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Steep (really steep) descents on unsealed surfaces - how to avoid them?

Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
#1
Background

In April 2016 I walked from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Estella-Lizzara.

During that jaunt I encountered only one really steep descent on unsealed (loose rubble) surfaces. This was the first 900 metres or so from Alto del Perdon towards Uterga. I dreaded the surface as I find the thought (fear) of having my feet slip from under me often gives rise to it actually happening.

In two weeks I return to Estella-Lizzara to continue westwards. And wish to avoid really steep descents on rubble (unsealed) surfaces.

Molinaseca

My research suggests the descent into Molinaseca has several such sections. While the average gradient is 10%, my research suggests some sections of this 12 km stretch are much steeper. Using Street View (images taken August 2012) I can see sections that have a dedicated (and well sealed) paths and sections that use of the nearby sealed road. And I can see at least one really really steep descent on rubble. And a thread from 2013 suggests several others.

My questions re Molinaseca

Would I be safer taking to the road?

(I know to walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic - except when going around left hand bends against embankments, when I would cross to the outside of the bend well in advance).

Or should I take public transport from Astorga?

Portomarin

In 2010 I negotiated this descent when it was exposed, but rutted, clay or similar. I understand the exact route has been moved a little since then.

My questions re Portomarin

Is this descent still steep on an exposed surface?

If so, can I safely take the road?

Any other steep descents on unsealed surfaces?

Any other things to think about on this topic?

Is there any other advice for me, por favor?
 

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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#2
My questions re Portomarin
Is this descent still steep on an exposed surface?
It is not particularly steep, and is virtually all road except by Mercadoiro.

My questions re Molinaseca
Would I be safer taking to the road?
The road is lightly traveled, but much longer than sticking to the rather awful trail. Younger walkers bounded from rock to rock as I carefully trudged the rocky and muddy trail.

Why not trekking poles? They will solve all your problems if properly used.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#4
Why not trekking poles?
Thanks for the suggestion. I have two and may not be using them properly.

My experiences are of loose rubble slipping under my feet, even though taking slow short deliberate steps, causing a sudden fall. And while normally quite agile on my feet when walking I find, once the feet are slipping, nothing I do can control the consequences.

The anxiety I have is about my condition called acute benign positional vertigo. The last episode was more than 15 years ago and laid me up for 10 days in bed just looking straight ahead. There is no cure following an episode: only meds to relieve the extreme nausea caused when the head moves.

And it is anxiety and/or tiredness together with a sudden head movement that can start another episode.

So hence my desire to avoid situations in the middle of nowhere ...
 
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
#5
I remembered a thread about the steepness of the new descent to Portomarin. You had added a post to the thread.
Rick, thank you and I did. And had forgotten that. At the time I was holed up in Burgos, drinking the local cranberry juice (local name = sangria) nursing pulled thigh muscles when on the Perdon descent.

So, if raining that day, I suspect I will consider the road.

Kia kaha
 

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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#6
my condition called acute benign positional vertigo
My Parkinson's makes every step and every position an experiment! Two points of contact at all times; two feet or one foot and one pole. On slippery spots, rocks in rain for example, I just slow my pace from very slow to dead slow...

The closest I have some to a fall is stepping across a gap and hitting an icy rock (winter). With the poles, I hit one knee, but nothing worse. "Back in the day" one stave worked, but now it would be just another thing to occupy one hand, and probably would not have prevented a fall on the icy rock.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#8
Hola @AlwynWellington , can't say I have less than happy memories of the walk into Portomarin - apart from having to hang on to my hat with the 20-30 km winds whilst crossing the river.
Totally agree about the Alto del Perdon - really needed to keep eyes open and tread carefully;

