Redecilla del Camino-Belorado-Villafranca Montes de Oca-San Juan de Ortega
Today is a bit of an epic day. The target is to hit Burgos by the end of tomorrow. To achieve this, and due to the 12.5km section in the middle, I need either to go long today and short tomorrow or vice-versa. I'll try and go long today!
Again, off to an early start and, although breakfast was available and offered, it was too early for the likes of me. So I start the 7.8mile trek to Belorado remembering that I need to both find an ATM and breakfast there. 1/2 hour in, I see Juan on his bike chasing after one of my fellow travellers who had left something behind and we exchanged smiles and greetings. To my own embarrassment, and a full 6miles into the day (past the villages of Viloria and Villamayor) a small dark blue van drives towards me, stops, and out gets Juan – again full of smiles, and hands me my wash bag that I didn't even know that I had forgotten (I did dot question why my rucksack was so easy to pack though!). I owe him great thanks!
Arriving in Belorado I find the ATM (and two of my fellow travellers from last night), withdraw some cash and head for a small bar for the regulatory coffee, juice and toast.
I take the next 7 or so miles in my stride to Villafranca Montes de Oca and hardly notice the 204m gain in elevation other than the final 50m or so to just outside the San Anton Abad albergue/hotel. I take more than a little rest – probably around 45mins+ – as I chat to passers by, including one I'd met much earlier on in the trip. Without exception, they all took refuge in the albergue for the night. This was a difficult decision for me – it was too early to call it a day and I really needed to put in that final push to reach my target.
So, I mustered the motivation and powered up the VERY steep hill and took a further 15 mins rest at the top!
The rest of the journey into San Juan de Ortega just seemed to be endless trekking over a rough forest road that served dual duty as a fire break. Now, the guidebook mentions "After that, it takes you past a depression which you leave behind after 1km" – more like a vertical cliff edge down then up (well my exaggeration is no more over the top than the guidebook underplaying it!).
The constant fly-attacks to the shades, a quick pit-stop at an oasis run on a donation (donativo) basis shortly followed by a wasp sting rounds up the forest experience.
Thankfully I make it to the parish refuge at 18:25 with dinner served at 18:30! Good conversation with a fellow traveller that I'd met way back in Los Arcos.
Shower, text (bah! No signal), quick email, bed.
648 metres elevation gain