Monday, December 22, 2008


This week’s expedition with Llega Como Puedas was an ascent of Lobatejo, the second-highest peak in Córdoba province. Of course, that´s not saying much; the highest peak, La Tiñosa, is less than 5,000 feet in altitude. Take a look at the pictures at:

Lobatejo is in the Subbética, a natural park (not to be confused with a national park). We left from the pueblo of Zuheros, only about an hour´s bus ride from Córdoba. Zuheros has a neat-looking castle which I´d have liked to explore, but that wasn´t in the agenda.

Despite the fact that we´re near the end of December, the weather was spectacular. I´d brought my heavy jacket, and I really needed it for about the first forty-five minutes of the hike. After that, I was just carrying it around. I´d also brought my poncho, which is undoubtedly the reason that we didn´t have any rain.

There were a lot of sheep grazing the meadows of Lobatejo. Spanish-speaking sheep, of course, who say “be-e-e” instead of “baa.” It´s very interesting hearing the local animal dialects. For instance, cats say “miau” instead of “meow,” dogs say “huau-huau”, and roosters say “qui-qui-qui-qui-ri.” I never thought “cock-a-doodle-doo” made much sense anyway.

The walk was a very enjoyable mixture of trails, cross-country walking, rock clambering, and beating through undergrowth. The official distance was 23 kilometers. Even so, it took a good eight hours. The cross-country parts really slow you down. It also underscored the downside of charting a route using GPS. GPS will tell you that if you go down the slope in this direction and follow that little valley, you´ll hook up with the dirt road. It won´t tell you if the slope is covered with loose shifting rock, or if the valley is choked with spiny bushes, or if there´s no opening in the farmers´ wire fence. But nothing stopped our intrepid group.

There were some rather nasty stretches of slippery mud. At least once, my walking stick saved me from taking a fall; I´m becoming a real believer. One of my friends wasn´t so lucky. He slipped in the mud and landed hard on his left arm. He may have broken his wrist. This was the first time I´d seen the Llega Como Puedas rapid-response team in action. I hadn´t realized it, but the group had a designated nurse. She efficiently examined the wrist, cleaned it up, wrapped it in an Ace bandage, and put the arm in a sling. I hope to never have to make use of the service.

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