When plans change.

Today I was due to fly back to Barcelona to start, again, the North to South run, amble, trip thing.

Plans change, life happens, and I’ve found other things to hold my focus whilst still keeping in sight my original plan.

Since returning after a short stint running along the GR2 (La Jonquera to Aiguafreda) and part of GR5 (Aiguafreda to Montserrat) I’ve had to think long and hard about what to do, what is the right thing.

Given that I gave everything up to do this trip I came back into uncertainty, it has not been pretty, it’s been rough.

I’ve had days where I’ve felt completely lost and have hidden myself away in my own self pity.

Spending time trying to get yourself on your feet is not an easy task when the reason you are in the situation is mostly down to your own choices. Looking at yourself and owning the mistakes you made is like looking in the mirror after a really heavy night of debauchery.

Scary!

Don’t get me wrong, Spain wasn’t a bad choice, but how I went about it was far from perfect, I hurt someone close to me. I don’t believe in regrets, I chose to go, I picked my path and I live with that.

Obvisouly I couldn’t have forseen the tooth saga, seriously the last thing I thought during a run of 1100miles across mountains and plains of Spain is teeth being the reason I didn’t finish.

Lots of work to be done to pay for new teeth…..whatever work comes my way I am taking it (within reason of course).

Going back to basics again, starting afresh. Moving out, new job, new friends. Building myself back up, figuring things out along the way.

Still the fact there’s an empty seat with my name on a flight today makes me a little bit sad.

Stuff happens. Onwards.

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The tooth saga….an update.

Yep the tooth saga seems never-ending.

I want to be able to smile without feeling embarrassed, it’s lovely how I’ve noticed that I smile a lot, instinctively but it’s awful how I hold it back more and more.

After having to come back from Spain to have a baby tooth out in January I have been planning to get back to the trails and start again next month, April.

Over the course of the last few weeks I have been having increased ache/pain in my mouth around the area that the baby tooth was removed.

Previously my dentist had said that I had an adult tooth above which I knew about anyway but it’d never shown signs of wanting to actually be where it should so I’d never worried about it.

Until the baby tooth had to come out.

It’s been 3 months to the day that I had the baby tooth out and today I went back due to the aforementioned ache I am getting.

X-ray done, he confirmed the adult tooth is now on the move, sadly however it is not going in the right direction. It is pushing onto the tooth next to it, the ache  is due to movement but also pressure.

He’s referring me to the Maxiofacial department at the local hospital…..this will take 2 to 3 months.

I will have to have the adult tooth, that is now coming down incorrectly out, it’s unlikely the Orthodontic team would want to use that adult canine tooth.

It may be that I will also have to have the tooth (incisor) that is being pushed onto out also.

This will leave me with two gaps from my front teeth, the left canine and lateral incisor

The possibility is to have two implants fitted, bridges are not a viable option due impart to the nature of the teeth and the load they take and also that I over-bite slightly.

I could go private, have that time reduced, tooth/teeth taken out and a nice pair of implants put in, but this will cost in excess of £4000.

NHS would be about half of that but a far longer wait.

So the reason I say all this, one for your information but also it means that Spain trip is being put on hold until this is sorted out. My money is being spent on my mouth.

Of course I am hoping that I will be able to go sooner as opposed to later, for now though I will aim for September with the vain hope I have brilliant and amazing set of teeth by then and I can smile with utter confidence again.

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Plans formulating – again

A little update.

I’ve still not had my tooth replaced…just too darn expensive. My kind friends say I look fine, I still get a shock however whenever I catch see myself in a mirror or a picture smiling.

That all said it may well be that I shall re-start the trip sans new tooth simply because I just can’t see the point right now. It’s priority has lessened.

The flight is booked back to Barcelona for the end of April, the weather will be kinder and the places more hospitable with shops actually being open.

Instead of starting where I finished, in Montserrat, I have decided to actually get to the E4 and use the GR7 route that runs from the border of Andorra/Spain. The route I’ve chosen starts right by the Runer River.

I’d wanted to do this originally but December wasn’t the right time of year hence why I started on the GR2 and did some of GR5 back then.

The plans are coming along despite the funds being, well lacking, I am a bit worried about this and part of me has thought why not just work through spring and summer then head off in September, it’ll still be nice then still.

As I am currently on borrowed hospitality I feel that I shouldn’t be pushing my luck with it….this attitude may change I just find it hard to rely on others for extended periods.