Molinaseca (or generally all the way from the Cruz de Ferro) - I have both walked and cycled this section of the Camino and totally advise against the road if you are walking. Whilst its a more even surface there are some steep sections, but even more importantly there are virtually no "shoulders" (at the side of the road) for one to walk facing the on-coming traffic, also there a quite a few blind corners were the drivers would not see you until they were virtually on you.
The walkers Camino (especially from Manjarin to Acebo) has some steep, rocky sections were again you do really need to keep eyes peeled and tread carefully. If its wet those rocks would be extra slippery. \
Cheers for now, Buen Camino
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
#9
On some sections there are alternative cycle routes, marked with a bike and yellow arrow, that take you around steep gravel parts but they do tend to be on the road which brings another set of challenges. I can't compete with the list of ailments and complaints of other users as I am still holding together quiet well. But I do have damaged lungs from repeated attacks of pneumonia as a girl, this means I tend to puff up hills like a steam train, coming down I use a technique that my dad taught me to get down mountain scree slopes… it involves digging your heel in, leaning back and bending your knees, really needs to be demonstrated and does look like something out of Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks, but I've used it for years and adapted it for the camino, the real danger comes from others falling about laughing when they see me change from low gear up hill puffing steam engine to screeching past them at high speed stepping down the other side.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
#10
This type of hazard is not limited to Spain: there are quite a few sections of the GR65 in France that are also steep and loosely surfaced. It truly makes for quite treacherous, sometimes heart-stopping, walking!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#11
Hi @AlwynWellington . That decent into Molinaseca for me was the hardest section of the CF. I ended up at the Physio in Ponferrada after it. I had prior ongoing issues though, and this just made it a lot worse.

I'm not sure walking down the road would be that safe.

If you are worried, why not stop at the coffee caravan just after Manjarin and call a taxi for the trip down the Hill? Might be a more sensible option that ending your Camino by falling.
 

martin1ws

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Somport to Finisterre Jul-Aug 2018
#12
I have a hill near to my home with small (really) steep parts that I include in my training walks. Yesterday in the night I walked again. It is in a big town, but it was cloudy. So the light was maybe something like a half-moon night and free sky somewhere else.

...On slippery spots, rocks in rain for example, I just slow my pace from very slow to dead slow...
At some point I walked on the steep part downwards - just for fun - for about 5 meters with eyes closed. In the night I changed from "very slow to dead slow". Pole - next step - test: Is it fixed? Foot - next step - test: Is it fixed? ... If this position has no grip I test the next position. So I put pressure on each foot or pole only after testing the grip. This "testing-process" plus the "Two points of contact at all times" gives safety.
I never thought of having my feet slip from under me.

But if you feel like this: "The anxiety I have is about my condition called acute benign positional vertigo." the tip of Robo is probably the best tip:
...
If you are worried, why not stop at the coffee caravan just after Manjarin and call a taxi for the trip down the Hill? Might be a more sensible option that ending your Camino by falling.
 
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VdlP (2020)
#15
The coffee caravan will probably have posters with taxi numbers, and as I recall there were plenty posted up around that area. You just need to work out what that location is called in Spanish!

On the road below the Military Radio Mast! (I think that's what it is)
 
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
#16
The coffee caravan will probably have posters with taxi numbers
I have prepared this dialogue.

Please speak to the taxi company for me. Please say:
I am on the road below the Military Radio Mast. I wish to go to Molinaseca. What will the cost be?
Thank you.


And an online translation service suggests.

Por favor, hable con la compañía de taxis para mí. Por favor di:
Estoy en la carretera por debajo del mástil de Radio Militar. Quiero ir a Molinaseca.
¿Cuál será el costo?
Gracias.

@Robo , thanks again
 

stgcph

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
#17
The Molinaseca descent is indeed challenging, on the other hand that stretch is one of the most beautiful. If you feel fit and well you should do it, but I would advice against it if it rains. And be prepared that it will take some time. As far as I remember it took me close to 5½ hours from Cruz de Ferro.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#18
that stretch is one of the most beautiful
Quite right. With Street View I certainly got a sense of that, and could see ? Ponferrada in the distance. I hope for a very fine clear day when I am there, about 20 October 2017 (edited to show 2017, not 2018 as originally)
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
#19
I have prepared this dialogue.

