The first day of hiking brought me down into the valley of the river Ebro almost at sea level. The closer I came to the river the more terraces and olive trees. The farmers were harvesting the olives and I saw several oil mills. And I found myself a cosy campsite on an abandoned terrace out of the wind. As usual the morning was cold but I soon beheld a beautiful sight: a mandarin tree. I was so enthusiastic that I stuffed all my pockets with the fruit only to realise five minutes later that there were mandarin and orange trees everywhere! The Ebro valley is agricultural country and the main produce seems to be olives and citrus fruit. The farmers and I were all dressed in hardcore winter clothes but for me the juicy fruits felt like summer. This was what I had hoped for: free fruit even in winter. This gave me the idea for another winter hike: there is a new trail, GR 99 or Camino del Ebro, that follows the river for 1,200 km. The stretch I had seen was brand new and incredibly well marked and signposted.
I seriously started to worry about the rest of this hike. If the cold temperatures and strong winds continue especially in combination with snow this hike will turn into torture. But the next day at least one of these problems was removed. Once out of the park I entered cattle grazing country again. Although at the same altitude I was in more open country now and there was no trace of snow here. Even the wind relented and I spent another very cold night at 1,100 metres. The cold had one good thing: there were no more cows in the pastures.