So we left off with us making the decision to go home, and we were waiting for the bus in San Millan. And waiting. And, guess what? No bus appeared. Either we were in the wrong spot, or the online bus schedule was wrong, but it was clear there was no option but to walk to Anguiano, and catch the bus from there as originally planned. I’m not gonna lie, at this point I was pretty nervous. I stretched and thought about crying and finally decided to pretend I was on The Challenge and just power through.
On the bright side the bus stop was right by the monastery, which was so pretty in the morning.
We had a huge day ahead of us, so we prepared with a huge breakfast. This slightly improved my mood, as did the chocolate Gareth started forcing me to eat at random intervals. And I am SO glad we did the second day. Yes, by the end I was limping along, positive I had irreparably damaged my knee, but the second day was so gorgeous. We walked through the forest for a few hours, and didn’t see a single other person. We walked on a mountain rim, and saw an amazing mountain pass, with a path through it. Probably we’ll need to come back one day to climb it, because it was incredible.
After about four hours of walking we passed a town that had a bar that was miraculously open, and we stopped and had a snack and a glass of wine. Then we walked about five more minutes and saw a trail marker. I ran up to it, sure we had another hour or two at most, because I was naive, and the wine had improved my view of the world. I found that we were halfway. Halfway.
There’s no picture of this marker because honestly, the discovery stung a bit. We’d been taking it slow because of my knee and suddenly I was worried we were going to miss our bus back to Logroño. But the next hour or so was all on flat ground, and we passed through a town and then walked on a (really pretty) street for quite a while. It was a nice break, and still really gorgeous.
Eventually Anguiano was in sight, but not before the path led us up a long and winding mountain. It was really incredible–we could see the trees with all their colors everywhere, the village across the river, and there were cows EVERYWHERE. Up until this point we had encountered many a cow, but always with enough room to just casually (or frantically, if you are me and not Gareth) walk by them. But now we were on a MUCH narrower path and there were about five cows just chilling along the way. We tried to herd them a bit before G climbed up a trail behind them and dropped a rock down. (To be clear NOT on them, just so the noise disturbed them and they moseyed away.) Then we were on the real and actual final stretch. We had to walk back down the mountain which was the final straw for my knee. Before the descent, however, there was a marker saying only 2 kilometers left, which gave me the motivation I needed to get it done. THAT SAID, that marker is a huge lie and it was much, much more than 2K. Just FYI. I commandeered a stick as a crutch and hobbled along like a crippled 90 year old woman. Also I slipped and fell in mud/possibly poo hahaha. So imagine how amazing this trek was that I was STILL amazed by the beauty and so happy to be there.
the lying marker
At the end of the final trail there was a gate to the bridge that would let us cross the river into town. We were done, except for the last cow in our way. Gareth went to herd it and discovered that no, it was not a cow. IT WAS A BULL. He attempted to tell me this in a calm and reassuring manner, which my brain interpreted as him calmly telling me to GTFO of there. So in about .5 seconds I had slid between the fence that was keeping us all in and was dangling on the mountain ledge. G walked over, asked WHAT I was doing and if I would please come out so we could carry on walking. Oops. In reality this guy seemed way less interested in us than any of the cows were. That said, Gareth and I have made some cow enemies over the years…
Anyway, we went through the gate, into safety, across the bridge, and INTO ANGUIANO!
The bus stop back to Logroño is right by the bridge and there was a bar about a minute farther down the road. Again it wasn’t a time they were serving any food, but it was the only place open. So they offered to make us some bocadillos, and we played cards and drank wine for a few hours until our bus. It was pretty excellent.
I cannot recommend this hike enough. It was INCREDIBLY gorgeous, had a seriously diverse landscape–sometimes we were in mountains, sometimes in the forest, by a river, or passing through a small village. Other than our start, mid, and end points, we only saw four other people the entire time, and they were all working on the land. We had the entire trail to ourselves, and that was as amazing as it sounds.
It was SUPER well marked, though we did get lost once and it was pretty much the worst. We had just spent about 45 minutes going down a long, winding road to the bottom of a mountain. And then the trail seemed to be taking us straight back up, just on a direct/steeper trail. I was so sure it was a shortcut to get down to where we were from the top, but G ran ahead on the road we were on and there wasn’t another marker anywhere nearby us. So we took the incredibly steep trail, which led us… back where we started. It was pretty disheartening. We debated going back down the long, easy way, but I couldn’t imagine sinking another 45 minutes into it, and we were back down the steep path in about 20 minutes. And discovered the trail continued straight ahead, behind the road we had been on. We didn’t think to look down the edge of the road, but that’s where the next marker was. BUT other than that, we didn’t miss a beat and I can’t get over these trails Spain just has built in everywhere, no maps needed!
The buses to/from Logroño and Anguiano were super easy. We bought the tickets on each bus, and slept during the rides. The way there was about an hour and fifteen minutes and the way back was 45. I have no clue what the bus situation in San Millan is, and if you figure it out please let me know!