Stage 2 Route GR131: La Palma, Canaries.

The second leg of our walk across La Palma on European hiking trail GR131.

We were woken up at 10:30pm by loud voices and a torch. It scared the shit out of us. We were miles away from anywhere and there was no one around. Maybe it was the ranger wanting to check our camping permit? Carlos poked his head out of the tent and found two Czech hikers pitching their tent right next to ours. We couldn’t believe it. Carlos told them to move for they were disturbing us, and they did.

That morning we went back to bed after our alarm because at 7:30am we were still in complete darkness. The mountains must have prevented the light from reaching us. When we woke one hour later, the clouds had lifted and it was a beautiful morning. A group of friendly rangers were busy taking care of the place, preparing for day visitors. The place was so clean, it was amazing. We saw the two Czeck guys pack their tent away in the picnic area, a fair way from the actual camping spot. After our breakfast (Nutella and banana wraps) we unintentionally set off at the same time as the grumpy Czech guys. As we were on the same trail and likely to be heading to the same mountain refuge, Carlos apologised for seeming rude the previous evening. They didn’t seem very friendly at all.

The first two hours of our walk was through the clouds and we didn’t really see much apart from the damp ground below us. We had to layer up and put our raincoats on due to the water vapour. Once we reached 1700m we came out of the clouds to a beautiful sunny day. The layers came off and we enjoyed lunch (peanut butter and cheese wrap) overlooking the valley below. It was a beautiful walk to Refugio Punta de los Roques, which was positioned high on a cluster of rocks. It looked out to the volcanic peaks poking out from the clouds underneath.

The hut had solar-powered lights and rainwater which was collected from the roof. It had a large bunk room with two sleeping platforms, one on top of each other, with no divide between sleeping bags. Luckily for us, Carlos and I were the only ones on our platform and it wasn’t overly cold so we could spread out a little. The living area had a few essentials that people had left, like gas, matches and a visitor’s book which I enjoyed reading.

The Czech men arrived 30 minutes behind us. While they got ready for bed, Carlos and I enjoyed a memorable sunset over the mountain peaks and clouds below. Carlos had carried a small bottle of red wine in his pack so we could celebrate my birthday with a drink. We found two wine glasses in the hut – perfect! We enjoyed wine and chocolate overlooking the clouds below and the rocky peaks surrounding us. The view was surreal.

We sat there for a good hour watching the formation of clouds, swirling around below us. They moved in such unique ways, continuously changing direction. The ridge we had just walked along was constantly covered in a blanket of clouds which looked like a waterfall from afar. The air soon became cold once the sun had set. We rugged up and after staring in awe at the stars above us, headed inside to warm up.

That night, the only sound we heard was the Czech men snoring. We were miles away from anywhere. I jumped out of bed as soon as I could see light seeping through the windows. I knew dawn would bring new beauty to the mountains. I went outside for sunrise which was just as spectacular as the sunset the night before.

Unexpectedly, we had to use some of our water purification tablets at El Pilar as the water was not treated. Our research had told us that it was. We had enough tablets to get us through one more day but not two and a half. I got to work boiling the untreated water we had. I would save the remaining tablets for the last day and a half, splitting them in two to make them go further. Apart from the rainwater here, we were pretty confident that we wouldn’t get sick from the tap water.

GR131

The Czech guys didn’t speak to us the entire time we were in the hut, until that morning when they shyly asked whether I could boil some water for them as they didn’t have any purification tablets. I didn’t mind one bit and was more than happy to help. There was spare gas in the hut and I had a stove so I spent the next 30 minutes boiling 1.5 litres for their day ahead. They were stopping after 15km and said 1.5l would be enough. I boiled another 1.5l for us. Carlos said I looked like I was in a meth den with all my gas and glasses which I transferred the water through to cool it down. At 10:30am we were finally ready to set off on the next leg of our hike. Read on in my next post.

Flick x

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