Beautiful and Treacherous Cap de Creus, part 2
I have really enjoyed my day so far. I got to sleep in, then spent a few hours on the first portion of the hike in Cap de Creus national park taking in marvelous scenery and enjoying the sunny weather.
It is now about 3:45 in the afternoon and I have almost made it to Cadaqués on the other end of the hike. The earliest bus going back to Empuriabrava is at 6:15 so I am thinking about slowing down a bit - after all, what am I going to do in Cadaqués for an hour if I get there early?
Or so I thought when I got to Cala Montjoi. While walking on the beach, I saw this sign post:
Essentially, what it is saying is that the portion of the hike I just spent four hours on is only supposed to take 2 hours 45 minutes AND I still have 3 hours 40 minutes to go to reach Cadaqués.
By itself, it isn't such a big deal. I could sure keep on going for another four hours. But now, looking at the bus schedule, I realize that the 6:15 bus (leaving in two and a half hours) is the ONLY bus from Cadaqués. And out of three liters of water I brought with me, I have less than half a litter left. No more food either. So I better get going.
This is going to be fun! Not...
Still, nothing I can do about it but to start walking briskly. Here, the trail merges with the road, so it is a bit easier to walk. However, as soon as I turn around the corner, I get hit by strong gusts of cold wind. What happened to the sun?
I put the tshirt back on and roll my sweat pants down. But it helps little with this wind. Almost running, I get off the road and join the trail again to pass my last beach and start an almost straight uphill climb. Here, at the top, a side trail to Cap de Norfeu is no longer an option.
Almost running up the "stairs", I am cold, tired, and exhausted. I have to limit myself to just a little bit of water. At this point, I have essentially just a can of water left to last me for about three hours. But at least the views of Punta de la Ferrera are amazing from up here.
But I have to keep going. I bid farewell to the coastline as the last portion of the hike goes inland.
The trail gets confusing here. The markings are very few and in-between. The map does not help. Thankfully, CityMaps2Go on the iPhone still has my back and I figure it out more or less. I no longer listen to podcasts. I have my Pump mix going to, well, keep me going.
I am going up and down hills, passing creeks, and watching the weather. Just a couple hours ago, I was wondering if I should of worn swim shorts and flip flops. Now I could really use a hoodie. At least, I have good shoes on as I have already misstepped a couple of times but they did a good job supporting my ankle. I have forgotten when was the last time I saw people on this trail - the last thing I need now is a twisted ankle to take me out.
I am back at sea level now (really? after all this up-and-down?). It is a little cove with a few nice houses that seem deserted. I pass a couple of hikers resting on the beach and can't help but wonder how they have the time? I am guessing they will be staying in Cadaqués tonight.
I pretty much giving up on catching the 18:15 bus back now. I wonder if they have taxis in Cadaqués? From the map, it seems like a really small town. So I will probably have to stay a night. Darn it - I should have brought my Spanish phrasebook.
Oh well, I am sure I could figure it out when I get there.
If I get there... the weather is starting to look bad ahead of me. It is getting dark over the mountains. I cannot tell if it is raining there but I do not have many options. It does not seem like I could hitch a ride from here - it seems pretty dead. Hiking all the way back to Roses will take me another four hours. I could probably make it by darkness, but I only have a few sips of water left.
I contemplate all of this as I pass the buildings and start heading uphill again. This one is going to be a bear - steeply gaining about 300 meters (1000 feet).
At least the "road" is interesting. It kind of looks like a medieval cobble stone street, surrounded by small stone fences, but with most of cobble stone washed away by the water. Or maybe it is a river bed?
And what is it? Do I feel the rain drops?
It sure is! Well, maybe it will just be a few drops. It is windy here and pretty cold without the sun. I am shivering as it is. The last thing I need now is to get wet with at least an hour and a half to go.
But no. The skies are opening up and just a few drops soon turn into a heavy rain. I hurry to throw my camera and my iPhone inside the the only plastic bag I have, together with the trash from my lunch. Normally, I try to pack a few zip lock bags just for this - storing my electronics in case it starts to rain, but, of course, I forgot to grab them today. Oh well, my iPhone is going to smell like salami, so what?
