Monday, February 07, 2011

Walking in Asturias 9 - Torre Blanca, (The White Tower) y Punta Gregoriana (Gregorian Top)

Some of the Western Massif peaks
The walk I would like to tell you about today starts with a 1 hour drive from La Pasera, up to the Western Massif, the heart of the Picos Mountains National Park. This beautiful drive takes you up a narrow and winding road until you reach Lake Ercina, the second of two glacial lakes at an altitude of about 1200 m. Lake Ercina is the most visited spot in the National Park. The joy of experiencing the quality of the light of the dawning sun as you drive up to the lake is complemented by the numerous shadows that the early sun rays cast over the lime stone peaks.

Leaving the car on the shore of the lake, we start walking on animal tracks up to the base of the peaks through the area known as La Cereceda, a featureless expanse of grass and lime stone. Navigation is the main challenge on this walk at times requiring one of us to stay put while the other goes forward in search of the next waymark, a few stones piled up and easily missed. It is times like this when you really appreciate walking with someone who is good at navigating.

Some snow remains 
Although the greenery comes scarce as you gain altitude, it is always such a treat to come across a variety of alpine plants growing in crevices. The impressive deep ravines and size of the peaks we come across on this walk provided us with such an impressive back drop to some fabulous and very dramatic landscape and views that make you forget the hardships of climbing the peaks. It never fails to amaze me the incredible views from the top. I always enjoy the 360 degree views that you are rewarded when you "crown" the peak.

The top of many peaks is crowned by a sort of letter box like the one on the previous photo that tell you the name and height of that particular peak. There are times when you open these letter boxes to find a note with some information about the people who left it, the route they took up to the top and the weather conditions they encountered on the day.
On the peak of Torre Blanc

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