Lessons learned and trip summary:
- Majority of this stage is flat
- Tello – last refugio on the trail (capacity of min. 12 people)
- Possibility to camp at Puente Palo (abandoned campsite, in worse condition than La Roza)
Luckily, nobody casted us out of our camping spot which we named and so the night was calm. The morning view of the pink horizon is a balm for the soul. One noticeably piked hill has been attracting our attention since yesterday (according to the map, it is most likely Cerro del Trevenque – 2,083 m.a.s.l.)
When we finally have enough of gazing at the horizon, we eat some leftovers for breakfast, pack up and take off. Our day begins with 300 m ascend – the last hill from yesterday’s stage. When we climb it, we arrive at a lookout called Rinconada de Nigüelas. From there we can see fields of wind turbines and mountain chains raising above them. The visibility is great today, the sky is clear blue. All in all we’ve been quite lucky with the weather. No more downpours, fog or snow-storms over the last few days. Just the azure skies and warm sun rays. Only my eyes would probably have been happier, if I hadn’t broken my first sunglasses at the start of the journey and hadn’t left the second ones be trampled down by the sheep herd.
The 17th stage looks promising – only 30 m ascend during 15 km stretch. That’s how I like it! We beat one km after another and advance quickly. Despite the ease of the terrain, we stop for lunch around midday as usual as we can already hear our stomachs growling. The hunger is permanent. Food is strictly allocated, most of the supplies we have left is a chicken soup from one of the local stores in Abrucena and we also have one package of instant Amore Mio pasta, which is now considered a luxurious dish and we set it aside for the dinner. Speaking of food, I have been experiencing intense Big Mac cravings for the past 3 days. Shame on me, I know….
Before we know it, we arrive at another and the very last refugio – Tello, which also represents the end of 16th stage. It’s a huge white house. It resembles a prison…sort of. We don’t really like it but we still go in to explore it. It’s pretty abandoned which means no trail magic (meaning sale of beer/wine/lemonade) for us. We only find a half-empty bottle of red wine of unknown age and origin inside. I always say I never refuse wine but I’m definitely not brave enough to give this one a try. The shelter has a decent capacity. This webpage says it’s for 12 people but I think with pads and sleeping bags, more people could fit in (perhaps even double the amount). While resting for a while, I prepare the second coffee of the day. My caffeine and sugar addictions are striking. I feel a strong sugar craving again and so I toss the coffee off at least hoping that it will satisfy those cravings.
Hiking becomes though during the afternoon. Somehow we lost the morning drive and energy and are ambling forward wearily. We pick some half-wizened blackberries on the way hoping for a small sugar boost. We encounter a cavalry of cows again and walk together with them. It takes some time before the smarter individuals realize that they could move out of the way. We would like to reach another official campsite – Puente Palo today and hike 25 km, so that we only have 10 left for tomorrow. This means we still have 5 km to go but I’m somewhat tired already and additional hour of hiking seems like too much. For the very first time, I decide to use doping – music – to enhance my performance. With Yungblud screaming into my ears, it suddenly goes much easier. I set up a fast pace, Thomas is catching up and we scoot forward.
We reach the camp before 5 pm. No need to mention we’re the only ones there. Compared to La Roza, this campsite is totally neglected and abandoned. The bathrooms are pounded to pieces, a building,which probably used to serve as a bistro, is locked and so the main perks this place has to offer are the picnic tables and good spots for tents. That’s good enough for us. We are truly hungry and so we prepare dinner right away. We set up our tent further from the path in a dense pine forest. Before going to bed, I go to the nearby stream to fill the water. For the last time on this trail I observe a beautiful colourful sunset. This puts a big smile on my face and for a short moment all thoughts (thoughts of today being the last day on trail, thoughts of return to reality, thoughts of work…) are gone. My mind is at peace and all is well…