So the plan so far is to start in April, journeying through Spain in May and finishing at the very beginning of June in El Morche.

That’s the plan.

This is the little bit of the start from Andorra/Spain border

bit of the start

 

 

The end for now….. New teeth needed

There are days missing which I will post soon.

But here’s today’s update……

So I caught the train from Montserrat to Barcelona after hiking across Mont Obac from wild camp spot today.

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A beautiful warm day blighted only by the continual pain on the left side of my mouth that has continued to get worse these last 5 days.

Arrived at Placa Espanya went to pharmacy on Aragon who recommended a dentist around cornor called Vitaldent.

Off I went to dentist.

Saw nurse first who assessed how quickly I needed to be seen.

Within 15 minutes I was with a very kind and nice dentist who did an Xray and check up.

He said what I kind of thought.

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Root is infected, baby tooth needs to come out as it’s dead and will likely have another reinfection.

Better to have it out sooner rather than later.

And kind of looked worried when I said I wasn’t planning on going back till March.

He felt I should probably have both baby teeth out, I have two but only one is bad at moment but makes sense to take both out and pull adult ones down.

Will maybe wear a brace for 2 years while teeth grow into place.

Anyway, he was nice and wish he was my dentist.

He did it for free, gave me prescription for antibiotics to help reduce infected aréa.

That only cost €4…. I kind of want my teeth taking out here 😀

In a nutshell then I coming back to UK tomorrow.

So after 12 days of crossing from Aquallana to Montserrat, I’ve covered 145 miles and about 24,500ft of ascent.
Averaging thus 12 miles ish and 2000ft ish a day.

Slept wild on 6 nights, 3 nights at a ‘real’ camp site, one of which at Les Preses Camping natura the manager Pere let me stay in social room, 1 night in a village hall and yoga with Crystal included and shower the next day at lady called Ainhoas house. 1 night on Christmas Eve, cyclists James’ Mums flat and 1 night in a Hostal.

In that time I’ve met some lovely people Oskar is one of them (he helped me find a place on Christmas day, phoned and checked available room then checked that I was OK once at hostal).

It is these kind acts that have made this trip, without these people, including the dentist who saw me for free the journey wouldn’t have been as special.

Thanks to them I go back to the UK with memories that make me very happy and also have raised a few hundred pounds for Cancer Research.

This will not be the end. I plan to come back and start where I finished….but hopefully with better teeth 😀😀😀.

The kindness continues.

Day 6, 22nd December.

Leaving the campsite Natura I decided hiking up from Les Preses to take a cycle path for around 5km.

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I was full of pastry and general happiness at the last night as had met such lovely people. Sleeping in a ‘social room’ rather than outside in the pouring rain plus have a heater to dry stuff made the world of difference.

The cycle track finished at Sant Estee d’en Bas and the I wandered towards Hostelets D’en Bas before starting to do the climb up towards Falgars den Bas.

1 mile up and 1500ft (500metres) and I was at the top of the limestone cliff at Falgars d’en Bas.

Someone slightly mad had made that route up. Ridiculously steep especially with my pack.

The day was chilly but beautiful, though rain was on the horizon so I hurried (as much as I could with my pack to Pruit.

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The area at the top of the cliffs is open pasture, a rolling countryside plateu that just seems like another world.

The signs aren’t so great and I soon end up a bit lost, I spy a road of sorts and head towards it, realising that I’m actually far from where I should be.

My mood darkens as the clouds come over. Timely. Though there’s a rainbow on the horizon, always hopeful.

I find a fountain (font) fill up and trudge on, wondering what to do as my plan had been to get to Rupit that day.

The land around as I said is pasture mostly, cows and sheep take up the vast space.

I start to get forlorn, thinking I need to find somewhere to sleep. The rain has stopped after an hour but darkness is coming.

At 5pm I opt for climbing a fence and descending just off the road to camp around some bushes.

I don’t feel safe but it’s the best I can do.

The night goes fine despite my heavy mood.

I  not bothered by anything or anyone.

Day 7, 23 December somewhere near Rupit to Vilanova del Sau (aka friendliest village ever)

Waking up to a clear yet chilly morning I make sure I’m in my way just after sunrise at 8:30am to Rupit, which I know now is 2miles away.

Getting there a bakery is open, I’m relieved and my mood perks up, amazing what food can do.

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Into the village centre I go in search of wifi as I need to know if the next place has shops open for more food.