Please speak to the taxi company for me. Please say:
I am on the road below the Military Radio Mast. I wish to go to Molinaseca. What will the cost be?
Thank you.


And an online translation service suggests.

Por favor, hable con la compañía de taxis para mí. Por favor di:
Estoy en la carretera por debajo del mástil de Radio Militar. Quiero ir a Molinaseca.
¿Cuál será el costo?
Gracias.

@Robo , thanks again
¿Cuál será el costo? is not the common way in Spain to ask about the cost. Say better ¿Cuanto cuesta? or simply ¿Cuanto?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Part walked / part cycled September 2014 SJPdP to SdC
Walked SJPdP to SdC summer 2017
#20
This year, we took the road down to Molinaesca (from the last village before you get there - I forget the name). Having come down some of the way on the path, the road was infinitely preferable. The traffic was light and so long as you follow your rules I think the road is safe. It was a little longer but a much, much easier walk.

We also took the road route down to Portomarin. Given that the other route is marked as dangerous (or something similar), it seemed crazy not to! Same applies to the descent down to Roncessvalles.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Coast - March 2019
Camino(s) past & future
March-April,2016 finished
March 2019 the Portugal Coastal Route
#23
Thanks for the suggestion. I have two and may not be using them properly.

My experiences are of loose rubble slipping under my feet, even though taking slow short deliberate steps, causing a sudden fall. And while normally quite agile on my feet when walking I find, once the feet are slipping, nothing I do can control the consequences.

The anxiety I have is about my condition called acute benign positional vertigo. The last episode was more than 15 years ago and laid me up for 10 days in bed just looking straight ahead. There is no cure following an episode: only meds to relieve the extreme nausea caused when the head moves.

And it is anxiety and/or tiredness together with a sudden head movement that can start another episode.

So hence my desire to avoid situations in the middle of nowhere ...
There are several YouTube videos on the use of trekking poles I found them use full and will not be without them.
 

backpack45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vezelay (2017, in progress); Primitivo & Norte; Geneva/LePuy; Arles; Portuguese; Francés + more
#24
I understand your concern. My balance is not what it used to be and I find I have become more concerned about falling as I age (I think because of all the things I have heard about how badly it can go) In reality I have never fallen going downhill; I tend to fall flat on my face when I am distracted and stumble over something innocuous like a dip in the pavement. However, I find it very important to not stiffen up when going downhill--but to remember to plant my heels first, keep my body relaxed, and keep my knees bent. And I love my hiking poles.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (April/May 2015)
Frances (May/June 2017)
Planning Le Puy to SJPDP (August/September 2018)
#25
Hi, I have attached some photos I took this June of the worst parts of the path between Manjarin and Molinaseca. I hope they help with your planning. For some odd reason, I took photos of the Molinaseca taxi advertisements as well, so the numbers are below. :)

For us, the only option for food after Foncebadon was Acebo. We never saw a coffee caravan. We saw a couple of signs for a bar after Manjarin (Manjarin was completely deserted when we went through). After the second sign that promised "Bar 1 km", I counted the steps. At around 1000, we arrived at the top of the hill and near a tower. There was no bar. @Robo could this be the place where the coffee caravan normally is? We were walking during a heat wave so we were so grateful that we had refilled our water bottles at the watering hole next to the path after Manjarin.

I took these photos with this forum in mind because someone who was blind was considering walking the Camino. Coincidentally, while we were sitting by the bridge in Molinaseca a blind woman came walking in with her pack on (very odd coincidence!). I don't know if she took the road or the path, but somehow she made it down that mountain.

Good luck and Buen Camino!
EDIT: The only traffic we saw on the road were a bike team, a couple of their support crew in vans, and a few cars.
Taxi Molinaseca.JPG
 

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Camino(s) past & future
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#26
I find it very important to not stiffen up when going downhill--but to remember to plant my heels first, keep my body relaxed, and keep my knees bent
I know the feeling. When walking, if my foot strikes something I have unconsciously perfected a little jig to keep moving forward and stay upright. But that only works on level (or nearly so) surfaces. And for descents, the steeper the grade the shorter the steps (the same for ascents). Thank you.