With electronics tucked away, I keep moving. It is miserable. I am cold and wet now, the rain drops feel like small ice picks carried by the strong wind and thrown at me without the end in sight.
I am starting to think how nice it would be to have a cup of hot tea right now. And a warm bath. And something to eat. Heck, a hoodie would of been really nice!
I can no longer feel my face. My hands are going numb in my pockets. I put my little WDS daypack in front of me to give me at least a little protection from the wind and hide my hands behind it, under my tshirt but to no avail. And I keep going.
I cannot take it any longer, so I squat behind a bush to get at least some protection from the rain. Leaning over my pack, I try to pull out my iPhone to see how much longer I have to go. Even simple things like entering my pin code on the lock screen are now almost impossible with numb wet fingers. I sip out the last drops of my water.
My mind starts to wonder. Maybe if I just stay here behind the bush. Lay down and curl up, it would be so nice...
But in the back of my mind I know I have to keep going so I force myself to get up and keep moving into the rain and howling wind.
I am starting to think about hypothermia. It is really worrying me now. Somehow, the images from the Bravo Two Zero are popping into my mind, specifically how the SAS squadron was trekking through Iraqi desert in blistering ice and snow conditions when they were expecting (and were dressed for) the warm nights. Seems that I can relate to that now.
But I keep on going. Uphill. Cold. Thirsty. Hungry. Rain and wind keep hammering me. I no longer care about the bus or if I have to spend the night in Cadaqués.
Hell, I just want to get to Cadaqués! I just want to get away from this weather!
My thoughts turn back to that warm tea and a bath. I am definitely getting one once I get back to Empuriabrava. I don't care that I am too big for any bathtub. I'll make it work. I just need to get there...
I am also starting to think why the hell am I doing this? Why can't I be just another tourist? On a bus. Being taken around. "Here's Roses. Here's Cadaqués. Take a picture here. Look at those hill of Cap de Creus over there. Ok, back on the bus! Here's your tea and cookies."
Oh, tea and cookies!.. I would give anything for some hot tea right now!
Finally, as I get to the top of the hill, the rain subsides and the wind dies down. There is still no sun and I am shivering, but at least it isn't raining!
It's the little things in life.
Here the trail joins a dirt road and it looks like it is all (very gradually) downhill from now on, thank god!
Soon, walking around another corner, I finally get a glimpse of Cadaqués!
I am happy, but it still seems to be so far away!
Walking further down the road, I notice bushes of wild blackberries. I hope they are blackberries as I frantically start picking the few small berries and stuff them into my mouth - food!
My hands are still numb so I barely feel the thorns from the bushes as I pick the life-saving goodies. I did not even realize I was that hungry! I keep walking down the road eyeing each bush to see if there are some berries left and grab whatever I can reach.
It is definitely a much needed carb infusion. I get a little sugar rush to keep going. And I must. I could stay here for a while and just eat the berries, but now I have a glimpse of hope that I will make it to Cadaqués in time to catch the bus!
It is still quite a ways to go but I am feeling so much better now. The wind almost died down. I have the headphones out again, listening to some music and briskly walking along.
I am still half-hallucinating about some hot tea and chocolate croissants, but I can almost taste them. The last part downhill flies by pretty quick as I start running down and jumping from boulder to boulder, passing some olive gardens on the way.
And I make it! With over half an hour to spare before my bus so I decide to walk around the town for a bit.
It certainly is much bigger than I imagined it to be, and quite nice to stroll around. There is a sunset cruise boarding at the port and plenty of tourists walking around the streets.
Soon, I stumble upon a bakery and gladly part with some of my money for a piece of pizza, a chocolate croissant, and some juice. Needless to say, at this point, they taste like the best pizza, croissant and juice I have ever had!
Finally, I make it over to the bus stop, buy my ticket back to Empuriabrava, kick my shoes off and lay down on the cold concrete bench that seems just as nice as any bed in the world right now.
Curiously, I see one of the tourist "trains" parked at the bus station and smile remembering my pondering earlier about why not just go the "easy" way.
No, that is not my me. Give me some hiking, some rain, some challenge! I want to do my own thing. I want to test myself!
What does not kill you, makes you stronger.
Otherwise, why leave the cubicle in the first place?