I find a cafe that’s open, and am welcomed by the Owners Laura and John. They make a space at the table next to the fire then go about asking what I’m doing which is tricky as my Spanish is bad and Catalan is worse.

They have WiFi so I use Google translate…. Technology is wonderful sometimes.

Laura, let’s me charge my phone and we try to communicate as best we can. I am thankful for their openess and I would love to stay longer by the fire but must go.

So I set off, a short uphill back to the cliffs and it’s not long before I am greeted by the best views so far.

It’s amazing. I’m on a plateau, green pastures that rise and fall gently opposed by the abrupt and jagged edges of the cliffs to the other side. Mile after mile of cliffs, some rounded others sharp and jutting.

All steep yet teaming with life, birds swoop around me going about their day as they should.

If I were to stop here I’d be happy.

I continue, smiling, talking to myself, happy with the day and the general feeling I have.

Passing just 2 hikers I make my way to Tavertet.A small hamlet on this amazing plateau. Everything quiet and closed, I stop for a spot of lunch. Find another fountain, a regular thing so far in Catalonia are the fountains and the water is good.

I chat briefly with a man with his dog, or rather he chats to me about the route down as I nod and try to understand.

The way down is superb, fun single track that skirts the cliff edge, zig zagging through the oak woods passing boulders and overhanging rock.

About an hour after I’m at the reservoir Peunta de La Sau. It’s around 3 pm and the sun is low thus giving such an amazing colour to the cliffs that I am sure my grin is bigger than my face. It’s just lovely. There is no-one around.

The silence is so beautiful, it matches the surrounding area perfectly.

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I climb up again, after crossing the damn bridge up some steps and then take a route that leads to a road for a bit till I see the Gr2 again and follow a forest track that gently descends to a stream almost stopping at what looks like a kids camp site, make shift shelters next to the route, tempting but I continue which I’m glad I did aa two guys on motor cross bikes pass me not long after.

It’s 5:30pm now and the night is here, I spot somewhere but it’s so close to the next village I have my doubts. So I wander to the village.

Vilanova de La Sau.

A pretty village above the reservoir. A bakery is still open and I ask about places to stay. The lady (Eva) asks her daughter (Paula) to translate and says there’s nothing open but the local town hall may be able to let me stay in there.

So I see Juan the local major I guess and he let’s me use the room for the night. An hour later I’m part of a yoga class led by a French lady called Crystal, much needed after 6 days hiking.

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Crystal then gives me her takings from the class for charity.  I’m taken aback and almost so no. The kindness of people is strong here.

I meet a lady called Ainhoa who had Cancer at 37, 2 years ago.

The next day (Friday) she has opened her home to me, to shower and have breakfast. I am continually amazed by how lovely people are. How kind strangers can be.

It is touches my heart. ❤

#kindnessofstrangers #villanovadelsau #northtosouthspain #bestvillageever

Kindness of strangers and all the rain

Day 4 – Monday 19th.

Besalu to Santa Pau around 25km ish and a few ‘hills’ which took 5hrs 30 ish….you can probably guess that I’m mostly walking, going as fast as I can just there’s a heavy pack (13kgs) on me and shaving weight off just is near impossible.

I could get rid of the stove and pans, not of any use without right gas (see previous post). But I hope to find gas…somewhere!

Anyway.

Besalu, the campsite is located out of the village 4km to the centre I trudge, it’s cold and packing the tent that was coveted in frost has me hankering for warmth and food. I need food, though once in Besalu I am evidently not so hungry as to have a burger from a vending machine, standards perhaps haven’t lowered enough – yet!

Meander around, it’s a pretty place, so much history just I need food so my focus is that. Shop found, food bought. I then look for coffee.

An hour spent pinching electricity and enjoying coffee and croissant perks me up.

On way out a buy a Spanish tortilla, all eggy goodness – lunch will feel like a feast. For € 5 a coffee, croissant, tortilla and free WiFi. I’m impressed and happy I didn’t choose the burger.

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Back to the route, it climbs up a forest Road meandering through oak woods and peaks at a chapel in Ossinya.

Then I’ve a descent to the river bed, my lunch spot. Aware of time I savour as much of the tortilla but quite frankly just shoved it in my mouth and stomach says thanks.

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Another climb, which isn’t easy, even if I could run you couldn’t here. This tops out at Col Salom then gradually descends towards El Torn.

An amazingly pretty and serene spot, farming land by the looks of it, I see a ruin and dream of living the good life for a brief moment.

