Ponferrada – Trabadelo
21.73 | 387.92 miles
+3,014 | -2,944 feet
Another long but beautiful day. We were back in wine country, and the mountains were lovely with the early morning fog.
I opted to take the direct route into Villafranca because it was a bit shorter, and I wanted to take the scenic route after Villafranca to Trabelo. Villafranca was very picturesque , nestled in an alpine valley with the mountains behind.
The main route follows the highway and is just less than 10K, with very little elevation change. The scenic route climbs Alto Pradela at 930 meters and is about 10 1/2 kilometers in length. The guidebook notes how pretty it is but that locals discourage it.
I experienced just that when I was at the option point. A woman stood in her doorway and pointed to the direct way. I pointed up towards the mountain. She began to speak loudly to me in Spanish (which I didn’t understand) and then muttered to herself as she went back into her house and closed the door. Not to be dissuaded, I followed the path up the mountain. It was very steep.
About a mile up, I passed a guy with a machete – that was a little disquieting! Later, as I was taking a picture, I looked down at could see, that though he was aways back, he was now climbing back up. He was swatting to plant with the machete, which didn’t seem like something a serial killer would do. I wasn’t truly worried, but it was later in the day and not many people were on this alternate route. Another mile or so, I passed a parked government truck, which was probably his. It’s great that the province municipalities maintain the Camino, but it’s still not my favorite to meet a guy with a machete!
The views at the top were really amazing and worth the hike up.
I could see the highway far down below where the main trail went, and it didn’t look very enjoyable.
The two-mile descent was challenging, but not as difficult as some. I didn’t really think about regretting my decision until the last, steep mile, when I was out of water, and it was very hot. However, I made it to the albergue without incident. I must have looked like I was going to collapse because the owner told me just to sit while he checked me in. Later, as I was unpacking my bag, he asked me if he should be concerned. I said, “Thank you, but I’m fine. I just needed to sit, have something to drink and take a shower – and then I’ll be great.” I’m still tired (over 45,000 steps today plus the elevation change), but I feel much better as I sit on their shaded patio with my clothes drying in the sun before a delicious dinner.
I arrive in Santiago de Compostela a week from today. t’s hard to believe.