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A short but very steep descent on the Olvidado

Simon Shum

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Thanks Laurie! I do have a question that might be easier tpo ask here than in the Zoom meeting. when I read your post trip writeup:
"Vegacervera to Buiza. For an hour or so from Vegacervera you follow the Coladilla river up its increasingly narrow gorge. At the village of Villar del Puerto, you cross a watershed and join the canyon of the Ciñera river. At which point you fall off a cliff. The descent in the first half into the gorge is very very dramatic (worse in all Caminos) Very slippery, very steep, quite scary,. very lovely. (tourists who'd walked up the easy way) but very beautiful. It is a rocky descent like nothing I have ever seen. I gave Alun one of my poles, and together the two of us went step by step, frequently sitting down, frequently looking nervously to the right to see if we are going to plunge down to the river below. It was really pretty scary. Now, the truth is, it takes you to a beautiful place – a gorge with a small river running through it. And then the beautiful beech forest. But I think that if I were sensible, I would not walk it again. ….. All is well, but I think future peregrinos should think twice about this stage. (But Alan, how in the world did you do that descent to the bosque in the rain? It nearly did me in in good weather. Alan: It was one of the toughest days I've ever walked, MikeJS was OK with it -- Quite vertiginous and it would be dangerous in the wet.)"

My question -- do you still think future peregrinos should think twice?? or there mught be other short alternatives? Thanks! (I am 72 and my wife is 65, both have done a few caminos)
 
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peregrina2000

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Hi, Simon,
This is a topic that came up at our first Forum Zoom, so I imagine it will come up again. I was 68 when I did that descent last year, so I am right in between you two.

That post-trip write-up you quote is actually part mine, part Alan Sykes’ (I don’t want to take credit for his much more beautiful prose). And I don’t know what Alan meant about “walking up the easy way”, either. Maybe he will join in to explain.

I think the best advice I can give is that everyone should walk to the beginning of the descent — it is about a three minute walk out of Villar del Puerto, which is right on the camino. Then if it looks just too crazy, you walk back and take the road option. The problem with the road option, though, is that it will mean that you also miss the glorious beech forest, the abandoned mine, and the nice bars in Ciñera, because the road will take you straight to La Vid to join up with the Camino again. I’ve attached a screen shot of google maps, and you can see that Ciñera is not on that road. The camino emerges from the beech forest and then goes into Ciñera (bars) and then on to La Vid, and then on.....

Truth be told, I would probably try it again, but it was hairy! Buen camino, Laurie
 

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peregrina2000

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I have gotten some more questions about the steep descent on the stage from Vegacervera to Buiza(/Pola de Gordón. This was a question that came up in a thread about the Zoom meeting so I thought I would move it to the Olvidado sub-forum and make it easier for people to find. Happy to explain further if this isn’t clear.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

caminka

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Very slippery, very steep, quite scary,. very lovely. (tourists who'd walked up the easy way) but very beautiful.
I think this may possibly refer to tourists starting at the bottom of the gorge and following the gorge upsteram as far as the walkways go. then turning around.
from the photos and videos I've seen, the last part of the descent from the road into the gorge is indeed a very steep and fairly eroded path. walking poles and careful slow steps well advised. possibly best to avoid if it's raining and follow the road into la vid de gordon.
 
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caminka

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I would go a little further and say that there is nothing on that descent that even qualifies as a path, it is just jagged rocks. You just have to pick your way little by little. No doubt about which way to go though!
how long would you say the descent is, by ear? 100m? 200m? would it be possible to avoid part of it by zig-zaging a bit down the slope on one's own? (I would really hate to miss the goodies after the descent.)
 

caminka

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on the google maps it looks like there is an offshot to the L (as you are going down) that may avoid the worst of the descent?
cinera gorge.jpg
 
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peregrina2000

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how long would you say the descent is, by ear? 100m? 200m? would it be possible to avoid part of it by zig-zaging a bit down the slope on one's own? (I would really hate to miss the goodies after the descent.)

I am going to have to check with my walking buddy, because I don’t have a good memory for time lapse. Or for distance. But I would say that it was probably no more than 100 m and took us no more than a half hour.

I can’t see what you are referring to on that map, though, when you talk about an offshoot to the L. But my memory is pretty clear that there was just one way to go, and that was down!

Buen camino, Laurie
 

caminka

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I can’t see what you are referring to on that map, though, when you talk about an offshoot to the L. But my memory is pretty clear that there was just one way to go, and that was down!
the offshoot I see is circled in yellow. I theorize that because it hits the gorge higher up, there could be less of the tricky descent involved.
cinera gorge 2.jpg
 

peregrina2000

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If you look at Ender’s tracks, https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trai...uiza-camino-olvidado-trazado-oficial-42463098 (which seem to end in La Vid even though they are described as going all the way to Buiza), you can see that the descent does not look awful on the elevation profile. It is the jagged-ness of the rocks that make it really tricky.

