Posts Tagged ‘Picos de Europa’

Los Picos

In Plenary, Practice on August 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Los Picos

It isn’t the views that make me nervous. We awoke this morning to mist and now we’ve driven up into it on one of the winding highroads that wend their way through the Picos. The mist is grey and wet. So is the road. No, it’s the invisibility of the valley, far below the roadside on my left, that induces vertigo. It’s cold too – we’re nearing the sixteen-hundred metre mark and the sunless gloom is chilly. I’m preparing myself for heartbreak; I’ve been waiting for this hike for many months but it’s really about the views. Apart from the obvious danger of trying it in these conditions, it would be pointless.

I haven’t brought a jacket and it’s wet out there. I curse myself and my breathtaking stupidity. We’re not quite at the point of giving up and turning around, although I’ve suggested it a couple of times, clinging instead to the hope that the summer sun will start to burn the cloud off by late morning. When we finally reach the little right-hand turn we’ve been looking for, no such luck. K is trying to shake me out of my black mood and suggests we descend to the next village for a coffee to give the weather some more time to improve.

It illustrates a striking oddity of mountain weather that when we get to the village – a ten minute drive  – it is sunny, bright and warm. We are encouraged and sit with our coffee for half an hour before heading back up. Still no luck – we drive right back into the murk and park the car at the end of the unmarked little road. The beginning of the route is also unmarked so we have no idea where to go. More

La Garganta

In Practice on August 13, 2013 at 11:52 am

La Garganta

We walk the Cares gorge, beginning at its upper reach in Cain where nobody smiles and landlords tell you that you can’t use the wifi, even when it says “Wifi” on the outside of their bar. Oh, they’ll confirm that they have it – but it isn’t for you. Where your own landlord tells you that you can’t check in because check-in time is noon (this at eleven fifty, in the middle of nowhere). Seriously, people of Cain – cheer.the.fuck.up. I’m left wondering what the hell happened here, that they should be like this.

The weather falls well short of optimal – a grey and drizzly day that necessitates my horribly ineffective Primark rain jacket and a poncho from the gift shop for K. I finally renounce my long-standing anti-extendable hiking stick stance and buy myself an extendable hiking stick. We set off.

It very quickly becomes apparent that, despite what has been a very irritating morning – the smell of burning rubber from Polly’s brake pads, annoying news on Gibraltar/Spain relations, rain, Cain – this is going to be one hell of a walk. The river Cares has gouged out this gorge between the central and western massifs of the Picos de Europa; the mountains themselves are dizzyingly tall masses of solid rock on such a scale as to have me wondering if my eyes are deceiving me. In some places the gorge is a mile deep.

Starting at this end, the path – which was originally blasted out of the rock to facilitate maintenance of the canal that feeds More