A lovely walk up a ridge, with a coffee and a mouflon along the way.
Refuge d’ Asinau to Refuge de Palari (Stage 15)
Distance 13km, 429m elevation gain, 910m elevation loss.
We got out in record time this morning (Just over an hour) and headed down the valley. There were some little up and downs along a messy little trail through the woods until we reached the creek.
After that we traversed to the junction with the high-level route. After a quick discussion, we decided on the high level variant. Both routes had about the same elevation, but the high level route went over the ridge with the possibilities of better views, the low level route stuck to the valley floor, where we would be hiking mostly in the trees. We headed uphill steeply through the trees, the path smooth and almost pleasant if it weren’t for the steep gradient.
We slogged up the ridge below huge buttresses, like giant blocks on top of the ridge.
From there we traversed to the high point, Bocca de Pargulu (1662m) for an awesome view back to Mt Alcudina and down the spiky ridge.
We descended for a bit and Emily got distracted by a rocky tower with a scrambling route up the side. We dropped our packs (after a little bullying from Emily) and scrambled up to the small peak. Super cool.
Then it was a rocky descent along the ridge, starting to run into more and more dayhikers. The trail wound between massive cliffy towers.
We scrambled up a chain, stepping on rebar loops embedded into the rocks. There were lots of up and downs, very steep. Incredible terrain.
We took a long rest at the bocca then descended past hordes of dayhikers and climbers to reach the very small town of Bavella.
It really became a reality that we were almost finished the GR20, when we saw the sign saying only 7hrs to Conca (the terminus of the GR20). We were not heading to Conca that night, but if we had to, we could have finished the hike that day.
Our friends from previous days, Gabriel and Lena, were at a little snack place, and we headed in and got delicious crepes and coffee. We loafed there for a bit and then ended up walking the final section to the refuge with Gabriel and Lena.
We were actually starting our final decent on the GR20. The trend over the next day and a half would be losing elevation until we arrived in Conca. It was amazing to see the landscape change. At lunch we were up high at 1552m, we would stop for the night at just over 1000m of elevation. Up and down over small ridges, talking the whole way and sharing gear ideas.
We reached the Refuge de Palari 7hrs after starting out. This was right in line with the guide book, but we stopped for lunch on the Bocca de Pargulu, and stopped again in Bavella. Emily was disappointed to discover there was no chocolate for sale. Thunderclouds made themselves known over the rocky buttress beside us. It rumbled ominously as we set up on the cliffside with a view out tot the ocean. Only five hours of hiking left to the finish. An incredible cliff rose beside us, vertical striations eroded into pillars and towers.
Clouds took over the sky. We set up hastily, but it never actually hit us. Instead we lounged by our cliffside view as it thundered distantly.
We saw mouflon (large mountain goatish type animal) just below our campsite. It was the largest wild animal we saw on the trip, very cool!
Gabriel and Lena invited us to sit with some of their French friends for a bit before dinner. They shared sausage and cheese and chatting animatedly in French while we struggled to follow along.
After dinner we read the Kenya book until Gabriel fetched us for the evening entertainment. The refuge gardien put food out for a family of foxes. We sat with the other hikers as the light faded until one of the foxes appeared and furtively grabbed a loaf of bread.
Everyone was quiet for almost an hour and only whispered as foxes showed up one and two at a time. Small and silent when in sight, they made all sorts of weird noises once they disappeared into the bushes. Two boars also came through, loud and clumpy in comparison. As darkness settled in, we headed for bed. Planning on an early morning, to beat the heat that was to come as we descended down to sea level, and to the finish of the GR20.