We have been without Internet at our lodgings for the flats few days so I am doing a catch up of 3 days today. I will post each of the blogs as written on the date to which they apply.
Today was meant to be an easy 17 k hike to Ruitelan but that was not meant to be. We ended up going about 23 k, the last 5 of which was a grueling uphill climb.
We left the wonderful Albergue Piedra in Bierzo at about 8:00 and it was cold, cloudy and windy. I had dressed for warmer temperatures so I marched quickly to keep warm. The walk was very pleasant as the way followed a river valley between two mountain ridges in the Sierra Ancares. The path meandered in step with the Rio Valcares. The river was to our left and the paved walkway, divided from the highway by a cement abutment, was on other side. We followed this easy route all morning and enjoyed the weather as the skies cleared and the sun shone.
Little towns were plentiful and we were able to stop at one to have a cafe con leche.
The highway towered above us on the mountain and the traffic moved over the village via a double decker bridge that allowed traffic on two different motorways to go from one mountain to the next without descending into the valley. Far below, underneath the bridge, we Peregrinos followed the country road from one sleepy village to the next.
We had a reservation at our intended destination of Ruitelan, but it was just on noon hour when we arrived - plenty of good walking time left in the day. We stopped at a roadside park to eat our lunch while we debated whether to stop here or continue.
After the village of Las Herreias and a long uphill highway climb, the pathway left the road and plunged down into the valley below us. Down, down we went, all the time wondering when the path would resume its uphill climb as we knew our next stop was higher, not lower.
When we reached the lovely rushing brook at the valley floor the path crossed to the base of the the other mountain and we started to ascend. It seemed to take forever. The sound of panting Peregrinos filled the air. We went from 750 m to 921 m in what looking at the map seems to be about 1.5 km.
The climb was worth it! At the top is the village of La Faba which has the most wonderful Albergue. I don't think we have stayed in another Albergue with a nicer setting. The place adjoins a beautiful little church. It exudes peace and tranquility, with wonderful benches placed strategically to allow one to contemplate the view . There is even the small stone pool which I am sure has eased pain in many Peregrino feet!
There is no Internet, I am sure purposefully so as to maintain the ambiance. I have written this blog offline and will upload it and the pictures when we move on. Right now I am going to put away my iPad and strike a meditative pose and soak up the feeling of well being which surrounds me.
Tomorrow we need to ascend the remainder of the altitiude to the peak. It is only 6 km from here but will be a fair climb before we stop for a break!