The only traffic we saw on the road were a bike team, a couple of their support crew in vans, and a few cars.
Thanks for the pics. In path4.jpg you've nailed the descent I could see in street view and which had me start this thread. The smooth rocky outcrops do not fill me with joy either, specially if wet.

Your observations on traffic volume mirror what I was saw on Street View (taken August 2012). Thank you.
 

TaijiPilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011), Camino Frances (2015), Camino Ingles (2017), Camino Muxia (2017)
#27
Background

In April 2016 I walked from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Estella-Lizzara.

During that jaunt I encountered only one really steep descent on unsealed (loose rubble) surfaces. This was the first 900 metres or so from Alto del Perdon towards Uterga. I dreaded the surface as I find the thought (fear) of having my feet slip from under me often gives rise to it actually happening.

In two weeks I return to Estella-Lizzara to continue westwards. And wish to avoid really steep descents on rubble (unsealed) surfaces.

Molinaseca

My research suggests the descent into Molinaseca has several such sections. While the average gradient is 10%, my research suggests some sections of this 12 km stretch are much steeper. Using Street View (images taken August 2012) I can see sections that have a dedicated (and well sealed) paths and sections that use of the nearby sealed road. And I can see at least one really really steep descent on rubble. And a thread from 2013 suggests several others.

My questions re Molinaseca

Would I be safer taking to the road?

(I know to walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic - except when going around left hand bends against embankments, when I would cross to the outside of the bend well in advance).

Or should I take public transport from Astorga?

Portomarin

In 2010 I negotiated this descent when it was exposed, but rutted, clay or similar. I understand the exact route has been moved a little since then.

My questions re Portomarin

Is this descent still steep on an exposed surface?

If so, can I safely take the road?

Any other steep descents on unsealed surfaces?

Any other things to think about on this topic?

Is there any other advice for me, por favor?
In Sept 2011, I walked the section from Acebo to Molineseca and hated every minute, including getting lost. In June 2015, I walked down the road... very carefully, and was glad. At that point I was leading a group of 6 pilgrims, one of whom was ill and one who had bad knees. Based on your conditions, I think it is safer to take a taxi.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
#30
May I also suggest that your footwear can also be a contributor to slippage and ankle turning on 'steep, rocky and unstable descents'. Personally, I always wear my Hiking Boots on such surfaces (I leave my lighter footwear for the Meseta and the miles of pavement walking)....and, I always make sure, that prior to departure on my walks and on the Camino, that the soles have good 'grip' and are in excellent condition.....just my two cents worth for today :) :)
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#32
Well, that just goes to show how different we are.... I loved every minute of it and as I walked from Rabanal del Camino there were a lot of them (minutes I mean ;))
Me too. Last year I walked from El Ganso to Molinaseca on a clear and cool October day. I loved that long descent to Molinaseca. It helped me calm down and regain some sense of perspective after my anger at the appalling mess that the Cruz de Ferro has become. However, I would have to agree that it is one of the few genuinely difficult stretches of the Camino Frances underfoot and I can well understand people choosing to walk the road instead.
 
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C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
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Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
#33
Take the road instead of the path when the rocky part of the path from Manjarin to El Acebo begins. At that strech I learnt that my firsthelp equipment should not be in the bottom of my backpack some years ago. Since then I took the road. Worse than the descent from Alto de Perdon.
Be aware that if walking on the roads in Spain you ought to wear some reflective clothes or material¡
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#35
Take your time in the swimming pool at the new albergue in El Ganso
Oh, to stay forever in a (warm/hot ) swimming pool, especially in late October, taking in the views with a serving wench (preferably blonde, but any colour and age may apply) bringing a never ending supply of complimentary tapas and sangria.

