Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Picos de Europa: Indeed a highlight

I had expected Picos de Europa to be a highlight and it was!  Even though the park is named after the peaks, the most popular and loved trail is the Ruta de Cares gorge walk.  John likes walks with sweeping vistas; I like walking by moving water.  Gorge walks are just about my favorites.  This one had to be the best of all.  

We based ourselves in Las Arenas de Cabrales, which is 6km by road to the start of the trail in Poncebos.  From Poncebos in Asturias, you walk 12km through the gorge to Cain, Leon.  During July and August, there are all kinds of transportation to do the trail every which way.  Of the options available to us, we chose to hitchhike to (and back from) Poncebos over taxi.  Of course, we had planned to walk back to Poncebos (not hitchhiking 100km) from Cain, Leon.  

Knowing everything I know now, walking the trail round trip is definitely the way to do it.  The gorge was SO beautiful; there are water canals and goats to watch along the way; the trail switch sides a couple time, so you get to walk on bridges over the gorge; there is a long tunnel cut in the side of the cliff....  How can one resist walking back?!  In fact, it is preferable to walk slowly as to maximize the time in the gorge.  It is probably easier to start in Cain, skipping the hilly 2km at the Poncebos end.  However, starting in Poncebos, the trail is increasingly interesting since the bridges and tunnels are all on the Cain end.

The rest of time in Arenas, we went on a short hike to have some views to the peaks and a longer one along the supposedly Roman road to some high pastures with vistas across the valley.

Main drag in Las Arenas.
Picos de Europa - Las Arenas, Spain

Our first afternoon we take a short walk through working farmland: dairy cows, sheep, and goats; with some great views back to Las Arenas and up to the Picos themselves.



Video link here if you can't play the embedded video.

Picos de Europa National Park - near Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa - Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa - Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa - Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa - Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa - Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa National Park - Northern, Spain

Picos de Europa National Park - near Las Arenas, Spain

The second day we walk the The Ruta del Cares: 24 kms from Poncebos to Cain and back. Wow!
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Picos de Europa National Park - Northern, Spain

I'm standing on the trail at right.
Picos de Europa National Park - Northern, Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

The water channel that runs along the trail.
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Halfway.
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Walking just below the water channel.
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Sharing the trail with goats.
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

The water channel becomes a pool a one point.
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Always narrow, the gorge becomes even more narrow as we near Cain,and there is a series of bridges that take you from side to side. You can almost reach out and touch the other side.
Picos de Europa National Park - Northern, Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

And a very cool tunnel (with windows).
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

And we reach Cain.
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Then head back to Poncebos.
Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Ruta del Cares - Poncebos to Cain to Poncebos - Spain

Picos de Europa National Park - Northern, Spain

Day Three: The Ruta de Caoru where we walk 1000 meters up and are above the clouds; hang out with horses and cows in high summer pastures; then come down....The start of the Ruta, just a few hundred meters from our hotel.
Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

In the first gentle kilometers there are many old, rugged chestnut trees...
Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa National Park - near Las Arenas, Spain

...and we see our companion from the previous day; the water channel.
Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Part of this ruta claims to be old Roman road.
Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

We stop for lunch and see clouds slipping into the far valley. That's Las Arenas, where we started, below.
Picos de Europa National Park - near Las Arenas, Spain

The uphill is relentless and the trail, PR-127, is well marked.
Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Picos de Europa National Park - Northern, Spain

Almost 1000 meters (3300 feet) gained as we reach the high summer pastures. I was surprised to see cows and horses hanging out together; that is, groups of cows and groups of horses in the same pastures.

Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Horses at the watering hotel where minutes before there were cows. Oh, and no humans besides us in sight. Lots of cowbells though. ;-)
Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

We take a break at the upper pastures before heading down. See Sun-Ling at far left.
Picos de Europa National Park - near Las Arenas, Spain

Flowers.
Picos de Europa National Park - Northern, Spain

Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

Ruta de Caoru - Picos de Europe - near Las Arenas, Spain

And lastly, a shot from the bus window as we leave the Picos for the northern coast, just 15 kms away as the crow flies.
Picos de Europa National Park - near Las Arenas, Spain
















4 comments:

DayleInNC said...

¡QuĂ© hermosos los Picos de Europa! And oh, la, la -- some impressive hiking, 24kms and 1000m ascents. I've just looked up la Ruta del Cares and found what I'm sure will be no surprise to you, that it "is one of the most breathtaking trekking trails that can be done in Europe." Your photos are magnificent.

Sun-Ling said...

@Dayle, I knew it was "one of the most breathtaking trekking trails that can be done in Europe" before we went and agree after! Of course, we have only hiked in obscure places in Europe. On the bus from Santiago to Oviedo we could see Picos. In the Oviedo bus station, this couple asked whether we were hiking the Camino and knew how to get on it in Oviedo. They had finished from Sevilla 12 days earlier, so took the bus to Oviedo to Camino again. Even though we helped them by looking up the route on the phone, on the inside I wanted to scream at them -- go walk in Picos instead!

WQZ said...

I wonder if your trek shared any part with Camino Premitivo?

Sun-Ling said...

@WQZ, Camino Premitivo starts from Oviedo, I think. Picos are to the east of Oviedo. There are more different Caminos than I can count. When you are on it, it is very obvious because of the yellow signs pointing the way. We didn't run into any of them while in Picos.