Trip Report – Picos de Europa Circuit – by site editor Rick McCharles
By morning I had no water. Looking up, my prospects for H2O did not look good.
Though my guidebook said I could find water in two places in the next few hours, I was not confident. This late in the season I might need to climb up high enough to melt snow.
I passed one trickle. Then – finally – saw a sign that I might find a spring.
Before I found the man-made spigot, I was approached by an exhausted looking Spanish mountain climber. He and his partner had gotten lost the previous day near the summit. And were forced to bivouac overnight. They had just gotten back to their tent.
He showed me the water source (about 1hr to fill a 1 litre bottle) and gave me detailed advice on how not to get lost on the next section.
Very quickly I was lost. His advice was all wrong.
Having climbed far too high, I arrived at another of the mountaineering base camps. Instead of retreating, however, I waited for a climber who was descending rapidly from the summit.
It was Constant, an adventurer from France. He was just as lost as I, … but had a vague idea of how to exit the base camp. And a wonderfully relaxed world view. His topo map did us no good at all. You need a topo and a GPS in these mountains.
I followed him directly to “civilization”.
Because of the water supply, I decided to camp (for once) close to the Vegarredonada refugio.
Here’s the bizarre old refugio, no longer used.
Everyone takes an obligatory 7.5km side trip to the old, old refugio at Mirador de Ordiales, guarded by this calf when I visited.
Here is Pedro Pidal’s (1870-1933) final resting place. He founded this, the first National Park in Spain and was named Commissioner General of National Parks.
…. Eight years after his death, his final wish – to be buried at this natural balcony – was fullfilled at last. Engraved in a nearlby rock are words he wrote:
Lover of the Picos, I would love to live, die and eternally rest here in Ordiales. In the enchanted kingdom of the chamois and the eagles.
I left a Summit Stone with Pedro, placing it carefully between the stones close to the ground.
Somehow Pedro grabbed it from my fingers, pulling it deep into a crack. I guess he wants to keep it for himself.
My view of the famous vista was obscured. Again. By cloud.
My last night in the wonderful Picos de Europa.
I was truly sorry to leave these mountains. This is a brilliant hike, one of the very best in the world.
See the rest of my photos from day 5.
The best guidebook in English is sketchy, at best, Lonely Planet Walking in Spain.
Leave a comment if you have any specific questions about this adventure.