Today’s distance 28 km
Elevation gain 747m
Elevation loss 861 m
Total distance from Almería 189.5 km
We leave earlier than usual at about 7:20 because of today’s long hike. Some grey cloud is hanging in the sky and the view is a little hazy.
There is an initial very steep climb out of town and we take the high road that leads us to the top of the ridge of rock that separates two very deep and fertile valleys. We are all carrying extra weight today because of the food and water that is necessary on this long stage without any facilities and the continuous climb is taking its toll!
As usual first thing it’s quite cold, today with a chilly wind. I have been wearing my shorts every day because my legs don’t really feel the cold, but my upper body does, so I have been wearing a sleeveless merino T-shirt, arm warmers, a lightweight fleece and a scarf, and sometimes, first thing, a buff around my head to keep my ears warm. This combination allows me to adjust the arm warmers, fleece sleeves and scarf as necessary to keep warm or cool down. There has been no need for a rain jacket so far this camino – and long may that last!
It’s late morning before the sun puts in an appearance, and then there is a battle between the cool wind and the warm sun and my sleeves are up and down with great regularity.
The views from the ridge into the valleys are beautiful, the huge rock formations in this area are incredible, but it doesn’t make for easy walking.
The first 8 km out of La Peza are along wide driveable gravel tracks that pass through woodland and we climb and drop as often as my sleeves are adjusted – but the first three-quarters of this stage are definitely mostly about the climb. We are then directed onto another river bed, deep sand, which runs alongside the road. A couple of us kept to the river bed for over 3 km, but the road would have been much easier and there probably isn’t much traffic.
Then we cross the road to another wide track meandering around the contours of the mountains. One of us thought that whoever dug the track should have made it more horizontal to save us having to climb so hard – but where’s the challenge in that?
Nina and I stop for breakfast at 13 km when we find a spot sheltered from the wind and then take another break a few kilometres further on where we are joined by Gwen and Marilyn.
At 22 km we pass through a towering white quarry where the sun reflects brightly off the rock face. And shortly after this there is a diversion which shaves around 3 km off the stage, for which we are very grateful. And from this point on the tracks were more rugged and on varying terrain. And very steeply downhill for quite a few km.
In Quentar we are staying in a small townhouse (Casa Rio Quentar, booked via booking.com) and have a roaring fire going. The kitchen is well equipped, there is plenty of hot water for showers and we have use of the washing machine. It costs 17 euros per person for five people. Number six opted to stay in a small hotel in the village. For those of you concerned about my diet – thanks for your concern, but there is no need. I have cooked a healthy meal and have all the protein I need to keep me going.
There was also a question about how my feet were bearing up – I hate to tempt fate, but so far, so good. I take preventative action by using silicon toe caps where I know I am prone to tender spots and am alternating between toe socks and my old merino wool liner socks.