Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tuesta - Armiñón

GR1 Sendero Historico day 13.
Distance: 35.2km (393.1km), time spent: 08:45.
Waymarking: Good.
Weather: Fog in the first part of the day, clear blue sky in the second.

Today was by right a day of two halves, where I went to Armiñón. In the first part of the day, fog lay densely across the landscape, but it had disappeared by the time I left Fontecha and for the reminder of the day it was glorious weather. Paradoxically, after all my longing for sunshine and a clear blue sky, it was the walk in the mist that was the best part of the day. I took a taxi from Armiñón to Miranda de Ebro.

Leaving Tuesta in the morning, the fog lies densely across the landscape, village and Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

To walk in the mist was however not so bad, quite the opposite. This part of the route, with all the acres and fields that I passed through would not normally be very exciting; but in the fog, the views turned into a mystical landscape. Definitely cool. The only small problem the fog caused was that I had to pay closer attention to the waymarks; many of them disappeared in the low clouds. I walked for five kilometres in this sea of clouds, among unseen goblins and gnomes, before I arrived at Salinas de Añana.

Signpost in the mist between Tuesta and Salinas de Añana.

The fog added an additional layer of mystery to Salinas de Añana. When I came to the saltpans after I had walked through the village, I just had to stop dead in my tracks and savour the view with my eyes. This was an amazing place, slightly surrealistic and eerie (in a positive way). And the mist made the impression just even stronger; I do not think the experience of the place would had been so powerful if I had been there on a sunny day. The saltpans lay like wooden terraces up the hills that vanished into the fog.

Salinas de Añana, a slightly surrealistic and eerie place in a positive way.

According to the guidebook, there are plans to make the site gaining status as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Not difficult to understand, it was hard to let go off the place. With the village at my back, the trail first went down and around the saltpans. Small wooden irrigation channels ran alongside the path, I could look out over the salt terraces to the village on the other side, the village like the hill behind me also disappeared in the clouds. Finally, I walked up into the clouds and hills around.

Lago de Arreo-Caicedo de Yuso, you can barely discern the water from the clouds.

The mystical walk in the mist continued. On a field, there were several cotton balls in the fog, which turned out to be sheep. I could barely discern the surface of Lago de Arreo-Caicedo de Yuso. Going around the lake, I could look down towards it, but where the clouds ended and the water began was impossible to know. It could have been an abyss. In the grass, the cobwebs hung heavy with condensation, gleaming. Hidden beneath the fog, I entered a fairy tale forest, like a forgotten woods you read about in a novel. A small group of other walkers passed by me through the clouds in the forest, just by meeting a few people, made it feel crowded.

From Lago de Arreo-Caicedo de Yuso to Fontecha the route went through woods turned into a fairy tale forest in the mist.

The fairy tale was over when I came to Fontecha, the clouds and the magic spell was lifted. A Dutchman, a resident in the village, expressed anger of Norway's decision to allow killing of wolves. Apparently, he knew more than me what occurred back home (in Norway). In Fontecha, there are two defensive towers from the Middle Ages; I defended my stomach with lunch in the local bar. When I came out again, it was to an almost clear blue sky.

One of the two medieval defensive towers in Fontecha, the fog has lifted.

Unfortunately, some of the magic of the day disappeared with the fog, despite the sunshine and clear blue sky. The second part of the walk was comfortable and pleasant, but not as interesting. Low hills, cultivated landscape and fields, light views and several small villages where the common denominator for this part. Through a dry and open scenery until I crossed a large highway, through woods afterwards.

A fox on the run from the hiker, just before Caicedo de Yuso.

I met again the small group of walkers from earlier in Caicedo de Yuso. A fox lay basking in the sun at the path just before the village; it ran away when it spotted me (in an attempt to slowly sneak closer to get a picture). Until now, the walk had been a lonely one; I have been surprised over how few people I have met so far. Mostly it has just been me alone. After Salcedo, I met the first other walker that hiked the GR1 so far, Colin, who came walking in the opposite direction. At first, we were both just standing still and scratching the back of our heads; it seemed that we were both surprised to meet another person on the trail.

An optical telegraph tower from the 19th century above Armiñón.

Then we both shook off our surprise and stood talking for a little while. He was only walking a section of the trail and would this time just go to Reinosa. Contrary to me, who had not been able to sleep much in my tent, he had camped most of the time and was not able to sleep in a hotel or other accommodations. He warned me about that there were almost no waymarks in Catalonia, but I believe he meant Navarre. Shortly after we had walked our separate ways, I remembered that I had forgotten to warn him about the extremely overgrown path full of thorny bushes just before we met.

View over Miranda de Ebro from a viewpoint above the town. Below is the old town, on the other side of the bridge and river is the newer part of the town.

Standing overlooking the flat area around Miranda de Ebro was an optical telegraph tower, which was the most interesting thing on this part of the trip. Peeking out from the tip of a wooded cliff, I could see the tower before I came to it. Crossing Castille y Leon there are 52 towers like this. I missed the waymarking on the way down from the tower and took a different route down before I stumbled into the trail again just before Armiñón. When I arrived in the village, I was tired, this being the third day in a row where I had walked over thirty kilometres. My feet did not feel very happy.

In a park in the new part of Miranda de Ebro, someone had dressed the trees in various kind of knitting.

In Miranda de Ebro, I got a room at the Hospederia el Convento, a slightly more expensive option than originally desired, but I did not want to spent too much time and effort looking around for a better alternative. Better to walk around in the town afterwards instead and look at the town life. It was a welcome break from the otherwise lonesome walk on the trail. I had a nice afternoon and evening in the town. For dinner, I took a tapas round, walked from place to place and ate small delicacies. It was a good end of the day.

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