Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 3 - Casa Pablo to Ochagavia

48km, 1600 metres of ascent
Day 3 of the trip dawned cold and driech with low hill fog, but thankfully the strong winds and heavy rain during the night had abated. Four tent-less Basque hikers looked very much the worse for wear after spending the night sheltering under a tree! I overtook the 4 Basque walkers on the first climb, but then became confused in the mist when the red and white markers didn't match the route on my map. I found a good trail contouring eastwards and followed this, but didn't see any marks and luckily a hiker coming back the way confirmed that we were off route thereby allowing us to backtrack and figuring that we should be heading north to the Collado de los Puentes and descending to the Barranco Suringoa on a completely re-routed section of GR11 to Burguete.
At Burguete the 6 of us went to a bar for some coffee and breakfast, and hung out some of our wet kit to dry.
The guy on his own suddenly announced he was leaving, so I volunteered to join him for the next section. Unbeknown to me, the next 2 sections were totally different to my maps, so it was just a question of following the markers and hoping for the best.
A few hours later we arrived at Obara, after a very steep overgrown descent, but there was nothing open, so we just pressed on down the valley and up the other side to Hiriberri. By this stage I was desperate for something to eat and drink, so it was pretty disappointing to enter the village and find not a single shop or bar. However after a bit of badgering a local woman, we discovered that one of the buildings was in fact a bar, but they preferred not to advertise the fact. So I few minutes later we were having ice cream, beer, a huge salad, and bacon sandwiches.
It was now around 4.30pm and scorching hot outside, but I decided to press on anyhow, with the half-baked notion of reaching Ochagavia that evening. I wasn't too concerned if I didn't make it, since I could camp and continue the next morning.
I bade farewell and headed out into the heat for a 500m climb up onto a long ridge running east where it intersected with the old GR11 at Paso de las Alforcas. I watched the sun setting before I arrived at the final section dropping through dense woodland. To avoid getting the headtorch out, I raced down this as fast as I could and popped out at Ochagavia just as the church bells were striking 10pm.
I dropped down into the town square, but the bars out in Spain are still full of smokers, so there were was no chance to get any food or drink, and instead I walked down to the camping ground, pitched my tent and painfully rolled into my sleeping bag.

More photos from Day 3

Route map for Day 3
View GR11 - Day 3 in a larger map

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