The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 23 October 2017

Monday 23 October - Urkiolagirre (1011m) and Baskonia (973m)

We woke to fog this morning, but I felt sure that it would burn off in time, so we tarried and set out at 11. It was still foggy as we made our way up the same path as we had walked in the rain yesterday...

... but there were signs of brightness, so if it didn't burn off before we reached the top, we hoped to be treated to an inversion.

It wasn't long before we were in clear air, with this view being the first we saw:

With the best of both worlds, there was also an inversion over to one side of us...

...whilst in the direction we were heading, it was perfectly clear at all levels:

What a contrast to yesterday:

Same spot, 24 hours apart

In the delay before we set out I'd done a little research about the highest point on the ridge shown in the snap above. The chap at the Visitor Centre had discounted it as 'difficult' and, as I was keeping him from his lunch, I didn't question him as to the nature of the difficulty. The description I found this morning told me that it was easy until the last pull to the summit, which involved an easy climb over polished rock with exposure. That settled it: polished rock + exposure = no visit to the summit for us!

We did wander up onto the ridge, though, and enjoyed elevenses in a lovely spot with cracking views:

The person in this shot is not Mick - he was sitting next to me as I took it

Not far away from us on the ridge was a small prominence with something marking its summit (we couldn't quite see from a distance what it was; a very small cross, we guessed), so we thought we may as well nip up there and at least have visited one of the high points on the ridge, even if it was far from the highest (the top I'd discounted is actually the highest point in the whole of the Natural Park).

Looking back to our elevenses spot, there are three buildings in this snap - two that looked like substantial shepherds cabins and the other was a small chapel. They blend in well, so they're possibly not visible in this reduced-size snap

Mick was making good progress towards the summit when he suddenly pulled up with an 'oh' and told me to be careful. As is common in limestone areas, there was a hole in the ground. Having given this one a wide berth, we then crawled back towards its edge and peered over. It was almost perfectly round, about 2m in diameter, and we could not see the bottom. We crawled away and continued onwards.

The little rocket thing marking the top helpfully had the name plate telling me the name and altitude of the lump on which we were standing.

After a short retracing of the steps, a slightly different route (a grassy rather than a muddy one) was taken to the track that was to return us to Bertie. It turns out that I was uncharitable towards that track in yesterday's rain, when I said it was through forest, with no views. Under today's perfect sky I noted that not only were there glimpses of views through the trees but there were also quite a few tree-free sections. It also seemed a much shorter return leg today than it had in yesterday's soddenness.

It wasn't a long outing, coming in at just 5.25 miles with 1500' of ascent, but it was quite lovely in today's conditions.

A map snippet of what we did. The black line is the route I downloaded. I've drawn in the blue line where we deviated from that route. I tried, but failed, to also draw in a line to show where we went further NW along the ridge.

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