Ruta del Cares

Today is the planned hike. The hike is the Ruta del Cares. The trail is a gorge route with breathtaking views through the Picos de Europa mountain range.

The trail is 12 km long (24 if you do roundtrip). After watching the hikers yesterday I decide I’m probably only doing one way and taking the bus back to my town.

I eat breakfast at the hotel and load my backpack with water and a sandwich made from the hotel. Backpack already feels heavy when I start off at 10 am.

My hotel is about 500 m from the start. It is a little walk uphill to get to the start.

There is a light mist outside and it is a little cool (but for me it means perfect).

Before my face gets all flushed and sweaty.
And up you go

That first 2 km is pretty harsh since it is all uphill ( also bad going back down too – talk about that later).

I got dizzy which is new for me; and I took lots of stopping breaks.

Look at this view!

Thank goodness the trail gets flat.

At the halfway point so its sandwich time.

I eat 1/2 my sandwich then I am off again.

I arrived at Cain about 2 pm.

Lots of people stop there to eat but I have already eaten half my sandwich so no plans to eat, but I do notice a stream where people are chilling.

I stop and take my boots and socks off. It’s painful yet massaging to walk on rocks to get to water, but water is super cold. It hurts. The cold has got to be good for my feet right?

I sit down and rest for a bit. Have every intention of finding a bus to ride it back to my town (as I’ve seen posted in message boards).

I wander into Cain looking for a bus sign. All I see is a bunch of cafes and places to buy walking sticks (probably should have gotten some of those).

No buses to be found, only guy with a van offering a 30 euro nature ride back to my town. Something doesn’t seem right and that is expensive. Taxis are probably even more. Did I just insanely decide to walk back? I think about the route, the toughest part being the 2k downhill. And the sun is out and beating down on most of the trail.

The hike back was pretty tough. I think really fit people will have no issue. People who are semi-muscular like me can handle it but I think starting really early and eating lunch on the other side before heading back is the way to go. I didn’t rest enough before heading back because I was taking too long. I should have just taken my time though. The sun stayed out late this time of the year and there were still people on the trail at the end (but not as many). The really cool way to go is go with those trek groups who will pick you up on the other side (but you have to pay and are probably under time constraints).

More amazing views on the way back.

If I did it again I would stay more days in the area. I would still do the up and back in one day but I would take my time. I would also try other trails. It is my understanding there is so much more to see in the area. I only got a taste of the area and I liked it.

Picos de Europa

This is the part of the trip where I try to sneak a hike in to get some exercise (because walking miles and miles a day isn’t exercise :D).

I am nearby to Picos de Europa. So I book a little hotel in the small town of Poncebos.

Beautiful view coming in. I had to stop for pictures a couple of times because it was that pretty.

My little hotel sits in a valley. There is one hotel next door and maybe some more down the road but not many in the area. However as I arrive the place is bustling with day hikers. There are so many cars parked all over the area that I hope I find parking. Luckily the hotel has a free space open in their private lot.

When I check in I notice hikers drinking their celebratory beers. They seem like serious hikers. Am I out of my league here? I decide that I can do the trip one way only if it seems too much to do the roundtrip.

There is no staying up late. Time for dinner and then bed. I ordered the trout that I guess was served with bacon on it. It was very good.

In addition I ordered the mixed salad which I thought was a side salad but ended up being a meal of its own. Topped with tuna so I guess tonight is a fish night.

Hopefully it will all prove to be good fuel for tomorrow.

Goodnight.

Peru 2018! Machu Picchu

Last day was a 3:30 am wake up. This is to ensure a sunrise view from the Sun Gate. Fate had something else in mind for us. The rain from the night before continued throughout the 3 hour hike. We walked through puddles; I fell on wet rocks. Luckily it was no more than a little soreness as a result.
Right before you get to the sun gate with that first view they play a huge cruel trick on you and make you climb these “monkey” steps. The steps are large odd steps that require your hands. I cursed like a sailor and climbed up the last challenge to get to the reward. However at the top there was no view really (see photo above). It was foggy and rainy still. No photo moments for me so we continued on to the next vantage spot where the view was a little better.

Everything about me is wet at this point

Finally when we get inside it clears a little. Just in time for our tour.

Everyone stops to wring out their socks.

The fog lifts more and more and the day turns out to be beautiful. What a great reward!!

After our tour we have some free time to wander around. Some climb back up to the sun gate. I am spent so I just wander around a little bit then go to the bus to take me to Aguas Calientes. I vow to come back and next time do the train option so I have the energy to do extra exploring of Machu Picchu.

Peru 2018! Inca Trail Day 2

We wake up early around these parts. Someone comes to your tent and places a bowl of hot water to wash in and asks if you would like some hot coca tea. The answer is always yes to coca tea. You need the energy and it will help with the altitude, especially today, the highest day. A rooster is getting in his call just in case you aren’t already awake. We started early at 5 am and were on the trail about 6:30. The plan is to go straight through with needed breaks and meet at campsite for a late lunch (instead of lunching 1/2 way). Well my lunch was actually at 4:30 vs 1:00, we will get to that later. Today was the most challenging day. High altitude and lots of uphill.

