At six in the morning it's still dark outside. So dark that I can't understand if it rains or not.
Still, in the sky are some stars which means it's not raining. Like we agreed with Samantha last night, I self-serve myself some cereals with milk.
Driving in thick mist that rises from everywhere. From surrounding dark shapes one can guess the existance of trees and mountains. Covadonga turns out to be a real tourist destination. First in the village before Covadonga there is a zoo. And an immense system of parking lots. In busier times visitors are not allowed up with their cars. So early luckily no-one is watching and I drive until lake Ercina. Road rises above mist and views appear.
The lakes should be about 1000 meters above sea level or a bit more. John said that here will be snow and the trail is not visible and therefore difficult to walk. But today there's not much snow left, some patches here and there. Lake Ercina is a rather small pond, surrounded with high snow-capped rocks. Way-marks are red and white instead or blue and yellow. Birds chirp, otherwise it's quiet. The trail makes a circle around a mountain from one lake to the other. The other lake is called Enol. Total about 4 km. Short but the longer trails that start from here are definitely not snow-free yet. And the lakes are worth looking at.
Sun rises racing with clouds and peeks through with varying success. Grass cut by the lambs and fresh chilly air make me feel like climbing out of the tent early morning somewhere in Ladakh or Kyrgyzstan - hope for a warmer day.
The trail forks to a viewpoint, mirador del rey. From the viewpoint bare forest without leaves is visible and mountains each side. A goat escapes down the hill.
On my way back first tourists drive up. By the time I get to lake Enol there are a lot of cars and buses driving back and forth on the other side of the lake. Great. I scramble along the stones in the lake, following Nigel's instructions. Luckily I can hold on to the rock and don't fall into water. Various flowers are blossoming, like half-frozen daffodils and more fresh looking dandelions. Starlings dart to and fro. From the hill between the two lakes is a lovely view to both lakes, snow-capped mountains and down the valley. Most of the people do what they do everywhere. Drive to the parking lot, click a few photos, stand a while holding themselves stooped because their fancy jacket does not correspond to the weather, get back into the car and drive home. The Spanish probably drive to a restaurant or café. I can understand why they come here. It's beautiful here and the place has been made accessible.
Driving back down, the opposing traffic tends to drive in the middle of the road. There's no crash barrier and where asphalt ends, abyss starts. I can look at them arrogantly from the inner curve.
A short break at the imposing Covadonga church standing high on a cliff.
As it's already 11 o'clock it's high time to go to Cangas de Onis' cheese market. It is open until two. All is full of cars, I find a 2 € parking lot around a corner. A big empty space. I go where most of the people and stalls seem to be. But they are selling clothes, only one car selling carlic. And there is one truck selling cheese. The seller offers every bystander to taste his assortment. You can get your stomach full here. Loud chatter and explaining goes with it. I take a bit of this and a bit of that and wander off. It seems to be all there is as for the market. Weird. I don't want any cheese from a shop, without all the chatter. At last I happen to step on a back street where there are loads of cheese and vegetables and lot of people in a small corner. Mostly they are buying cheese and some kind of small white pellets. Unfortunately I don't speak Spanish good enough to understand what these are. But I can buy cheese. After carrying my booty to the car, I have some lunch. Salad and stuff. You never understand when they have their eating times here. No English spoken, I switch back to Spanish. Cafe con leche.
Black men selling sun glasses walk in and out of cafés. They have always and everywhere the same profession.
Cider is very popular among locals. There is a special way to serve it. Waiter lifts the bottle above his head and pours from there a small amount to the glass. Bubbles home-made. Some falls to the ground and it's meant to give it back to the earth. Joann explains all that to me later.
Yesterday I found out from Samantha what's the thing with those little houses on stilts. The thing is called 'orreo' and is basically a granary. It stands on stilts to prevent rats from getting in. And the staircases are not broken, the last step is not put in place on purpose - the rat doesn't jump over the gap. Today these are mostly used as a simple storage rooms or additional bedrooms or something like that. There are also houses that stand on six 'feet', these are called differently but serve the same end.
Looks like it's not going to rain (yet). I decide to continue with plan A and that means going back to La Molina to take more pictures of the trees. It seems also to be nice weather on the coast but I don't have a plan nor a map for the coast today.
There are cars in the beginning of the trail but those people, supposed to have arrived with the cars are nowhere to be seen. It tries to drizzle but changes its mind and even the sun comes out for a while. I have all the trees just for myself and all of them get photographed from front, back and side. Apple and strawberry picnic. The strawberries aren't really worth the trouble, though.
Under the trees are some low circles laid out in stone. These are nut catchers. It the nut falls down from the tree and wants to roll downhill into the river then the nut catcher catches it. Such a clever system. It starts to drizzle now and I leave the chest-nut grove to an arriving fisherman.
With this cold foot-bath during past two days I've got a very stuffy nose.
In wifi-area there's Philip drinking cider and looking bored. Military topics are discussed.
Until midnight we have a hefty discussion about the impact of British Empire on today's world. Philip is a convinced imperialist and claims that English is spoken around the former colonies only because of their imperial past and Americans, money and business have nothing to do with it. John argues against it vehemently. Good that they don't start a fight.
soaked trails
from Balmor to Villahormes

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