12.1mi/19.47km from Pola de Allande to Berducedo
Today began a string of longer days with significant climbs and drops as David and I go through the heart of the Cantabrian mountains. Today and the next 3 days, we’re looking at total climbs of over 2800 feet daily, with gradually increasing distances daily.
I love climbs – they get the blood flowing, they amazing panoramas they yield captivate the imagination, and they just make you feel alive. And that’s how I felt today! We began the day in the town of Pola de Allande, in a valley surrounded by fog. For the first few miles we gradually climbed upward on a path sometimes on, but often just paralleling a road.
A few good walls and benches gave us some opportunities to sit and stretch in the early going, until we got to an endless and relatively steep uphill portion that brought us to today’s high point, the Puerto del Palo, at 3760 feet above sea level. The climb to the top was truly invigorating and the panorama up there was absolutely breathtaking. Photos can’t really convey it!
However, at that point we’d only covered half the day’s hike. After a steep initial downhill section through loose rocks, we carried on 6 or so miles through very interestingly varied terrain including ferns, thorn bushes, and pine forest. As we went through the very old and picturesque village of Montefurado, we wondered if we would have any more access to water for the rest of the day. We asked the only person around, an older guy, if there was a water fountain nearby. He said “yes, but it’s only for us.“ We kept walking and sat down on a stone wall a few hundred yards later. After a few minutes, we heard that same man yelling off in the distance. Then two Spanish peregrinos passed us by, a little shell-shocked, and said “Wow, that guy back there… incredible,” and they kept walking. We’ll have to get that story when we see them again.
Anyway, a final stretch through green farm fields brought us to the quiet village of Berducedo. Here, our recently-renovated pilgrim albergue had a kitchen so we took full advantage, going to the local tienda and throwing together a huge meal to sate our considerable hunger. Climbing 3100 feet in a day will do that to ya!