food sick while falling asleep. That must be the greasy chips. I try not to focus on the aching stomach as I’m falling slowly into the dreamworld. Suddenly a terrible human-animal-like shriek drags me back to the consciousness. I twitch myself with shock and I’m pretty much awake again. „What the hell was that?“, I whisper into the dark. It resounds again. Second time, the sound seems funny rather than frightening to me and so I start to laugh. “Probably some kind of animal”, we conclude. Well…I would really like to know what kind of animal is capable of making such strange noises. My heart keeps beating fast and I keep straining my ears waiting to grasp another weird sound….