Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 4 - Ochagavia to Zuriza

35km, 2010 metres of ascent
I was up early on a quiet deserted campsite. I took a shower and washed some clothes and socks, and left the campground at 8am. Half an hour later I was still trying to find my way out of Ochagavia, which helpfully has no signs for the GR11 or any paint marks. I had tried every avenue I could think of, and eventually consulted the Cicerone guidebook which gave a useful description, and lo and behold once I'd walked up the pista leaving to the north-east of the village for about half a mile I saw the first red and white marker of the day.

The first 20km were entirely on forestry pistas, which was a bit mind-numbing, but the final descent jumped back into the forest onto steep rough switchbacks dropping eventually onto the main road below Isaba. The short walk up into the town centre was frighteningly hot, so I had a short break in the shade to re-group with the usual bread, cheese, water and biscuits. I then hunted around the village for ice cream or cold drinks, but there was absolutely nothing open, not even a bar.

For the afternoon shift it was back into the heat for more foresty pista leading into steeper grander mountain landscape. I was feeling pretty jaded when I reached the Barranco Bellabarze where hundreds of schoolkids were camping, and the climb up to the Collada d'Argubiela knocked the stuffing out of me. I was just craving a lie down, but when I reached the col I realised it was a road crossing and the signs said only 1 kilometre to Zuriza, so I thought there was no point in stopping and stumbled down a rough short cutting path to hit the perimeter of the campground, which I then walked almost the whole way around trying to find the entrance.

It was not especially late, and I could have pushed on a bit further along the trail, but I was feeling sufficiently wrecked, and the campsite looked great that it seemed pretty obvious to stay put and make the most of the supermercado.

I also managed to catch the World Cup semi-final between Spain and Germany, which ended 1-0 to Spain off a Carlos Puyol header from a corner in the 73rd minute.

More photos from Day 4

Route map for Day 4
View GR11 - Day 4 in a larger map

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