GR11 Hiking

Day 18: This Is What We Do Now

Kilometres walked: 27km  / Total distance: 350km / Elevation gain:  1400m/ Elevation loss: 1042m / Time walked: 7h2min

Another day, another pass, another up, another down. This is what life is, this is what we do now. We walk.

Breakfast at the refuge (Pineta), easy forest trail, and suddenly there is cell service. I leave a long voice message for Antonio -to let him know I miss him, and that I’m proud of how I handled the descent yesterday- and quickly upload a blog post.

The New Normal

Up the mountain we go again. Is this steep? It’s not cruising, that’s for sure, but what I found impossibly hard in the beginning now seems the new normal. My trail bubble is a little bit ahead, but I prefer hiking alone. My own pace, my own thoughts, my own company.

I catch up with them while they’re having a break. Cheese, apples, and a mueslibar get passed around. From our snackspot we have a view over the descent we did yesterday, we’re now on the other side of the valley. We can’t see the trail, and from here it still looks impossibly steep. So glad that’s behind us.

We continue together, each at our own pace. Sometimes a little bit ahead, sometimes a little bit behind.

The descent is mostly on a dirt road. The valley is nice, not spectacular, and after lunch (a packet of dehydrated soup with added couscous, and coffee) I put on my headphones and walk down the path. A welcome change of pace from yesterday. I’m almost running.

“Every mile and every year, every one a single tear” sings Nick Cave dramatically.

The afternoon is so hot that I can feel the heat from the pavement on the soles of my feet, and my arms burning under the sun. I’m almost in town, crunching kilometers, and when finally there I order a soda and a glass of water, and wash my face in the restroom. The rest of the bubble arrives. They stay here tonight and check in, while I check the weather forecast and how much food I need to buy until the next resupply stop.

Resupply

Thunderstorm tonight. Yellow warnings for hot temperatures (check), rain and thunderstorms. Possibilities of flash floods. Predicted for 21:00. I consider; do I still feel like camping or do I check if there is place at the hostal?

There is supposedly a good (wild)camping spot an hour and a half into the climb and I decide to go for it. If I can find a good pitch the storm will be fine.

But first: groceries! There are three or four supermarkets in Parzán but the first one I visit has everything I need. Tortillas, cream cheese, carrot, cucumber, avocado, couscous, candy, nuts, snickers, powdered lemonade, and some fresh pastry with cinnamon (yum) for tomorrow morning.

With a bag full of groceries and 3L of water my pack is super heavy. I set out for the climb and my shoulder strap is digging into my skin, cutting off a nerve or circulation so my left arm goes numb. Ugh. I plod on, dripping with sweat. Dark storm clouds are building overhead but not obscuring the sun yet, and it’s still hot. Luckily the climb is easy: more dirt road. More music.

“These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do”. How appropriate.

Storm

After an hour of powering uphill there is a flat grassy area on the right side of the trail. A perfect pitch! I consider my options: on the nice short grass in the pasture or on the long grass between the bushes and underneath the trees. Considering the coming storm I choose the latter, that way I’m a little bit more sheltered in case of hail and strong winds.

It’s 19:00 ‘o clock after I’ve set up camp. My shirt and bra -both soaked with sweat- are drying in the last rays of sun. I cook and eat dinner in only my shorts. Everything feels sticky and I’m dying for a wash, but there is no water up here and I forgot to buy wet wipes.

I stretch, read, write. I’m a bit restless, waiting for the storm. At 21:00 I go to bed. Nothing is happening. I slowly fall asleep.

At 21:30: lightning and thunder, followed by heavy rain. The storm has arrived, but I’m safely in my little cocoon. The tent is holding up just fine, shaking a bit in the wind. There’s no water pooling underneath, hooray for the tall grass. The storm lasts a little over an hour. I don’t sleep but calmly listen as the thunderclouds pass from one side of the valley to the next, until they disappear. By midnight everything is calm again, and I’m sound asleep.

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