And I agree with you @caminka that @alansykes must have been referring to the boardwalk path that takes you up from the beech forest to the gorge. Going down from Villar del Puerto, there is no boardwalk till you get much closer to the bottom. This youtube shows the nice boardwalk route.

And EUREKA. I finally found a youtube video that gives a good sense of what the descent entails. Go to about 3:37of this video, where the notation “fuerte bajada” flashes across the screen (steep descent). You can see how you have to pick over the rock.
 
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Simon Shum

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Yes EUREKA is right! Thanks so much Laurie for your perseverance in finding the video! What a beautiful walk -- the Salvador Camino is beautiful, but this is supreme!
The steep descent demands heightened care, and worst to worst, it is OK walking down on our butts with what a peregrino shared his experience of "crab like descent" (in the rain).
We always bring our hiking poles when going to the mountains!
Buen Camino!
 

caminka

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yea, that is no fun in good weather and absolutely no fun in the rain. at least it's mostly on solid rock and not on rolling stones.
perhaps they should install some iron pegs or something (we have that on such stretches in slovenia, or cable or even a ladder.)
 
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MikeJS

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Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I remember it well. I wrote at the time ' This section is another spectacular route and has a part that is very steep heading down to a narrow way through a gorge. Quite vertiginous and it would be dangerous in the wet.” I think it took about 30 to 40 mins to scramble down the steep section taking it very slowly. As Laurie said, it is not really a path, although the route is fairly obvious. IMG_5738.jpeg IMG_5739.jpeg IMG_5741.jpeg
 

peregrina2000

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I remember it well. I wrote at the time ' This section is another spectacular route and has a part that is very steep heading down to a narrow way through a gorge. Quite vertiginous and it would be dangerous in the wet.” I think it took about 30 to 40 mins to scramble down the steep section taking it very slowly. As Laurie said, it is not really a path, although the route is fairly obvious. View attachment 77259 View attachment 77260 View attachment 77261

Wow, great pictures, @MikeJS. That first picture is the best for showing prospective Olvidado peregrinos what the descent looks like. It`s hard to decipher what’s up and what’s down in that picture, except for the lovely little bit of sky light to help us out. So anyone who is going to walk that way is forewarned! Having said that, I think an extra bit of effort is well worth it, since the alternative misses the gorge, the beech forest, the mines, and Ciñera. Buen camino, Laurie
 

MikeJS

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Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
Wow, great pictures, @MikeJS. That first picture is the best for showing prospective Olvidado peregrinos what the descent looks like. It`s hard to decipher what’s up and what’s down in that picture, except for the lovely little bit of sky light to help us out. So anyone who is going to walk that way is forewarned! Having said that, I think an extra bit of effort is well worth it, since the alternative misses the gorge, the beech forest, the mines, and Ciñera. Buen camino, Laurie
I thought that section was one of the loveliest parts of a camino that I have ever walked and would definitely not want to miss it.
 
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norelle

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Camino Frances (2011 April, 2014 March) San Salvador, Primitivo, Finisterre, Muxia (June 2015) Del Norte (Sept/Oct 2016)
I thought I would add to this thread having just completed this stage last week.
After reading about it and watching the YouTube, I was a bit concerned. But I didn’t want to miss the lovely canyon below. There hadn’t been any recent rain and I dearly wanted to avoid any extra road walking.
So, off I went. Using my poles, always 3 points of contact as mentioned above. I was especially careful.
When I was only a small section down, a local man about my age (I’m assuming he was local as he had no backpack, not even a water bottle) came jogging down beside me. Yes…jogging. He kept saying to me ‘poco a poco’ as he scooted quickly down. Seriously, it was like watching a middle-aged/elderly mountain goat!! I saw him again after the canyon as I think he was doing an extra loop! Incredible!
I always think about these things ‘if I can do it, anyone can’. The rewards are lovely. I did have to go on my bottom a few times but, judging by the smoothness of those particular rocks, I wasn’t the first person to use that technique in some spots.
It really was a highlight of a few days walking and thinking of it helped get me through the La Vid - Buiza section!!
Buen Camino
 

peregrina2000

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The rewards are lovely.
Totally agree! The combination of that enchanted beech forest, plus the view of the gorge once you’re down there, not to mention the chance to see the entrance to an old mine shaft left just as it was when the mine was working — lovely, as you say.

I think that poco a poco is excellent advice, and I also think that most able-bodied peregrinos are likely to make the descent without mishap. Not at a fast clip, just one plodding step at a time. If your depth perception is screwy, or if you have serious balance issues, you should think twice, but there is no stop watch and you can take all the time you need.

@norelle, did you use sticks on that descent? I used one and gave one to the guy I was walking with, but I have since thought that it might have been less precarious with them tucked away in my pack.
 

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