However one needs must move forward to the climax of arrival at SdC and again at Muxia / Finisterra.

Kia kaha
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF, June 2012
CF, July 2012
CF, September 2016
Camino Primitivo, May 2017, followed by Camino Frances, late May, 2017
#37
In September 2016 I walked the trail down to Molinaseca. In June 2017 I walked the roadway into Molinaseca. Although the trail is tough I will NEVER walk that road again. When I walk this piece of the Camino again I will break up the Rabanal to Molinaseca trek with a stop in el Acebo.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (April/May 2015)
Frances (May/June 2017)
Planning Le Puy to SJPDP (August/September 2018)
#38
View attachment 36341 View attachment 36341
Exactly!
Take your time in the swimming pool at the new albergue in El Ganso and enjoy the evening views from it! :)
Oh, to stay forever in a (warm/hot ) swimming pool, especially in late October, taking in the views with a serving wench (preferably blonde, but any colour and age may apply) bringing a never ending supply of complimentary tapas and sangria.

However one needs must move forward to the climax of arrival at SdC and again at Muxia / Finisterra.

Kia kaha
We did not see any albergues with pools in El Gonso and definitely no wenches. A pool would have been great as it was extremely hot while we were there! I think you probably meant Acebo??

However, even though it did not have a pool, the place we stayed in El Ganso was very memorable! We stayed at Apartments Gabino – it was wonderful! The breakfast and dinner were excellent, and they also had laundry facilities, a small store, and kitchen facilities in each apartment.

The extremely kind and gracious family who operate the apartments also run an albergue down the street which looked nice. http://hostelgabino.com/ I highly recommend the apartments.

There is a bar in town called The Cowboy Bar, but my guess is the old guy who runs the place would not appreciate being called a serving wench.
El Ganso.JPG
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#39
We did not see any albergues with pools in El Gonso and definitely no wenches. A pool would have been great as it was extremely hot while we were there! I think you probably meant Acebo??
...
Of course you are right, I meant El Acebo. Thank you!
I corrected my post.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Astorga - SdC, August/September 2017
#40
I just completed Astorga to Santiago at the end of August/beginning of September and it's interesting because those two places you mentioned stand out to me as being particularly difficult descents, along with the section just before Triacastela. I had problems with both of my knees and I remember the descent from Rabanal de Camino to Molinaseca in particular. It was very rocky in some sections, with a lot of loose rock so you had to be quite vigilant so as to avoid turning your ankle. All I can say is thank God for my walking sticks. Just before Portomarin there is a fork in the road and a sign describing two options. One was longer, so I opted for the shorter route even though it described the last descent as dangerous with red X's. I was just so tired by that point almost walking 30 km that day that I chose the more dangerous route. The last part is almost a tunnel of rock and very steep and slippery, is the only way I can describe it. I basically had to use both hands to try to squeeze myself through some sections. I will try to attach a photo. I would definitely recommend choosing the longer route before Portomarin if you can.
 

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Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#41
We split the walk from Rabanal to Acebo and then Acebo to Ponferrada. We did this because we were concerned abt getting tired and knowing we would be braking as we walked downhill. It was a good decision! It was the hardest part of the trip for us! We walked the first part to Acebo in a blizzard so we were advised by the proprietor to stick to the road. The next day we walked down from Acebo and started on the path. We opted quickly to take the road! The road is narrow! There are a few hairpin turns like one would see in the alps. If you are careful, anticipate when to cross over for the curbs as you described (and as we also did)it is doable. When we walked the downhill part, the trail still had some snow and was slippery! The road was mostly dry and had better traction.
 

Gillyweb

Active Member
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Villafranca - Santiago (2013)
SJPP - Santiago (2014)
Portugues (2017)
#42
The coffee caravan will probably have posters with taxi numbers, and as I recall there were plenty posted up around that area. You just need to work out what that location is called in Spanish!

On the road below the Military Radio Mast! (I think that's what it is)
I remember taking a photo of that radio mast while sitting by the coffee caravan and wondering how I could possibly be so close to an aerial with absolutely no telephone signal !!
 

