Lessons learned and trip summary:
- Info point El Dornajo on this stage (closed on Mondays)
- 2 hotels with restaurants near El Dornajo
- Your only refreshment possibility directly on the trail (except for Capilera)
The night in the shelter sucked. I couldn’t fall asleep. Not at all. I’m not sure whether it was due to the late afternoon coffee on the previous day or my fear of spiders or all the overwhelming adventure we are experiencing or the exertion and exhaustion or the combination of all the above….yep, probably the combination of all. When I finally began to snooze, someone came to visit us at shelter (wild boars? wild goats?). It started flipping over the rocks and crunching something… probably chestnuts. The sounds scared me and I was fully awake again.
I slept for 3 hours at most. I’m curious how I’m gonna handle today’s stage. I have a strong motivation though – CIVILIZATION! We will pass through the third and the last information point on the trail – Centro de visitantes El Dornajo. The centrum itself is closed on Mondays but there should be 2 hotels with restaurants in the vicinity. Yipeee! Our hike begins shortly after 9. I can feel my left ankle but it’s bearable. Yesterday’s descend continues and the first 5 km are down the hill.
Near La Hortichuela – the end of the next stage – we meet unusually many people (i.e. seven) walking in the opposite direction. Mostly day hikers but there are also rock climbers with ropes who are apparently taking it to the next level. Everybody is so fresh and smells good and I’m only wandering what they must be thinking about us when they come closer. After all we did not shower for almost two weeks by now and it definitely took its toll on us. We still have 7 km with 450 m elevation ahead before we reach El Dornajo. That seems way too much. We have no more sweets for energy re-fill but luckily the trial provides its own doping – blackberries. The best blackberries in the whole wide world! We glut with the handfuls of them but still can’t get enough. The bushes are richly fruited and seems like nobody picks them here. I don’t understand how come.
We set a fast pace for the last 5 km stretch. It’s mostly a road walk and the sun beats down on us. But the idea of proper lunch is a strong driver. Nevertheless, we run out of energy and are forced to slow down earlier than we would like to. The last 600 metres seem like the longest 600 metres of my life. We plod slowly up the steep hill through a small forest. I feel like I’m about to die…
Few moments later, we are finally sitting on the terrace of the Sulayr hotel, drinking Coke (me) and beer (Thomas). Normally, I tend to stay away from Coke but at this point, it is the best beverage of all….Well, the best of all non-alcoholic beverages. Now the insane surfeit is about to begin…
Our hiker hunger makes us order crazy amount of food (despite the relatively high prices). Fried meat-filled croquettes with fries, goat cheese salad, burgers with another portion of fries and we also get a freebie tapa. Dear God. We can barely breathe while the two halves of our burgers are still lying on our plates. Never mind, we will take them with us, I’m sure they’ll serve their purpose later on. We rest for a while longer, drink coffee and charge our power banks. We are super-full and super-happy. Our hungry raid costed us 75 EUR in total.
To get these full bellies moving again is challenging but we are back on track soon. The path is pleasant, birch tree-lined and only slightly up the hill. We can feel the food kicking in and our energy level rising again. I’m surprised how big of a difference eating makes. We hike and hike and hike. Thomas talks and talks, while I’m just nodding and breathing deeply. My stomach feels heavy. I have to stop once in a while and take a break. At least I have some time to enjoy these views…
Suddenly we beat 26th km…just like that. We could still go further but the sun will go down soon plus we have no need to rush and so we stop to build a tent at a nice flat spot in the bushes with a view of the famous ski resort of Sierra Nevada – Pradollano. Five minutes later, the sky turns pink and purple. It’s so peaceful here. Quiet and calm. I got a feeling that tonight is going to be a restful one.