August 31, 2002

8/31/02 Hacinas

Vultures, the dead & dinosaurs

Santi and I spent the whole day traveling the countryside in look for adventure. In the morning, we climbed one of the mountain peaks I can see from the house. We parked the car in Ahedo, at the base of the mountain. The weather was perfect, the sky was blue and the temperature wasn't oo hot at all. A good thing too, because in some places the walking seemed almost vertical, really taking an effort to put one foot in front of the other. We actually met an older woman who was on her way back down the mountain after here morning hike.

A long climb up from the village

Near the top, the vultures began to circle, over a dozen. Santi found a feather and it was huge, at least 18" long. Santi says the birds are endangered because they can't find enough to eat. Their stomachs can't handle fresh meat, but they need it several days dead to digest properly. With modern ranching and farming, there just isn't any dead livestock for them to eat.

The mountain is named San Carlos because of the battlements that were built on the top during the Carlist Wars of the 19th century. The vista was breathtaking. On the east side, we could see the patchwork of farms up and down the valley. On the other side was the wild rangeland where the film "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" with Clint Eastwood was filmed. We took a break at the north end of the ridgeline (~5200'), with the red tile roofs of Conteiras far below.

Although not as strenuous, the climb down was tricky because with the steep incline, it would be easy to slip and tumble all the way down. We caught up to the elderly woman from this morning, resting under the shade of a tree. She proudly showed us her find of the day, a huge pedo de lobo mushroom, the size of a bowling ball.

And a difficult climb down too

Once we got back to Salas, we had a good lunch with Amparo and Miranda. While Miranda and Santi took an afternoon siesta, Amparo and I watched "Nadie Conoce a Nadie" or "No Body Knows No One", a Spanish thriller. Well done but I still only catch a few words of dialog.

While Amparo took Miranda over to Javier's, Santi and I went out adventuring again. First, we stopped by the Necrópolis de Cuyacabras near Quintanas de la Sierra. During the Middle Ages, about 9th-10th century, Catholic churches were hidden in the mountains to protect the people from the invading Moors. On this high outcrop deep in the forest, they built a small chapel. And carved out of the surrounding bedrock, you find dozens and dozens of crude burial crypts, most for children and infants. One of the largest was just big enough for me to fit in.

Crypts carved out of the rock

While we drove to our next stopping point, I noticed many large lumber mills. Santi tells me that the lumber from this area has been well known for centuries. A lot of the great ships of the Spanish Armada were built of wood from here.

Besides wood, this whole area of Spain is known for it's huge amount of evidence of dinosaurs. In Regumiel de la Sierra, you can find both large and small dinosaur footprints. These were found in exposed bedrock in a cow pasture. My whole food was about equal to one of the toes.

Our last stop was another medieval burial crypt near Revuga. On our way home I saw many sheep and cattle out grazing, even more reminding me of how similar this area is to Oregon or Montana.

I fit!

All day, I've had this tickle in my throat I just can't shake. Javier had a fever last night, and I hope I didn't catch whatever he has because we have more adventures planned for tomorrow.