Gillyweb

Active Member
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SJPP - Santiago (2014)
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#43
Exactly!
Take your time in the swimming pool at the new albergue in El Acebo and enjoy the evening views from it! :)
Ah - that Albergue had just opened when I walked through in 2014. The pool was heaven sent. Not only that, 7 of us who had met and walked together from Orisson, but eventually lost each other back in Burgos, all met there by chance that night and stayed together from there till the end. It's a really lovely spot and a very sensible stopping point.
 

JoP

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
#44
Thanks for the suggestion. I have two and may not be using them properly.

My experiences are of loose rubble slipping under my feet, even though taking slow short deliberate steps, causing a sudden fall. And while normally quite agile on my feet when walking I find, once the feet are slipping, nothing I do can control the consequences.

The anxiety I have is about my condition called acute benign positional vertigo. The last episode was more than 15 years ago and laid me up for 10 days in bed just looking straight ahead. There is no cure following an episode: only meds to relieve the extreme nausea caused when the head moves.

And it is anxiety and/or tiredness together with a sudden head movement that can start another episode.

So hence my desire to avoid situations in the middle of nowhere ...

I also had vertigo a few years ago - I don't know whether it was your sort - and went to my GP who manipulated my neck somehow (and also sorted out my ear, which was blocked!). I had a really unpleasant weekend but since then have only had one very mild episode. I know how you feel though .... it's very unpleasant. It just so happened that this was something that my GP was interested in, but I would advise that whoever manipulates your neck is experienced in the technique.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
#45
Background

In April 2016 I walked from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Estella-Lizzara.

During that jaunt I encountered only one really steep descent on unsealed (loose rubble) surfaces. This was the first 900 metres or so from Alto del Perdon towards Uterga. I dreaded the surface as I find the thought (fear) of having my feet slip from under me often gives rise to it actually happening.

In two weeks I return to Estella-Lizzara to continue westwards. And wish to avoid really steep descents on rubble (unsealed) surfaces.

Molinaseca

My research suggests the descent into Molinaseca has several such sections. While the average gradient is 10%, my research suggests some sections of this 12 km stretch are much steeper. Using Street View (images taken August 2012) I can see sections that have a dedicated (and well sealed) paths and sections that use of the nearby sealed road. And I can see at least one really really steep descent on rubble. And a thread from 2013 suggests several others.

My questions re Molinaseca

Would I be safer taking to the road?

(I know to walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic - except when going around left hand bends against embankments, when I would cross to the outside of the bend well in advance).

Or should I take public transport from Astorga?

Portomarin

In 2010 I negotiated this descent when it was exposed, but rutted, clay or similar. I understand the exact route has been moved a little since then.

My questions re Portomarin

Is this descent still steep on an exposed surface?

If so, can I safely take the road?

Any other steep descents on unsealed surfaces?

Any other things to think about on this topic?

Is there any other advice for me, por favor?
I don't know about Portomarín. First time I was there the trail took me in a different way to my second which was different again to my third. On the third, I missed the turn that is apparently a bit steep and walked down the road. Molinaseca is not so much rubble as hard bedrock that can be slippery. But nothing on the camino, in my opinion, is as scary as the descent from Perdon. If you can handle that, you can handle anything
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#46
Thanks to all who contributed above. On the way in October 2017.

Portomarin descent

Found all the signs for the less steep descent, thank you. And found I was the only one of my cohort who followed them!!

Molinaseca descent

Got serious tummy upset in Leon and still suffering two days later at Hospital de Orbigo. The intention was to reach Rabanal the next day. On arrival at Astorga felt faint in the Cathedral and immediately booked into the nearby hotel. After a light dinner and full breakfast felt much better. After a tour of the town, in particular the never lived-in and absolutely marvellous, Anton Gaudi designed, Bishop's residence, took a bus to Ponferrada and the next day a short hop to Cacabelos. From there six days to the Cathedral Church of Saint James.

