Well first night hanging out....
Bit of a long report, but enjoyed writing it!!! Hope it don't bore anyone...
If yer just interested in pictures, you can just look at the album...
I got to the train station and went to the water fountain. For a night and a day, I would need to carry about 4 litres up a rock face, and it would take me about an hour. I knew there were no fountains or streams where I was going, so 4 litres was about right. But GAWD, it was HEAVY!
Just as the place I had spotted the other week came into sight (around 5pm) I began to feel rain. Being hot and sweaty from the climb it was relatively welcome, but I still didn’t want to get wet…once I got to the spot I knew I had no time to experiment, as intended, I would have to set up fast.
I quickly put the tarp up in diamond pitch, it was easier and I only had enough tie outs for diamond pitch. It was a decision I would later come to regret! It was not protected enough from the wind and rain and it was also too long - the ends were touching the trees and so my hammock suspension was affecting its pitch (see pictures)- but not knowing enough about these things, I let it be...
I got everything hooked up and the rain wasn't that strong. I was dry but surprised to see that the occasional droplet was making it's way all the way to the hammock. That stray droplet didn't mean much to me then, but since it gave me a bad feeling, I tied the tarp down further at that end with another peg, and tried to make the inclination of the tarp steeper. I collected the branches I had hacked off from the undergrowth while setting up and tried to thatch a basic windbreak on that side.
You can almost see the windbreak on the left...
Since it was raining, dark and windy, I had eaten by 6pm and had got snug into the hammock to sleep. I thought I would just wake up early to compensate. I felt cold underneath and realized that the hammock had lowered a little. The bottom was touching a plant and just grazing a rock. I cut the plant and let it be. I didn’t want to brave that rain out the tarp.
But at about 9pm the rain started in very heavy. I got nervous about that wandering droplet so I checked the setup - the rain was falling heavy, but thankfully, straight down. I fell asleep again.
At 11.30pm something woke me, it was the tarp being flung around by the wind, amazingly the peg I had stuck in the ground held, but the wind was tremendous! I was amazed that the thing could still hold and fell asleep again.
Then, about midnight, all hell broke loose. The rain was extremely heavy and the wind was howling. The extra peg came off on the windbreaking side and that opening through which that wandering droplet was making its way through, now gave passage to a continuous fine spray which could have soaked me through in an hour. Just when I realized how bad that was, a small river broke out and came pouring over the rock that my UQ was touching - desperate measures had to be taken!
I got out the hammock and took off the UQ. I put everything I had with me into the hammock. I tightened up the hammock off the floor and thought to myself – I should have done this sooner.
Since the peg wouldn't hold on the wet ground on the windbreaking side, I tied the guy line to my water bottle and wedged a large stone onto it, it seemed to work, but only a little. I tried to close the end with my basic rain coat, a pointless move, something that ended up just soaking my raincoat and making it unusable. Thank god for that thatched windbreak, I thought, it was doing it's job, but even with the lowered tarp, still a little extra was needed and I couldn't think of anything else. Since I didn’t have any extra cord, I grabbed the waterproof pack cover and held it in place with my hands over that last hole.
I was amazed to see that it started snowing!! The wind was really going for it. I was shivering, the temperature had plummeted to about 20 F - standing there… holding this pack cover over the end and thinking about what I could do. If this held out all night then by the morning I'd be in pretty bad shape.
Some of the leftover snow
There was no way back down to the nearest town. It was steep and rocky. With this wind it was just asking for an accident. I would just have to brave it out and when I felt myself getting hypothermic, I would call for help.
This kind of weather in Spain is very rare - many people have never seen snow over here, so in a way I was glad to be out IN IT. If I was going to wait until I was hypothermic, I would at least have a decent time…I started singing at the top of my voice.
Froggie went a courting and he did ride, uh-huh.
Froggie went a courting and he did ride, uh-huh
Froggie went a courting and he did ride, uh-huh
Froggie went a courting and he did ride,
With a sword and pistol by his side, uh-huh.
I felt mad.
Then, as I was singing and shivering, whack! A large branch from my wind shelter came loose and smacked me on the head. A good ole thump. Threw me back onto my ***. But...voila! I was astounded to see that the branch, after bounching off my noodle, had landed in the perfect place, lowering the tarp and stopping the spray, hurrah!
To celebrate, I collected some rainwater from a drip point on the tarp and put on a brew with my homemade imitation mini atomic (that worked fine in those conditions). If I knew it was going to rain this much I could have collected all the water I would have needed for a week! Once I had some hot tea in me I knew that I was going to be comfy, dry and warm. The tea was done and I was catching a chill so I crawled in the hammock to get some shut eye.
By 1 am, the wind had died, and it was absolutely calm. The rain kept falling, but it was just eerie how the wind had stopped dead. To my surprise, half an hour later, the rain stopped as well and it was very silent. Eerie, beautiful and brutal is how I'd describe that night in three words - that or, "diamond pitch, bad".
The beginners messy set up
As you can see, the suspensions and the tarp and just all over each other...
BUT - I had made it through on of the worst nights Spain could muster. Considering I had made a quite a few vital errors and was still warm and dry I have to say the hammock did great!
The next day I got up early to see the sunrise. It was clear and calm – beautiful. The view from camp:
I walked and came across a large quarry and realized just how rocky this mountain was. It was effectively a super-huge chunk of ragged rock.
I paused for a while and looked around and saw rosemary and thyme everywhere, after this rain it smelled just amazing. They both grow just everywhere...
I looked over at some pines and saw what I thought was a birds nest. I got closer and saw a bunch of worms crawling inside – must of taken over, I thought. I saw a larger one and got closer and saw that in fact it was a worm nest! There were hundreds and hundreds packed into this silk ball hanging off this pine. It seemed almost orgiastic!!
I couldn’t resist and took a branch and tapped the nest. Some worms secreted this clear yellow liquid, a lot like piss, but thicker. And the whole nest starting writhing, it was quite disgusting really, but strangely fascinating.
I would later stumble across two wild boars, but I couldn’t get the camera out in time ☹
Then I made it to the coast…washed my feet in the sand, ordered a beer and relaxed…
Well, if you made it this far...