Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hiking, or trail blazing??

Spring has come to Spain! I'm not sure if it's going to last very long but for now, we have to take advantage of the sunshine as much as we can. Last weekend we went on a hike to celebrate the end of the rain! Unfortunately the air has been really hazy so the mountains were difficult to see, but it was refreshing to get out in the fresh air and shake the winter out of our muscles.

Héctor found a route up to a tiny basilica on the top of a hill, so we decided to try it out. The beginning was quite an adventure. In Spain you can hike wherever you want, so most hikes come about when someone decides that they want to climb to the top of a certain hill, and they forge their own path up. This was reminiscent of that but we soon discovered that the path we were on was a game trail; and for a very small animal at that. While on the path we saw several different kinds of footprints. 

The one on the left I think might be from a deer, the top right might be from a badger, and the bottom right is probably a wild boar. (Disclaimer- I looked up pictures of footprints and matched them the best I could. There is a possibility that I'm incorrect about the origins of all of these footprints!)

The beginning of the hike was more of a climb directly up the side of a steep, slippery mountain filled with brambles. Héctor's arms are all scratched up to prove it. But, we did discover some cool things.

  First Héctor discovered old stone terraces, each with a cypress tree planted on it. Cypress trees are only planted in cemeteries here, so we were thinking maybe we had stumbled on an ancient cemetery of some kind. 

Then we climbed over this huge rock pile, and all the rocks had straight edges that didn't look natural. I thought that maybe it had been a rock wall at some point! I mean, look at the rock on the right. Someone definitely carved it into that "L" shape!

Then at the top of the hill, we discovered a super old almond orchard with the creepiest/coolest old trees! Some of the trees were already in bloom too. Almond and cherry trees are some of my favorite signs of spring!

Cool rock formations surround the basilica and the tiny town of Mues that is snuggled in at the bottom of the valley, sandwiched between orchards.

El Yoar, a montain that is currently on my "to climb" list for the summer, and the Basilica de San Gregorio Ostiense, which was our final destination. 

El Yoar from further away. On the left is another rock formation. This one is thought to be partially carved, but it is unknown by who or why they carved it. 

Basilica de San Gregorio Ostiense- Apparently this Basilica is one of the best examples of baroque architecture in Navarra. (Just ask their website!) Héctor's dad told us about a legend that when San Gregorio died, he told his disciples to put him on his mule that he had brought from Rome and to let it walk wherever it wanted. Wherever the mule died, they should bury him there. So on his journey from Logroño, the mule fell once close to a town called Los Arcos. Then he fell again in Mues, and once he got to the top of the hill by Mues, he fell down dead. And that is how the remains of  San Gregorio came to be buried on top of this little hill called Peñalba. (I originally heard the story from Héctor's dad, but later Héctor found this website for me that helped flesh out the details of the story. In addition to anything else you wanted to know, and maybe didn't want to know, about the life of San Gregorio. Of course it's in Spanish, but you can check it out if you're up for it!)

Mues in between almond blossoms and rock formations. 

Hopefully the warm weather continues and we can keep exploring new places close to home!

(P.S. This is my 50th post since I've started this blog!! Here's to another 50, and hopefully more!)


  1. Que fotos más bonitas!!! #1

    Te voy a llevar de trail blazing muchas más veces :-)