Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pico Huma Hike

We’re well into the new year, the $%&@#!! cast is off my arm, and all is right with the world. I still don’t have full mobility in my left wrist, but it’s getting better day by day. I decided it was time to go on one of the famous Llega Como Puedas hikes. Last Sunday we went down to Pico Huma, in Malaga province. The forecast was 80% probability of rain…or, if you’re optimistic, 20% probability of no rain. We got lucky. There wasn’t a drop of rain all day, but it was obvious that it had been raining heavily not long before. I’d slog up the soggy hillsides until the weight of the mud threatened to pull my shoes off, then scrape it off against a convenient rock or tree. It got a bit tricky to clamber over the rocks with only one good hand, but I managed not to break any more bones. The views were lovely; take a look at the pictures:

It ended up being a much longer than expected day; I started walking to the bus just after 7:00 in the morning, and didn’t get home until 11:30 that night. This was directly caused by the number of new members that we had on the trip. A lot of the new members are youngsters (OK, in their 20’s). This ended up being a good news / bad news situation. Good, in that we get new blood for the club. Bad, in that some of them were over-confident in their abilities. One of them managed to twist her knee as we were approaching the peak, at a point where it would be no easier to turn back than to just continue on to the end. Short of calling in the Guardia Civil, there was nothing she could do but tough it out. And she did. These things happen; it’s nobody’s fault; but it meant that the whole group was moving much slower. A number of us were getting nervous as the day wore on. Nobody wanted to be caught on the mountainside after dark. We made it down about 7:00, just as it was getting truly dark.

That’s when we were caught with the second dilemma. Some of the other 20-somethings had given up on the initial ascent, and returned to the starting point in the Valle de Abdalajís. This meant that the bus had to return there to pick them up. There had been a landslide at some point, and the normal road back was closed. As far as I can tell, the bus driver got lost taking the alternate route. It took us an hour and a half to get there….the straight-line distance was only 15km. And after that was the two-hour ride to Córdoba. And after that was the mile walk from the bus stop back home. Quite a day.

Whenever you get a group of “n” Spanish people together, and a decision must be made, you’ll get “n” different opinions….each of them being shouted loudly. Since the hikes are generally cross-country, there are decision points for the route. This bothered me on the first excursion or two, but I soon reached the conclusion that you just wait for the ruteros (the route leaders) to reach a decision, and then the group would continue on. Of course, I often wondered what would happen if they couldn’t reach an agreement. Would the group split? Surely such a thing would never happen. Well….this time, it happened. I was faced with the nasty decision of which group to follow. There had been no rain during the day, but there was a danger that it could start at any time. I think that parts of the route would have simply been impossible with rain falling. I finally followed the group with more people, figuring that if we were going to have to be rescued by emergency crews, that was the better place to be. It all came out fine; the groups re-joined at the bottom of the mountain after an hour. That was the sort of adventure that I’d happily do without.

As I look back over what I’ve written, it sounds as if I am complaining. I’m really not. It was a good, strenuous hike with beautiful views. I had a really good time….seasoned with a few more adventures than I’d expected. Just another Spanish experience.

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