In short I never went near this, much dreaded by me, descent.

Tricastela descent

The signage after Fonfria (about 1,300 m asl) made it clear the path to Tricastela (about 700 m asl) was about 2.5 km shorter than the road. So it was no brainer. The views were marvellous. The steepness of the descent, and the surface, less so.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#47
Nobody seems to have suggested extending the length of your poles before you set off down hill so you don't have to lean forward so much.

The goat track (in places) down into Molinaseca can be a pig, just take it slowly.

Try not to take transport from Astorga as you'll miss out on Rabanal (does the guy with the eagle still hang out just before) and some fine views although the walk out of Rabanal to Foncebadon can be a bit trying.

A good place to stay in Molinaseca is La Casa del Reloj - family run sadly the old lady who ran it died a couple of years ago.
 
Last edited:

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#48
Hola @AlwynWellington , can't say I have less than happy memories of the walk into Portomarin - apart from having to hang on to my hat with the 20-30 km winds whilst crossing the river.
Totally agree about the Alto del Perdon - really needed to keep eyes open and tread carefully.

Molinaseca (or generally all the way from the Cruz de Ferro) - I have both walked and cycled this section of the Camino and totally advise against the road if you are walking. Whilst its a more even surface there are some steep sections, but even more importantly there are virtually no "shoulders" (at the side of the road) for one to walk facing the on-coming traffic, also there a quite a few blind corners were the drivers would not see you until they were virtually on you.
The walkers Camino (especially from Manjarin to Acebo) has some steep, rocky sections were again you do really need to keep eyes peeled and tread carefully. If its wet those rocks would be extra slippery. \
Cheers for now, Buen Camino

We have descended on the road twice from Acebo to Molinesca. Now we have done it both times in March when the traffic is not that heavy! The path was still snowy and slippery.

It is doable if you are careful! There are some parts that are tight and sometimes we waited for traffic to pass before we negotiated those parts. If you keep your wits about you and stay focused on the road you should be alright.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#49
Thanks for the suggestion. I have two and may not be using them properly.

My experiences are of loose rubble slipping under my feet, even though taking slow short deliberate steps, causing a sudden fall. And while normally quite agile on my feet when walking I find, once the feet are slipping, nothing I do can control the consequences.

The anxiety I have is about my condition called acute benign positional vertigo. The last episode was more than 15 years ago and laid me up for 10 days in bed just looking straight ahead. There is no cure following an episode: only meds to relieve the extreme nausea caused when the head moves.

And it is anxiety and/or tiredness together with a sudden head movement that can start another episode.

So hence my desire to avoid situations in the middle of nowhere ...
Hi, Alwyn....

One technique to help with loose rubble is to plant the back edge of the heel of your shoe, in deliberate fashion, prior to following thru with the step. Step down onto the heel plant-then follow thru, heel plant-then follow thru, heel plant - then follow thru, etc.

What occurs is that the weight of the step is focused onto a narrow point of impact which forces a more solid contact through the debris to the surface below. With a normal foot plant, the shoe or boot has a broad contact on top of the debris, making it prone to 'floating' on top of the debris 'ball bearings' which creates the risk of the shoe slipping.

This technique does create a bit of a slower pace, but a slower pace in loose debris is needed anyway. It can also be more tiring to the lower leg muscles and tendons, so more frequent breaks are needed to prevent premature fatiguing of those structures which can contribute to risks of slipping. Combined with your trekking poles, the deliberate heel planting technique has a tremendous reduction to the risk of slipping.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#50
Well, that just goes to show how different we are.... I loved every minute of it and as I walked from Rabanal del Camino there were a lot of them (minutes I mean ;))
I, too, absolutely loved the whole stretch and has provided some of my most vivid memories from Foncebadon up to Cruz de Ferro and on to Acebo, where I spent the night. The next day down to Molinaseca was enchanting, walking on lots of bluestone trails and I loved seeing Ponferrada in the distance nestled down in the valley. I went in early May and the groupings of profuse flowers in yellow, white, pink and lavendar took my breathe away, and the mountain vistas...ooh la la!
That said, I did not have to walk in any wet conditions.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#51
Ah - that Albergue had just opened when I walked through in 2014. The pool was heaven sent. Not only that, 7 of us who had met and walked together from Orisson, but eventually lost each other back in Burgos, all met there by chance that night and stayed together from there till the end. It's a really lovely spot and a very sensible stopping point.
I loved that beautiful place, but the pool was not yet open in early May.
 

linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 05/17 brazo roto Portomarín
Francés 09/17 SJPdP - Santiago
(Portuguese: 09/18)
#52
@AlwynWellington Do you have google translate on your phone? You can download the Spanish dictionary for offline use. You can speak into it and it will translate to Spanish. The camera will also translate text in real time from Spanish to English. You can simply show the phone to someone and let the read the screen. On my iPhone, the translated text is bigger when it I turn 90° landscape mode. You can save translated phrases for later use. Give it a try at home before you go.

Keep your sentences simple "I would like a taxi to Molinesca, Quisiera un taxi para Molinaseca". "How much does it cost?, ¿Cuánto cuesta?".:D:cool:
 
#54
Background

In April 2016 I walked from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Estella-Lizzara.

During that jaunt I encountered only one really steep descent on unsealed (loose rubble) surfaces. This was the first 900 metres or so from Alto del Perdon towards Uterga. I dreaded the surface as I find the thought (fear) of having my feet slip from under me often gives rise to it actually happening.

In two weeks I return to Estella-Lizzara to continue westwards. And wish to avoid really steep descents on rubble (unsealed) surfaces.

Molinaseca

My research suggests the descent into Molinaseca has several such sections. While the average gradient is 10%, my research suggests some sections of this 12 km stretch are much steeper. Using Street View (images taken August 2012) I can see sections that have a dedicated (and well sealed) paths and sections that use of the nearby sealed road. And I can see at least one really really steep descent on rubble. And a thread from 2013 suggests several others.

My questions re Molinaseca

Would I be safer taking to the road?

(I know to walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic - except when going around left hand bends against embankments, when I would cross to the outside of the bend well in advance).

Or should I take public transport from Astorga?

Portomarin

In 2010 I negotiated this descent when it was exposed, but rutted, clay or similar. I understand the exact route has been moved a little since then.

My questions re Portomarin

Is this descent still steep on an exposed surface?

If so, can I safely take the road?

Any other steep descents on unsealed surfaces?

Any other things to think about on this topic?

Is there any other advice for me, por favor?


Loose stones and light shoes the problem. A short stout stick and boots No Problems
 
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
#55
@as gaillimh , kia ora (thank you, greetings)

In my working live I often had to make judgements, having identified an issue, of whether to eliminate, minimise or insure.

In my case my judgement was to eliminate (take a bus)

There have been several posts above about minimising.

Your was to wear boots. For a relative short stretch (down from Cruz Ferro or earlier, dowm form Alto del Perdon) that may be a good solution. But is seems untested. And for the other 780 km from Saint-Jean it may be a most unwise action.

One other was, whatever your footwear, to dig in the heel thus minimising the area that was placed on the loose rubble.

Sittting at my desk my preference is to dig in my heels.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#56
Sittting at my desk my preference is to dig in my heels.
There are many pithy lessons that people bring home from the Camino. "One step after another will get you there." "Be open to help and help will come." "Take care of your feet." I'm sure you can think of many more.

Now we learn that digging in our heels will get us through the difficult downhills. I worry that "Dig in your heels" will be a new lesson for dealing with difficulties. Is that really an approach we want to learn on the Camino and take with us into the rest of our lives, sitting at our desks afterwards and having to deal with recalcitrant clients?

[In case it wasn't obvious, I have taken the quote above completely out of context and this post is meant as a bit of humour.]
 

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