10/10/22 – 16/10/22 185 km
I must have woken up a thousand times during the night. Although my reclaimed sun lounger was a godsend, the flickering security light on the disused restaurant and passing traffic were a nightmare! So at 5am we gave up and made our way to Cieza where Armand would catch a train to the coast.
Back on my own, I had two days to get to Moratalla where I would have the chance to see Cristina again. I decided to do the lion’s share today, leaving myself with an easier walk tomorrow. This meant I would pitch the tent next to an embalse (reservoir) to the east of Calasparra. Well, this was the plan…
After the fortieth kilometre of the day I caught my first glances of the turquoise reservoir, it was immense. However, as I got closer I began to hear the rumbling of thunder in the distance. Black clouds were also beginning to envelope the valley. As I continued to drop down to the level of the reservoir the sky darkened further and I could see the rain rebounding off the water.
Then within a split second I heard the loudest crack of thunder I’d ever felt followed by the heavens opening. The path was immediately converted into a flowing torrent. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse the whole sky lit up. The storm was right overhead. I ran as fast as my tired legs could take me to the first of three tunnels cut into the mountainside.
I stripped off my wet clothes and put on my only long sleeve top and raincoat. I’d sent my fleece and rain trousers home on Day 5! Then I waited. The storm got progressively worse. The valley served to amplify the effects and the thunder was deafening. Then suddenly the wind changed direction and the tunnel within which I had sought shelter was experiencing gusts over 80km/h. The rain was coming in sideways. It stung. The torrent was getting deeper. I was vulnerable.
I had no idea what to do so I ran to the second tunnel. Conditions were slightly improved. Then on to the third, again slightly better, but I couldn’t stay here. So I checked how far was left to the nearest town and set off. I worked out that in order to arrive I would have to do another 12km. This would take me to 57km for the day!
I finally arrived in Calasparra as the sun was setting. The rain battered me the whole way. Wet and miserable but at least I was safe. I found the cheapest hotel and began the task of drying my belongings.
Needless to say none of my clothes had dried the next day. To add insult to injury my detergent had exploded and everything in the outside pocket of my bag was covered in the sticky liquid. However, none of this was as bad as having to put on wet shoes! My feet were in a bad way too. I had two new blisters and the top of my right foot had swollen so much I could barely get my shoe on.
On the plus side, after yesterday’s mammoth day I had under 20km left to Moratalla. So I plodded along the rain soaked mud paths until I arrived at our house for the evening. At least they had a washing machine. I needed it!
Another flying visit from Cristina was over before it had started. I left at midday and made my way to Caravaca de la Cruz. It was a national holiday and I saw no one all day. I stopped once to eat lunch on a bench. My feet were in a bad way and I was starting to worry that the damage was more than superficial. So I stopped for the night in a roadside motel and treated my feet as best I could.
When I left on Thursday morning I had 61km left until my next visit from Cristina. Three times in a week! If my feet were better I would have taken a detour to climb Revolcadores, a mountain I had been up twice before, but I was really struggling. So when I stumbled upon a bus shelter in the middle of nowhere at around 18:00 it was a no brainer. I decided to sleep there. I would do the rest the next day.
Although I still struggle to sleep well in the wild, the reward of being outside always makes it worthwhile. This time I was treated to the most remarkable sunset and sunrise! I started walking at 7am and had breakfast in the next village whilst my body warmed up! After over an hour in the bar I made my way to Puebla de Don Fadrique where me and Cristina would stay in an albergue (hostel) for two nights. It was situated in the middle of the polideportivo (sports centre) and our visit coincided with a motorcycle festival.
I found it difficult to leave her again on Sunday morning. We had had another fantastic weekend together and knew this would be our last chance to see each other for some time. Feeling sad I climbed out of the town and back into the mountains. This time I managed to control my emotions. Fortunately after having had a day off the pain in my feet had gone and I was able to complete the day’s mileage without pain.