Naked hike over a Tarragonan ridge.

We set out from the car and had to follow the motorway for a short way on a side trail, before we were able to turn off and head up the dry valley. I stripped off and Polly kept her fur coat on. Locating the path junction we started the steep climb out of the valley up onto the ridge above. Huge rocks loomed as we passed a couple of natural caves, guarded by spiky grass. My asthma was giving me trouble as the steepness of the route was making me breathe harder, and I had the thought that the ascent would never end, and this so early in the day. We continued gaining height steadily, at first the high ridges opposite looked far above us but, panting heavily, we slowly began to match them.

Finally we crested the ridge, with some relief and were able to look around and take in the view. The mediterranean now far below glistening grey and blue. On every other side, both grassy and sharp crestellated ridges tumbled toward the sea. We still had more height to gain, but the grunt was over, and the rest of the walk was undulating over the ridge. We descended to a col trying to avoid too many scratches from the spiky grass and sharp bushes which grew across the high and dry landscape. Stopping for a brief brunch and to admire the silent surroundings, we thankfully slaked our thirst from the water bottles. I’d long since given up on finding puddles for Polly to drink from and carried a lightweight and cleverly collapsible rubber water bowl for her. She came over as soon as she saw me pull it from the rucksack, and I had to struggle to get the water bottle open while she tried to lick the dry container impatiently. We were both feeling the heat and the exertion, even though we were lucky with the weather, as there was a layer of overcast clouds keeping the worst of the summer sun off our backs and heads.

We continued along the ridge until we located the path which led down to the spring at the head of the valley below us. The track now became quite faint and we lost it to struggle through the sharp bushes. I had to free Polly from some triffid-like brambles which her harness became tangled in and my lower legs were being cut and scratched at the same time. For this last stretch to the spring I put my shorts back on, as the battle with the sharp undergrowth was becoming a little dangerous… Reaching the spring was a huge relief as we were able to sit down on the stone bench surrounding it and slake our thirsts. The crystal clear mountain spring poured from the stone as a life-preserving oasis amidst the curtain of dry heights surrounding us. Looking up at the serrated ridges above, one could easily imagine a dragon flying out between them, flapping it’s ancient wings, perched perhaps on an outcrop to survey it’s rocky mythereal domain below.

The clear cool water refreshed us and renewed our energies. Polly immediately found a stick for me to throw and looked up hopefully at me. I told her she must be joking and we set off down the valley, following the narrow but easy trail and the remnants of bits of stream, with the ridge of the morning’s hike looking down at us from high above. We snaked our way down, steadily losing height, the ridges surrounding us gaining height as we descended. Finally we reached the bottom of the valley, and a welcome muddy pool for Polly to lie in before the last hot and exhausting stretch up and down the gravel track back to the car. Then home for a refreshing cup of tea!


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