Saturday, November 7, 2015

Day 2: Castiblanco de Los Arroyos to El Real de la Jara (19 Kms)

Waiting for Bení

Today seemed to have been perfectly organized and then it wasn't. We met Benito at his bar at 8:00, had a quick breakfast and then Benito said he would be driving us up the highway to the entrance to the nature park about 16 Kms away towards Almendén. No problem. Robin and I piled into Benito's suv and bugged out up the highway. Bení chatted away as we rolled up the kilometers. Before long we pulled off the road towards a gate that was manned and more importantly closed. Bení approached and in the ensuing discussion he was told that this gate was closed due to a deer hunting date that was previously scheduled. He was directed to another gate (to the nature park where our Camino path awaited us) 4 Kms further up the road. We arrived at the second gate and it too was manned and closed and we were told that no one would be admitted to the park today as people were in there shooting deer. Apparently in the months of November to January there are a few hunting dates that close the park to everyone else including peregrinos. So for today any pilgrim walking from Castilblanco to Almendén would have to walk the entire distance on the very narrow shoulder of the highway. Not a good option. Back to our situation. We were now closer to Almendén by road then we would have been if we had been allowed into the park to rejoin the Via de la Plata trail. So, thanking Benito for his good efforts we struck out up the highway to Almendén knowing full well that we would now continue walking all the way to El Real de la Jara, another 16 Kms further along. So in truth we wound up walking about 20 Kms total from where Benito dropped us off. Despite the confusing start today's walk was quiet, beautiful and yes, fun. We followed the marked route (quite well marked) through the Sierra Norte Nature Park, from Almendén. There is an option to walk along the road for the last several kilometers, but the route through the park was so nice I don't know why anyone would do that. Admittedly, there are a couple of creeks you have to cross and if they were bank full some might opt for the road. I guess that is the only reason I can think of that brings the road option to life. But I am new to this route, and other more knowledgeable folks might have a more informed opinion. We are presently booked into the private albergue, Alojamiento del Peregrinos. They have a nice roof top terrace where our laundry is now drying and Robin and I are are enjoying a glass of vino Tinto as we catch up on our postings. We are off to Monesterio tomorrow. No hunting season to interfere with our progress (that I know of).

Not much shoulder to walk on
We called in here to cancel our reservation as we were moving on
Navigating through Almendén
Outside of Almendén
Encinas (oak) trees
A couple of hills to climb
The final stretch
Arrival El Real de la Jara


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