Day 15 Villafranca monte de Oca to Cardeñuela Riopico 24.89km – 9hrs11mins -into the void!

This morning we left in the dark and we were the first to leave in the whole albergue. No wonder really, last night the choirmaster and I observed the comings and goings of everyone in the dormitory. There was not a person who walked past our beds at the entry door that wasn’t limping! Except us of course.

I say we left in the dark but let me be a little specific about our journey into the forest. It was pitch black- when we turned our lights off up the hill we couldn’t see our hands! Today was the day we were getting serious. We were initially in front of a bunch of European guys who soon overtook. But most people weren’t game to enter the forest when it was this dark. I was scared when my beloved was too far in front. I suspected the choirmaster was also when she joined the huddle around the two headlamps.

At the start I actually thought there was a light in front but it soon disappeared- were they hiding ready to pounce?. Logically even our lights couldn’t cut the mist and light more than a metre or two in front. It must have been someone from one of the other albergues.

It wasn’t long before an Irishman and a German showed up with limited vision and no headlamps. They were happy to use our headlights but they set a pace that had husband and the choirmaster heading off and me struggling to keep up. I had to call out because I was scared. It was both dark and misty so my headlamp created a goggle effect and had me hearing things behind when there was nothing there. The silence of the forest meant I heard every backpack creak.

Eventually we reached a timber rest area with a sign advertising coffee but it was way too early and cold for the manager to be there. We remembered a lady with cats last time. Odd to remember but anyway…

It had been another hard slog going up up up in the pitch Black Forest for 3 or 4 k’s so we sat and ate some of our bocadillo the lady had made for us after dinner. We had water instead of coffee or tea and off we went again.

There were a couple of danish ladies that slumped onto the timber slabs beside us. I was pleased I knew how to say hi to them (hi)

We walked into Agés and agreed with the sign that said “I walked ages to get to ages”

I also saw some beautiful Spanish ladies in great colours and asked for their photo. It’s great to chat with the older locals sometimes especially in their own tongue

We stopped briefly for a coffee in Ages with the not so friendly owner. We then stopped again at a bar near the end of town at aterpuerco. After here we had another stretch of up up up. The distance didnt seem as bad but the sharp embedded rocks were not pleasant.

At the top of the hill I needed to treat a couple of developing blisters so my beloved hung around while the choirmaster went ahead to locate a suitable albergue for the night.

We pulled in to Albergue Santa Fe in Cardeñuela Riopico after she had had time to shower and read the paper. We secured a bottom bunk each and headed in for the showers ourselves. It had been a long day and, whilst our arrival should have signalled a welcome reprieve, the chief executive bar manager was rude, unhelpful and almost angry in spite of us making every effort to speak Spanish.

Didn’t matter in the end because the oven chicken casserole was spectacular and our pizzas at the close of the night were also something special. And the rooms were clean.

Our room filled up throughout the afternoon so we went to bed hopeful there wasn’t a rogue snorer among them. The German in the top bunk above Thomas sat on the mobile at top volume for an hour while the choirmaster was trying to nap but other than that it wasn’t too bad.

We went to bed reasonably early so we could make it into Burgos before lunch por la manana!

Hasta luego

One Comment Add yours

  1. lelbylelbs says:

    Sometimes I long for complete dark and total silence… but when you get it? Fascinating account of how you felt. Ultra aware. XX


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