For my second go at this ‘running’ lark my choice of run and partner may seem even stranger. This time I picked a guy whose idea of fun is to do 100 mile races!!
And my choice of run was pretty spectacular too. For a long time I had wanted to climb the huge gully that went up from the village of Sobrevilla and which passed a number of massive crags that I wanted to have a look at. So my reasoning was more about checking out future rock routes than ‘running’ (and I also figured that I’d be able to leverage plenty of rest by stopping to admire the rock).
As we set off the hill seemed huge, and I’d chosen to wear my mountain boots which, although very light for boots were about 500gms each. I was figuring on protecting my bad ankle (and I know better now) but that meant each stride was lass energy efficient and by 10 minutes in I was panting!!
The mist rolled in as we ascended leaving an eerie sensation and a slight feeling of being lost as we crossed a steep, blocky, rocky section only to emerge above the fog into the gully proper.
The gully was steep, very, very steep and progress wasn’t quick. Steep, with no path and small heathery clumps it wasn’t easy going but I was enjoying it and Ian said that at this level of steepness even world class runners wouldn’t run (which I was pleased about).
As we slowly scaled the metres the views became more and more spectacular and although we weren’t going quickly Ian was quite happy to go at my pace. For me I was starting to understand a bit more that the world of trail running often didn’t involve ‘running’ but ascending as fast as one can. And i could get that…
And the close up views of the crags were as spectacular as I had wanted and my plan of stopping to check out the climbing lines was working to perfection.
There were some very big pieces of rock and we passed right underneath them. It was fun and the ‘rock-watching’ broke up the severity of the climbing. Nearing the top we had to decide on an exit – left or right. Left seemed easier but longer and right seemed more direct but with a ‘step’ that might prove tricky – it was obvious that we’d have to climb it but could we get the dog up there??
The step was a few metres of wet limestone but starting from a ledge so the consequences of a slip were not worth contemplating. Ian went first and made it easily and I, a bit more reluctantly, grabbed a slightly scared dog by the collar and shuffled along the small ledge. I proceeded to shove the dog upwards as my feet scrabbled and I grabbed onto loose turf with my free hand. After a minute or so of struggle she was high enough up for Ian to grab her collar and I, mightily relieved was able to gain the firmer ‘terra firma’ above the drop.
As we gained the ridge we started to traverse up towards the high point of Pico Siella. But first we passed a viewpoint that was irresistible, a gap in the rocks opened out with a small spiky summit and we both ascended to get the photo…
We arrived at Pico Siella soon after and at 1550m it afforded incredible views of the valley and was well deserved of being the high point of our journey (twice as it turned out). We’d ascended over 800m (2400ft) already and although it hadn’t been quick it hadn’t been ridiculously slow either which I took some pride in. So we stopped briefly, set up a selfie with my camera balanced on the trig point, and got the all important summit shot.
Finally, the real running started and Ian, showing lot of agility, started out across a thin ridge which led slowly down to a more defined path than we’d been following. This was fun and after about a kilometre of me stomping in my big boots after the much more rapid Ian we met up at a small resevoir/lake at the coll before the big descent started.
‘Hold there Ian’ I shouted as I fumbled for the camera to get another shot of the run…But I couldn’t find it!
‘Arse’ I cried, ‘Ian, I seem to have lost the camera’ and it wasn’t a cheap one! About £300′s worth of Panasonic seemed to have gone missing during our descent – my pack had been open and the probability was that it had bounced out during our decent. That was the probability but it seemed odd as my small pack was actually quite deep, so with heavy hearts (especially mine) we set up back towards Pico Siella scouring the path either side. I walked a lot more slowly than Ian and it was he rather than me that made it back to the summit and found, still stood in selfie position, the camera! I’d simply left it on the summit.
We descended again and this time didn’t stop at the lake and headed on down the very steep switchbacks on a concrete farmers track which led directly up to the coll. With a ‘I’m going to go a bit quicker on this bit’ Ian blasted off. Once again his agility and speed left me standing and I kept up as best as I could as we descended about 400m in around 2km. Once again i was happy that I vaguely kept up but my big boots certainly didn’t aid me much.
We met up at the bottom and started to descend, less steeply, a series of muddy tracks back towards the car. Unfortunately (for Ian) we picked up a couple of ‘passengers’ on the way in the shape of two beautiful mastin puppies who followed us for about a kilometer downhill. However, when we realised the wouldn’t go ‘home’ I volunteered the more experienced runner for the duty of leading them back to the field we’d first seen them in.
I chuckled to myself plodded on downwards, tiring, and expecting to see Ian on my shoulder quite quickly. However, I’d made it a lot further than I thought I would and when Ian did catch me he was out of breath ‘Man that was grim’ he said ‘ that track I took up was muddy as hell and it was longer than I thought. I grinned and said something about ‘good training mate’ and we finally exited the muddy forest track onto a tarmac’d road and I knew that the car was just around the corner.
The coffee and cake we enjoyed at the bar in town tasty scrummy and as well looked back up to where we’d been I felt pretty proud that I’d done it. And even Ian felt i’d done pretty well – especially for a climber that didn’t like hiking or running. This was a superb and fun route to do and well recommendable (maybe minus the ‘step’) and you can see the route on Ian’s Strava below…