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Fuente De to Posada de Valdeón: May 16, 2022 65.06 Miles Walked
Traffic Jams, Wildflowers, and Cheese
The route we walked today was the old route that the people from the Valdeón valley used to take their market goods to Potes. Let’s just say those old folks were WAY tougher than people now a days. The only pass that connects those two towns has an elevation gain of around 1,500 feet and is over 15 miles between the towns. We only had to walk 10.3 miles from Fuente De and it really gives you an understanding of how tough people were back in the day.
Starting with a part of the trail we walked down yesterday, we got to walk up that part again. Of course, we don’t mind because the views get better and better the higher up you go. The entire Picos de Europa area was originally a sea bed that millions of years ago was pushed up by tectonic action. That means limestone is the main rock, so water and wind do their magic on a small scale and glaciers do their thing on a gigantic scale to shape such a fantastic landscape. The mountains are tall and the valleys are deep. Even better, some massifs look like the Rocky Mountains and across the valley they look like the Smokey Mountains so the contrast and comparison are wonderful.
Yesterday we had huge amount of wind at the summit and today was also very windy when we the first half of the trail. Even though we were sweating from all the up, we were quickly in our jackets and sweaters to keep out the cold. What made today’s wind great was that it was in our face. So far through our trip, no matter where we climbed up, the wind was always strategically placed so it was at our back making everting hotter. My theory is that the Spanish government employs a person who monitors each hiker and adjust the winds to come from their backside just to keep them sweating. I guess today the person responsible for forcing the wind to your back must have taken a day off or something. The only problem with all this wind over the last two days is that Pam, who everyone knows for that glorious curly mane, now has straight hair. Fortunately, I kept my hat on or I would have been bald.
Today’s hike was neat in that we had up for the first half and down for the second half. Going up we were pretty quickly above the trees and looking at a lot of shear rock walls to our right and shrub covered mountains to our left. We had to stop at one point because down in the valley we could hear sheep bells and saw a huge flock of sheep moving from one pasture to another. All that bleeting and higher pitched sheep bells made for an interesting soundscape as we watched them. They were too far away to take pictures but it was fun to watch anyway. We eventually counted three dogs herding the sheep with the sheep herder in the rear. We started counting the sheep, but fell asleep each time we tried. Eventually we guesimated there were around 150 sheep in the herd.
After watching the sheep from night above, we ran into a problem, a real Cantabrian traffic jam. A herd of horses were in the middle of the trail. There were three or four babies so we wanted to play it cool and not scare anyone (both Mommas and us!). The Cantabrian horses eventually move to new grass to eat so they moved on without us having to wait too long.
We turned off the road we had been walking on because we were supposed to follow the real path across the path. Being above tree line we could see forever. Those majestic rock faces showed their good side even though it was mostly cloudy all day.
After popping over the pass, we dropped into a completely different world. While there were vaulting stone mountains, the ground was covered with wildflowers. Being a windswept area they were all close to the ground, but tons of beauty with each step. We made the worst time of the trip in this section because we kept stopping to take pictures. It would be mean to show you each one, but two pictures are worth sharing. The first is just a wonderful picture.
The second flower, while looking innocent enough is a spy. There’s something about the patterns on the petals because whenever we tried to take a picture of it, they were never in focus. We tried dozens of time and only one picture that worked. We were in hysterics trying to get a picture of this elusive, modern camera focus buster. Eventually, Pam got one:
Coming down, we ran into our second Cantabrian traffic jam of the day. This time it was a large (for this area) herd of a bull, many mothers, and a bunch of baby cows hanging out right across the entire area. They weren’t going to be moving any time soon so we took pictures and made sure we didn’t cause any issues.
On the walk down there was a lot of loose rock and dirt. We both managed to fall down twice, but there were no injuries at all. The worst was when I fell backwards and reached out to grab something to help break my fall. I grabbed straight onto a nettle bush, which was far worst than the fall. My hand “stingled” (I made up that word!) for a good while after that. Oh well. We are thrilled to report that even though we are doing a lot of hard walking there are no blisters or soreness at all.
We eventually popped out in Posada de Valdeón an absolutely drop dead gorgeous municipality of eight villages surrounded on three sides by big mountains. It’s huge at 526 residents. We are staying at Rural Picos de Europa and are pleased to be the only guests yet again. When we got to the room we opened the windows to the greatest view we have ever seen from a hotel room. It’s the wonderful mountains that surround the town. When doing the checkin, I told the owner that I could not believe how beautiful the view was and how badly I wanted to live here. She said she needed a change of pace so we agreed that we are swapping places for a while. Pam and I hope you come for a visit. We know you will love the views and activities here. Just kidding (sadly).
There’s no dinner at our hotel so we had to eat on the town. There’s only two restaurants so, being Monday, we chose the one that was open. The meal was good, but I have to tell you about my desert. I chose the local cheese. When I did, the waiter asked “Are you sure?”, which I took as a challenge. He explained that the cheese was a blue cheese made in town and was “…picante y diferente…” (sharp and different). He still didn’t scare me off trying it. The blue cheese came out on a spoon and having the consistency of cream cheese with a gray/green color. That was definitely different from any blue cheese I had ever had. It was also the best blue cheese I have ever had. At the end I told the waiter, who owned the restaurant, that he had given me a wonderful gift by offering me that cheese. He was genuinely thrilled that I liked it. If you like blue cheese, I have found your nirvana!
Tomorrow is going go be fun as we are going to be hiking one of the most famous trails in all of Spain. Thanks for reading!