The time is ticking till darkness descends and I need to get to the campsite near Santa Pau. By 5:30pm I’m there just as rain starts to descend I find the campsite closed. After a mini tantrum I go into town to see if there are any hotels or something.

It’s dark and raining harder I’m in no mood to find a spot…oddly it feels less safe to try and pitch once night descends. I like light to know exactly what’s around me. Last thing I want is to pitch up in someone’s back garden or worse a field for cows (shudders).

So I find info centre open at 6pm still, but the lady isn’t massively helpful. I wander out feeling despondent and try to call a hostel but they person speaks Catalan and obviously I don’t understand which is entirely my fault I know but it doesn’t make an easy exchange so I kind give up.

Wandering back through town I spot a place open, walk through the doors and am greeted by smiles.

Three ladies stand chatting (plus 2 dogs) one of the ladies is owner of the place but the two girls are guests. I ask for a room, not available, they then go into debates about where is best and phone the person I just spoke too. It’s a bit tricky as price is higher than I can afford for this trip (€40)…

The girls mention another campsite or maybe it was me. They then proceed to phone to check it’s open enquire about price (€22) still pricey but we’re in a national park so normal from what they say.

The two girls are on holiday from Barcelona both work in a hospital, Hazel and Lorena (sorry if I got that wrong) plus their two dogs Maggie and yep I’ve forgotten.

They then take me the 3km out of town to this campsite. Slightly out of what I am doing but their kindness is part of why I’m doing this too, i know there are good people out there just not always enough said about the simple gestures.

After a chat about what I’m doing we say our goodbyes.

I sign in, then go about putting up tent half under a shelter by picnic bench in the pouring rain (the shelter is good for my stuff not the tent.

The wifi is free and I make full use of it. Connections are important at this time of year. I want people to know I’m safe.

The rain falls heavily but the tiredness hits and I get a fairly good night’s sleep.

Day 5 – 20th December.

Planning how to pack up in the morning I decide to simply put everything in the toilets. I’m the only person mad enough to be camping. Therefore I’m in there bathroom for an hour trying to dry kit whilst using electricity.

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Stuffed packed, the rain is light but that annoying get everywhere light.

Waterproofs on I’m off.

Aim is Les Preses.

I need batteries for the Spot tracker as it’s not happy. Though I’ve already changed batteries once so I hope this doesn’t happen again soon. Should last 7 days with good GPS signal.

We’ll see.

The route takes me through the centre of the Zone volcanica Garrotxa national park. Easy going at first then a slippery mud fest followed by wide track then finally small Road into Les Preses.

Scenery is stunning, I pass the first walkers I’ve seen in 5 days.

The woodlands that house the craters are shrouded at their peaks in a fine mist giving an ethereal look, it feels peaceful here.

I march happily along. Today is short only 3hrs 30 and 8 miles no real notable hills just the muddy section.

Getting into Les Preses you are first greeted by an industrial estate. Don’t let this fool you, the actual town is nice, typically farming area and it’s surrounding landscape is beautiful.

Camping Natural, I’m greeted by a workman called Carlos who says pop your tent up and use the social room the owner will be here in about 1 hour (it was 2pm). So I do just that, warming myself up in the social room.

Once the owner Pere arrives, his English is perfect and we chat amiably about travels etc.

He is super kind, trying to find maps for me, telling me where everything is and says I can dry stuff in social room. Before he leaves for the day he gives me his number saying he’ll be back at 9am. He says in the meantime the owners son will be arriving to stay so I’ll probably see him around.

Shopping done at small but effective shop.

I go about planning what to do next…. I’m still planning. But getting there.

The owners son and his Girlfriend turn up, she’s from Germany and called Deike and his name is Jordà.

We chat a bit, mostly about what I’m doing but travels etc and there stay here for Christmas.

They then say they’ve a portable fire if I need it, maybe to stay in the social room as it’s raining more again. So I do just that, I de-camp to the social room.

We say good night and I thank them for their kindness.

My stuff is drying nicely…Finally managed to wash my clothes after 5 days of wearing same thing. It’s luxury.

And here I am cosy, enclosed in a room with heat, free WiFi and food. Tonight I had my first hot meal in five days too.

The kindness over last two days has made me a happy Gabby.

Night night.

All the things not to do….

My first day (Friday 16th December) was a rainy late one.

Wandered around Aquallana to figure out where exactly route started, then off I went at around midday.

A route that passed by little rivers and allotments, pretty and serene.

Once I was firmly away from Aquallana it was a case of jump under trees whenever there was a down pour.

