Picos 2011 Day 4:Canal de Trea
Sunshine in the morning. Breakfast of coffee and badly made porridge (thin enough to drink!) I had pre-measured and mixed enough porridge, dried milk and sugar to last the whole trip but had neglected to record how many spoonfuls of mixture per day. D’oh!
As the weather was good there was no reason not to go down the Canal de Trea. I packed up and put support bandages on both knees,hoping to avoid knee injuries that have plagued me in the past. I followed the path through the boulders same as yesterday to the head of the canal. It was a totally different experience. I could now see how the twists and turns fitted together and there were things in the landscape I’d had no idea of yesterday!
I noticed the scout group with whom I shared a camp site were following about 10 minutes behind me. The guide book says that no map accurately represents the Canal de Trea and I could see why. Twists and turns over broken, rocky ground. Zig-zags next to steep drops, scree slopes and boulders. It was quite a path!
As the hours past and the altitude decreased the path become more difficult. Scree slopes giving way under my feet, my towering backpack knocking me off balance. Above me the scouts would occasionally dislodge rocks which came skittering and bouncing down the slope. Whenever I heard a rock slide I’d turn and check if I was in danger. Thankfully the scouts were a sufficient height above me I had a few seconds to move if needed.
At the end of the canal the bare slopes gave way to woodland. A couple of guys climbing the canal told me it was only an hour to go until the bottom. Shortly the path along the Cares gorge came into view. The people looked tiny beneath me. I had been descending for over three hours now and was getting tired. A few times I stumbled and slipped, never quite falling over. Every time I’d caution myself to be more careful as the drop was still significant.
The end of the canal greeted me with two goats intent on eating my map. I was down. At last.
After a short break I turned south and headed for Cain and lunch. Just before reaching the village I stopped at the river to take my boots off and cool my feet. Bliss. Lunch was a € 10 menu de dia. Coke, Fabada and the most delicious roast chicken and chips I can remember tasting. Dessert was a ‘natilla’ a kind of custard. I scoffed the lot rapidly, bought a bottle of water and set off on the long hike up the road to my camp site. The road walk was only about 10km but with a 500m climb.
It started to rain shortly after I left Cain. I didn’t bother with waterproofs as it was still warm and the rain was refreshing. After an hour or so I stopped to check the map under the shelter of a tourist information hut. The girl inside asked me where I was headed. I told her that I was going to a camp site marked on my map, another 6km away. She told me that it no longer existed but I could find accommodation in another village, a little closer. I thanked her and continued on my way.
Climbing up and up, the same taxis passing me again and again -their drivers beginning to wave at me as they passed me for the third or fourth time. As I reached Los Llanos de Valdeon I saw an ‘Albergue’ (Bunk house) at the roadside. A man on the balcony, whom I took to be the owner invited me in. He wasn’t the owner, but a guest. The albergue was € 10 per night. A bargain!
The clientele were a mixed bunch. Some Spaniards, 2 Germans, 2 Poles (living in Spain) and a Belgian lady who, like me was travelling alone in the Picos.
After dinner Natalie, the Belgian and myself wandered around the village. We stopped at a bar for a drink and found Dietrich and Regina so we joined them. Shortly after the Poles Andre and Alexandra joined us. Conversation was varied and in a range of languages, with English, Spanish, German, Polish and French being spoken at various times!
The staff at the bar were the same as in the restaurant in Cain.
After the bar we went back to the albergue to continue our chat and to eat a little supper. The man from the balcony joined us and proceeded to explain that historically ‘Castilla y Leon’ had been separate provinces and that Leon was better. I think…