The terrain changes drastically on this day: You walk through rain forest like area, see alpacas on the trail, and then very dry on your ascent to the top. This is the day that is supposed to be the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard but the temperatures made this day more enjoyable. The goal is to hike to the Dead Woman’s Pass. The altitude is  At 4,215m (13,828 ft). It is very challenging to get up there and I did have a minor worry on the way up. I felt like my hands were becoming numb. I don’t know if it was all in my head but I did stop to rest at that point. One saving grace is that there is a nice area to chill before you start your ascent. There is someone selling water, sodas and snacks. My guide convinced me to get a coke even though I didn’t want the sugar. It was one time in my life I had no appetite yet I needed to eat in order to survive this hike.

Last stretch to the top. See the “boobie” like thing? That’s where I’m going.

At this point my DSLR went crazy. I guess it wasn’t meant for high altitude.

At the top

You get to enjoy your satisfaction at getting at the top but not too long because you really will be harmed by the altitude.

It is a long 2 hour downhill to the campsite. The steps are big and present a challenge to me.

 Because I am the last one out two porters seek me out and offer to carry my bag the rest of the way. It helped but was still challenging on the way down. Apparently I got taken down a short cut to the  camp site as well as the two other late girls (one American and the Canadian).
Luckily no I think no chickens here today. Just sound of other birds, bugs, and flowing water in the background.
Supposed to be the worst day and all “easier” from here but we will see if I can walk tomorrow
Today’s count 20000 steps.

Peru 2018! Inca Trail Day 1

Even though I felt like I was dying every night of the hike I forced myself to journal before bed. Thank goodness I did so I can later remember vividly how I thought and felt about the experience (and to remember why I never want to do it again, lol).

Day 1 had very short wait for entrance and I am surprised. Our leaders must have timed our entry correctly so we would have best use of the daylight hours.
I rented poles but they forgot one set of poles and almost didn’t get them because everyone grabbed theirs like it was a game of muscial poles and I had zoned out.  I was almost freaking out. It was going to be hard enough for me to do the hike but to do it without something to stabilize me – impossible. Fortunately one girl gave me hers and took the guide’s pole.

Waiting to enter trail

Sign guest book

Looking back at my photos it looks like I wore the same outfit every day. I don’t really remember that as a strategy but maybe I was saving the clean ones for sleeping and the last day.

Starting out was beautiful and hot. Very hot for me a good part of day and stairs were a bitch. Contemplating giving up a few times. Everyone tells you the first day isn’t bad. I don’t know what trail they were hiking? My first day was like a weed out class in college – get the weak to drop out.
I was the slowest and in the back of the pack most of time and because of that my breaks were short compared to others.

Doing the bathroom break almost right away. Very good bathroom placement.

First archaeological site along the way

It was embarrassing being in back. I booked this hike as a journey of self healing but day one only made me hate how out of shape I had become. However when I slowed down the hike was more enjoyable. Just wish day pack was lighter. Just wish I didn’t care that I was the slowest.

Lunch was cool. The porters are amazing. They rush ahead and set up the lunch tent for us and all food is read to be eaten. The hike is really well organized.

After lunch it rained. I used my poncho instead of jacket. It did cool things down but you are hiking in the rain and worried that you didn’t secure all your junk and everything will be soaked. The second part of the day hike was easier but I was happy to make it to the camp site.

Hikers and all the men who helped keep me alive.

More notes from my journal ….
Peed only twice on trail and realized not getting enough water because I had dark pee. Tried to make up for it but was too late. Got migraine like headache and food was not digesting well.
Didn’t feel better until taking migraine medicine later that night. Thank goodness I brought my medicine.
A sleeping pad helps but I still struggle for nighttime comfort. Let’s see if I get used to it tomorrow. Food good, trout for dinner, but I have little appetite. Need to try to eat more to sustain energy.
Luckily one hiker has been keeping track of our steps – 16000 steps that day!

Out West 2017! Moab

We only had one day for Utah and I wanted something on the way to Denver so I chose to visit Arches in Moab.

If you ask people who have visited Moab whether Canyonlands or Arches is better the answer will be 1/2 and 1/2 like what happened to me. So I chose one and I was utimately happy with my choice.

We arrived early at Arches National Park and obtained a map. We were up for a hike and there were many trails to take. Ultimately the Devils Garden Trail is selected.

Devils Garden had a rating of both easy and difficult. It appears that the first part of the trail is the easy part and you can turn around if you don’t wish to go on (1.9 mi/3.1 km roundtrip). We chose to go on past that as far as we could (5.1 miles/8.2 km).

Start of Devils Garden Trail
We got to see our first arch

The first part was pretty easy dirt paths that were well defined.

Then we come to the first sign that this isn’t no ordinary trail. All I see is stones that go straight up.

Up those rocks you go

I am officially scared at this point. I have hiked many times but I only have one past rock scrambling experience and that was scary for me to complete (Hiking in Mohonk).

I see people of all ages going up and down that rock; even a guy with a baby on this back. If they can do it then I can do it. I hike up to the top.

Looking back

Once over the first obstacle it continues on with more mini-hurdles to get over until eventually you get the view of more arches.

View from the other side of the arch
narrow passage ways
More obstacles for me to get up and over

We went over these rock formations that I can only describe as “trust the process” rocks. There are a few cairns but cairns don’t tell you that there is not a quick drop at the other end of the rock formation. You must trust the process and just move forward. There is always a (semi-safe) way down.

And finally the “dong” photo. It is actually called Dark Angel.

Yes I am a 40 something woman with the humor of a 12 year old boy

Shortly after the big rock it was time to go back. There was a “primitive trail” to go back but I figured the regular trail was enough work so I went back the way I came. Those rocks were much easier now that I knew what to expect. It was a lovely day at Arches. I feel like wonder woman now! I recommend a visit.