Thursday, September 22, 2016

Armiñón - Alto de Molino

GR1 Sendero Historico day 14.
Distance: 29.4km (422.5km), time spent: 08:50.
Waymarking: Mostly good.
Weather: Light overcast, then sun and clear sky.


I have often asked myself how I would deal with a situation in which I seriously had to consider if I should stop while I was on one of my long walks. These walks means a lot to me and to quit in the middle of one, I think would be very hard. At the same time, I know that if other people had asked me for advice regarding this, I would recommend them to think that no trip is worth getting home from with a permanent injury or that if you feel that the trip is not rewarding, it is entirely legitimate to quit. On the other side, I know that by giving up, you will get a feeling that you have not achieved what you set out to do. It is a difficult choice and not easy to make a decision, right or wrong. Today, I had to realize that I had came to the point where I sooner or later had to make exactly that choice.

A gnarled tree next to the path up towards San Formerio.

Right from the start today, I had felt that something was not right with my left foot. After I had visited Castillo de Portilla, it hurt so much that I just wanted to sit down; I was barely able to walk. The descent was long and painful. There were not many cheerful thoughts in my mind during this part. To ease the pressure on the front of my ankle, I walked with my shoe open.

San Formerio.

The views from San Formerio did at least take my mind away from my foot in the first hours of the walk. To get there, I had to leave the trail, but the additional walk was worth it, although my foot probably disagreed. Spilling out across the area was a pale light, which brought back memories from when I stood at the top of Monjardin and looked out over the Camino five years ago. Miranda de Ebro was to the southwest of me, in the west I could see the optical telegraph tower. Vague contours in the south gave away the location of Castillo de Portilla.

View from San Formerio in the direction of GR1, Castillo de Portilla is in the background of where the bird is flying.

At Castillo de Portilla or Portilla itself, the trail goes on an odd choice of path. Instead of going up to the ruins of the castle, the trail went up and around it. This felt kind of weird, since it was a marked path going down from the ruins that joined GR1 later. I left the backpack behind in Portilla and climbed up, you can always question the wiseness of that decision, given the condition of my foot, but it did not hurt so much walking upwards and I was now without the burden of my pack. The ruins were under maintenance.

A bag with candy and snacks that the owner of the bar in Berantevilla gave me.

From the upper ruins, the views were wide. Below, I could see where the trail continued, squeezed between the cliffs I stood on and a wooden hill. The detour was not so bad, but you will miss out on the ruins if you just follows the trail. While I walked down, I munched on the snacks that the owner of the bar in Berantevilla, where I earlier had lunch, gave me. An eagle stood poised on a small outcrop, before it leaped out and glided through the air above me. I was trapped between Castillo de Portilla and Castillo de Lanos.

Ruins of Castillo de Portilla.

In Ocio, I had to sit down and rest, at this time it was not in any way an alternative to climb up to the Castillo de Lanos. I felt guilty of wanting to steal the bottle of Coke of the man sitting on the other bench, it looked incredibly tempting. After stupidly feeling sorry for myself a little bit, I moved on.

View from Castillo de Portilla.

More thoughts came creeping while I walked in my slow pace. Should I walk to Peñacerrada? There the only place with accommodation was closed due to refurbishing, should I take the chance that it was another accommodation there? Another option was to get back to Miranda de Ebro, maybe I should have spent an additional day there. It was easy to think these kind of thoughts now. I filled up with water at Berganzo for safety's sake.

Approaching Ocio and Castillo de Lanos.

I was instead filled with an inner calm in the woods and hills above the village. At Alto de Molino, I made my decision, I walked down again. Not back to Berganzo or Miranda de Ebro. On the way, I had passed by a near perfect campsite, in a peaceful grove in the middle of the woods. At the grove, there was a water source, which clucked lively. A large metal table with benches was conveniently located at the place, but it was not particularly pretty. Excellent spots for the tent. I had resisted the temptation of being driven to Miranda by some walkers that I met on my way down again.

Through the woods from Berganzo on the way to Alto de Molino.

And it was perhaps in this small and peaceful place that there was hope. Around me, the woods were quiet, except for the sound of water flowing from the source. I could rest my feet on the bench. This brought back the thoughts that I had missed sleeping in my tent. Why I have not done it so much, just fell back on one thing, I had so far been unable to sleep when I camped down here. And I had no idea why. Although, today I had some hope of getting sleep in the night, I was tired.

My campsite at Alto de Molino.

Much of the joy of the day vanished in the pain. When I wake up tomorrow, I will be anxious about how the foot feels. Inside the tent, I lay listening to the clucking from the water source outside, it was unsteady, strange. I am fine when I relax in the tent, why I have not been able to sleep in it is a mystery.

With a foot that hurt, I found it perfectly acceptable to sit down at a table when dinner was prepared.

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