- Distance: 13.31km/8.3mi (measured by wristwatch GPS), 12km/7.5mi (per book)
- Altitude gained: 1458m/4750ft (measured), 1550m/5085ft (per book)
- Time: 5:39hrs (measured), 7:00hrs (per book)
Oh, man, if you're staying at Hotel Bel Horizonte in Calenaza and face that beautiful clocktower next to the church... be aware that it will chime every other hour--at twelve, at two, at four. Didn't get much sleep, woke up grumpy, but caffeine cured that quickly.
After a small breakfast, we were on our way! Yay. The first section felt very familiar, through cistus (rockrose) and euphorbia and St John's Wort scrub, under a few oaks, very Californian, perhaps like somewhere around Chico? Very aromatic. We climbed up with a view over the village and down the valley to the sea, with a thin overcast, and darker clouds on the horizon.
Passing over the ridge, the trail got much easier for a long way , and we strided it out before a few switchbacks... stopping for our first break at a grassy flat space. We were all sweaty, but truth be told I was expecting much tougher going. Mostly, the path was well formed, a bit rocky, not anything difficult or really steep.
Having said that, the next section was definitely more interesting, scooting along some steep cliffs, with a fair bit of scrambling. up and down little rocky chutes. It was getting both warmer and darker; clouds building, and we stopped for a lengthy break. I showed Jon and Dave the magic of the Purple Powder (Crystal Light Grape Juice with caffeine) and things were good.
The last bit went quickly--we topped a ridgeline, then contoured a bit along the ridge under scattered pine groves. Across the steep ravine we could see the refuge, our goal for the day, easily achievable. We headed in and reserved dinner and breakfast, found campsites, set up our tents.
Not too difficult of a day. I'd rate it a 7 out of 10, but it'd be harder if it wasn't cool and overcast. It was also great that we had set up our tents when we got in at 12:30--at 2pm, it started raining hard for an hour, and then more gently for another hour. Good for a nice lazy nap!