La Portela – Ambasmestas – Vega de Valcarce – Ruitelan – Las Herrerias – La Faba – Laguna de Castilla – O’Cebriero – Linares – Alto de San Roque – Hospital – Padornelo – Alto do Poio
Total distance walked for Part 2 = 164.2 km
I really wasn’t feeling this today from the moment I left our room at 6 am; I feel mentally and physically drained by the heightened emotion, the pain in my feet, and that of my heart. And by the warnings of the guide books that we are going uphill for most of the day!
But onto the trail. It is a fairly easy ride coming out of La Portela in the dark; there are a few spots to watch carefully for signs but the main difficulty comes in the steep climbs once you leave Los Herrerias. The path heads up through the woods and is endlessly steep. The only upside is that it pops out into small villages, giving the opportunity for stops and refreshments.
The views afforded by this climb are, however, spectacular and worth every single footstep; the mist grips the valleys for hours into the daylight, so much we felt that we had risen above the clouds and were floating in the heavens. We took many moments to rest at the top, enjoying the tranquility and stillness of the morning.
Once over the top at O’Cebeiro, the pain is not over though and there are several short climbs through the villages on route. But the one final village at Alto de Poio was the hardest and hottest 200 meters of the day. My legs had gone, my blistered toes and heels were stinging and I felt each stone and piece of grit in that last 200 mtrs. My partner was wonderful though; he talked me through the final forty steps to the Albergue at the top where we gratefully fell into bed for an afternoon sleep.