When I camped on top of the plateau before Cortes de Pallas under a lone pine tree I thought I had an easy walk into town next day - I just had to descend from the plateau into the valley with its huge reservoir. But you never know what you get on the GR 7. First there was no trail any more where it should have been according to my GPS track. I searched around and finally discovered some red and white blazes nearby that disappeared on a rock precipice. I searched around to find a trail down - but nothing. As going down the precipice and then follow a creek bed was the most natural way down from the plateau I finally threw down my poles and backpack and climbed down. And for sure soon the waymarking picked up again but ended in a bushwhack from hell. Although well marked the trail had not been maintained for decades and was almost completely overgrown. I had just recently discovered a nasty Spanish specialty: One species of shrub has needless that not only scratch you, but the tip of the needle breaks of and gets stuck in your skin. I had been wondering why the scratches take so long to heal. The reason is that the scratch festers in order to get the little to out. Once I discovered that I squeezed it out and the scratches heal quickly.
|Cortes de Pallas Reservoir|
|Full moon hiking|
But although very cold most mornings here are incredibly beautiful in an almost surreal way because of the clear sky, intense light and morning mist. Today's goal was the Mt Caroche which was easily reached via wide forest roads. Here I met a game warden of this public hunting reserve whom I quizzed for almost half an hour. From him I learnt about the private hunting reserve close to Chera and about trail maintenance. You have to do trail maintenance only every 5 years and it now seems to be even more of a shame how neglected some trail portions are.
|On the way up to Caroche|
This was my last night camping out before Bocairent and a bed. I had been hiking and camping over a week without stop which is almost too long in these cold conditions. I was longing for a bed and central heating. This last night was also the hardest as the Sierra was high and shrub only. It was difficult to find a campsite and it was completely in the open. So first I had heavy condensation and then it froze completely over. It is hard to get up and hike at sunrise under these conditions. After shaking and rolling up the tent I could shake off a big pile of snow: frozen over condensation.... The morning was cold but again incredibly beautiful with views down into the valley. 20 km left to Bocairent which I passed through another hunting area with plenty of "Enter at own risk" signs.. And finally on a cold and overcast day I arrived in long awaited Bocairent, bought some food in the supermarket and collapsed in my room.