Week 2: Mi Vuelta a España

05/09/22 – 11/09/22 245km

After dragging myself out of bed I managed to hobble my way to the Correos (Post Office). The first four days had taught me that if I was going to complete this walk I would have to simplify my approach. So I posted anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary home. I managed to shave 2kg off the total pack weight.

Next I went to the pharmacy and stocked up on compeed and plasters. I had only walked 137km, yet I already had six blisters. One of which had turned purple. I then carried out vital blister treatment. My approach is best described as medieval.

I still don’t know how I managed to sling my pack on that morning and set off. But I did. Each step sending shooting pains through my entire body. Eventually, after what felt like an age, I arrived at Palamós and I was back on the coastal path. The joy was so great I collapsed on the grass under a tree. When I came to, I ate lunch. 

I knew I couldn’t go further that day so I booked myself into a campsite and restarted the blister treatment process. I had done 19km. It felt like a thousand.

On awakening the next day I remembered that I had packed a thinner pair of socks before setting off. What an idiot, I could have been using these since the start! So I carefully wrapped my toes and forced my feet into my Hoka shoes. The pain was still immense but I could tell immediately that the socks would make a big difference. I set off.

Due to the shape of the coastline I was back into the hills and the heat was unforgiving. I was in the mountains for five hours and running low on water. I was taking two sips every kilometre but inevitably I ran out. 

Eventually after walking the final 4k without a drop of water I arrived in Tossa del Mar, where I immediately purchased five litres of water. I drank two, filled up my bottles and mixed the final litre with electrolytes. The path then took me along the coastline to Lloret de Mar where I decided to stay in a Hostel. I would not recommend it and I certainly won’t be going back!

Day 7 saw me heading back into the hills and what would be the hardest part of the walk so far. My right foot was improving but the blisters on my left were still incredibly painful. That said, I had a clear plan. I would follow the coastal path to Blanes cut inland to Tordera where I would stock up for two days in the hills. I had planned to sleep in the hammock before reaching Vallgorguina. I left Tordera around midday and I had already clocked up 18km. 

So, I set off into the hills, bottles full and carrying an extra litre in my hand. I had seen that there was drinking water available in the courtyard of a small rural school about half way. This time I rationed my water perfectly and ran out just as I arrived. After a brief pit stop I headed off to find a place to hang my hammock. 

Now I know this will sound ridiculous as I was walking through a forest but there was simply nowhere to put the thing. The trail had steep escarpments on each side and any attempt to leave the path would have resulted in my falling at least 100 feet! In addition to this any clearing had already been claimed by farmers and their pack of rabid dogs.

So on I walked, what else could I do? Night was drawing in and I was well over 40km for the day. I was almost in the village by this point. There were no hotels and I was too scared to pitch the tent in the trees. A feeling that had been exacerbated by the fox flanking me on the path running parallel above my left shoulder. 

So I asked my friend Armand what he would do in this situation? He advised me to find a bench and put my head down for a few hours. It was dusk when I arrived in the village and fortunately I happened upon a clearing with four benches. I pulled out my bivvy bag and slipped inside. After clocking 48km I was too tired to care! I managed to fall asleep but was woken every 15 minutes by the chime of the church bell! At 3am when I awoke I was shaking due to the cold. I got inside my sleeping bag where I slept through to my alarm at 6am. 

My bag was packed before sunrise and after a trip to the village tap I was making my way back into the hills. The cold night air had soaked my gear. Then when I stopped to eat I discovered that my bag was infested with ants. I needed to sort out my kit so I booked myself into the nearest hostel. The path there was horrific. Akin to trying to walk down the ski jump at the Winter Olympics. I fell three times. But it was worth it, the satisfaction of cleaning my bag and kit for the first time since setting off was fantastic!

I set my alarm for 6am the next day and I was on the road within an hour. When it is this hot, the mornings are the best time to be walking. I marched 33km to Badalona, an eastern suburb of Barcelona. The path followed the floodplain of the River Besós for over 25km as I contoured around the base of the hill. I was back on track.

I spent the evening talking to fellow travellers in the hostel and as they all left to party I made the most of the quiet and had an early night. Up at 7am, the kitchen was closed so I made my way into the city. The euphoria of walking into Barcelona was indescribable. I couldn’t believe that only 9 days ago I was setting off from the French border. 

I was last in Barcelona 8 years ago during a motorcycle tour of the north and I was looking forward to seeing La Sagrada Familia again. It didn’t disappoint. After soaking in the atmosphere I decided to embark upon a hiking tour of Barcelona culminating in a trip to the Camp Nou. Time flew by as I was entertained by the mixture of awe-inspiring architecture. I was also enjoying people watching for the first time in days!

Unfortunately it could not last forever. I left Barcelona through an impoverished industrial suburb where I made my way back to the coast and another camp site. I pitched the tent, made dinner and then put my head down for an early night. All was going well until around 4am when I was woken by the drunks returning from a fiesta. 

I managed to get back to sleep until suddenly I was awoken for a second time by an almighty noise and someone shouting “Security!”. I stumbled out of my tent to find a young woman stark naked fighting with her boyfriend as he drunkenly tried to cycle home to Barcelona. I am supposed to say now that I didn’t know where to look, but I want this blog to be an accurate account of my trip! I wonder if he ever did manage to get home?

The next day I slept in. I was 80km from Tarragona and determined to make it in two days. The walk started pleasantly as I made my way along the promenade at Castelldefels, entertained by the assortment of people carrying out their morning exercise routines. Eventually the path ran out and I turned into the hills climbing 300m through a disused mine. It was hot and humid and I was dripping from head to toe. I also had my first encounter of a snake. No matter how many I see I always scream!

Not wanting to climb anymore I decided to follow a cycle path for the last 5km into Sitges. All was going well until it chucked me onto the main road with over two kilometres left to go. It was one of those winding mountain roads full of hairpin bends with absolutely no hard shoulder to speak off. I was stuck. I could not bear the thought of going back so I ran! It’s not easy doing an impromptu run with a full walking pack but needs must.

The narrow streets of the old town in Sitges were a tourist’s dream, however all of the shops were closed. Today was a national holiday in Catalunya. For those of you who know Spain, this was bad news! So fuelled with nothing but a chocolate bar, I carried on. And on…

I walked 50km that day until I eventually found a campsite with a vacant pitch. Wild camping was out of the question due to the heavily urbanised nature of this area. I forced myself to shower and wash my clothes. The soles of my feet felt as if someone had trapped them in a vice. 

With 30km to go, would I make it to Tarragona tomorrow?

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