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Start at Aguallana

No need to rush so tree hiding is fine.

Only one notable section had been clearly tampered with, spent a bit of time sussing it out, no real drama but only because I have a map.

Which makes me realise I need more maps. I’ve got some on my phone but if the battery goes and powebank is dead then eekk!

On towards Boadella D’Emporda via what looked like a place that was a wood of oaks but sadly burned down and most had been cut back/down so rather barren.

After here I hiked up a winding path that cut into the hill above the village. Finally topping out near a col.

It was here I decided to pitch up at around 5pm slightly away from the col. A neat spot not too far from the trail. Weather reports had predicted rain for 6pm, by 8pm it was hammering down.

I’d forgot to buy a lighter so couldn’t light stove to eat warm food, noted that I must get one.

With that the night passed, not cold, just frustrating with the rain. I cannot express how noisy rain is on a tent.

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first nights camp

2nd day (Saturday 17th) I wanted to stay in the tent, warm and cosy. I knew that packing down wasn’t going to be pretty.

Took me an hour, dry tent as much as possible then set off at 9:30 towards Terrades.

Got there remembering to buy a lighter and few bits of food, namely an oversized loaf of bread.

Onto next place, via a windy mountain Road, lots of cyclists out looking speedy.

 

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Oversized loaf

Villarig is a tiny hamlet, I stock up on water here by the Church then march on.

I must say I’ve mostly been walking probably 98%. Why? Well my pack, with food kit and water weighs close to 13kgs.

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Not sure I could cut back on weight by much. Maybe a 1kg tops. For sure I could cut tags and unnecessary strips of material from garments and kit.

Maybe once I stay at a b&b and have space to think about these things.

The thought has crossed my mind to take a lower more coastal route thus more places to eat and thus less for me to carry. But the idea of being in busy places and less wild isn’t so appealing as yet.

After Villarig it’s Llado a slighter larger place, only 1 cafe open but no food being served.

So on I trudge. At this point I decide to take a yellow route also known as PRs as opposed to the Gr2 I’ve been following, the reason was to cut out a big climb late in the day.

It begins easily enough and then gets awful after 2km. A swampy mud fest, followed by brambles, then a route that without a map I wouldn’t have a clue about has been covered with branches covered by a forest clearance of some sort….not so clear. I scramble and I curse. Next is a slippery med fest slope up.

I vow when I see a flat spot without brambles it’s mine for the night and almost at the top I do and it is mine.

Tent up, night kit on, I go about getting gas and stove for food…it is then I realise I’ve got the wrong gas.

First no lighter now wrong stove. I laugh at myself. The bread I bought earlier is eaten with some cheese squares I’ve got and I wash it down with water. Nice.

A slightly colder night, but only from the floor. Everything else toasty, I put an extra top on my down jacket and that helps a bit. Another disjointed night.

Day 3 (Sunday 18th)

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Sunrise on day 3

The get dressed in the morning in my tent because it’s cold outside makes me think I’m doing some sort of weird yoga.

Contorting oneself in a tiny tent isn’t easy.

I pack up and the tent is muddy which annoys me. I don’t want to waste tissues wiping it. Into its bag slightly damp and dirty it goes.

Onto the next part,after 2 km I am greeted by some hunters preparing the dogs.

I ask directions as again the route has gone array. They send me off and I must have taken a wrong turning as I end up surround my fencing either side of the path and keep out signs ahead….so I keep going.

Eventually I find the yellow marks again but they don’t go in the way I want so I make a decision simply to head down the forest track as I can hear a road.

Hitting the road there’s a sign saying 7km to Besalu.

I know from the map that I can take a nicer way so I wander about 2 km along and dip down towards the river that is pleasant enough. Another 2 hours I’m in Besalu.

Asking at info centre where the camp site is as tonight I need a shower and to recharge phone watch that died on me yesterday.

She says 2km, great that’s alright…except more like 4km out of town up and down a hill. Get to camp site and I think he is surprised to see a hiker.

His shop isn’t stocked or restaurant open, due to time of year. I’m frustrated with myself as I should have stayed in town of Besalu before coming here. I can’t face the 4km each way today, but shall go back tomorrow via the GR2 that i shall definitely take.

So what not to do…

Not to forget lighter

Not to buy wrong gas

Not to ask hunters for directions

Not to trust someone else idea of distance

What I must do…keep buying large loafs of bread 🍞 and buy another map at Les Presses.