Bagging A Zero Day!
A ‘Zero Day’ is literally a day in which you do no hiking, hence you cover zero miles and make no progress towards your end goal. It can be an alien concept to some thru-hikers to have a day in the wilderness where you stay put in the same camp and don’t hike at all. But taking a day off the trail here and there to rest and recoup, usually coinciding with a town stop to make use of the facilities, is very much-needed! It’s often a chance to take long showers, eat well, catch up with journalling, and read or watch TV, whilst you let your joints rest. A ‘Zero’ also allows time for important practical tasks such as laundry and resupply, repairing any gear, or should the need arise, finding replacements.
Never ones to miss a good campsite opportunity and the chance to chill out in beautiful surroundings, we decided on a ‘rest day’ of sorts after yesterday’s long slog. Except that we decided to walk around 3 kilometres further down the road to ‘Camping Valle de Bujaruelo’, as opposed to staying put at the campsite next to Refugio Bujaruelo, for the simple fact that the new campsite had the additional facility of an on-site supermercado and we needed to resupply with food for the next 3 days.
So inherently our Zero day was really a ‘Nearo’ day, but in the big scheme of things, 3km was like a walk around the block when we were covering some 192km in less than a fortnight, so it still felt like a rest day to us!
Taking a ‘Nearo’ gave us the opportunity to take showers, do some laundry and enjoy a bottle of wine (or two!)
Wednesday 16th August 2017 – Day 6 – Refugio Bujaruelo (Campsite) to Camping Valle De Bujaruelo (€13) – ‘Time For Vino!’
Start time: 10:27. End time: 11:39. Distance: 3.6km. Ascent: 140m / Descent: 218m.
By Day 6, a ‘nearo’ was very much welcomed after some long, hard days on the trail, particularly after clambering over so many boulders yesterday and having the long ascent out of Panticosa through the Ara Valley. That meant we could wake up naturally instead of setting the alarm – a kind of luxury on a hiking holiday when we were walking to an itinerary.
Our camp spot in the field next to Refugio Bujaruelo.
As we didn’t have to vacate until 11am, we enjoyed a leisurely morning around camp. It felt great not having to rush, so we made use of the facilities and took showers again. (We never miss the opportunity on a thru-hike, as you never quite know where the next one is likely to be!) We also took advantage of being in a sunny spot and let the tent fully dry out and our sleeping bags get a good airing.
Looking onto the camping area next to Refugio Bujaruelo. The campsite sits at 1,350 metres and is near to the River Ara.
The ‘Reception’ for the campsite area. Fees are paid here. WiFi works around the campsite and Refuge and we also bought a 24-hour code for 1 Euro.
The Refuge has a wonderful Café-Bar located next door.
We left the campsite around 10:30am, both refuelled and well rested. Walking back through Bujaruelo, we saw lots of people already sunning themselves along the riverside. And why not? It was a glorious, sunny morning much as every day had been so far on the trail. I was quite excited at the thought of catching a few rays myself knowing that we would have all afternoon to laze around at camp once we got there!
Leaving the campsite, families were already enjoying the sunshine and taking a dip in the river.
Looking back onto the Roman bridge of San Nicolás de Bujaruelo.
Overall, it was a pleasant woodland walk along the river to get to our new campsite. There were a few trickier places where we had to clamber over some rocks that were a little wet and slippery, but we just had to be careful with our footing. It took us just over an hour to get there, but we stopped a few times to take photos in the beautiful wild flower meadows we that we hiked through. (If only every day could be as easy!)
Following the GR11 alongside the Rio Ara once again. What a glorious day for a walk!
Looking onto the river. There were several plunge pools along the way, ideal for swimming and cooling off.
Wandering through the wild flower meadow. Bright purple thistles were attracting the attention of several bees.
Trying to film a bee busy collecting pollen from a thistle flower.
Panorama shot taken during our riverside walk, that was more of a rock hop and scramble in places.
The scenery was still as captivating as ever!
Families were enjoying some of the plunge pools along the way.
Making our way up the bank being careful not to slip and enjoying some shade offered by the overhanging trees.
Into the woods… And almost at our new camp spot!
Having enjoyed a bar meal at the refugio last night, our excitement today was that the new campsite had a supermarket on site. We were looking forward to stocking up with lots of fresh goodies!
When we reached ‘Camping Valle de Bujaruelo’, we found the campsite was excellent. The camping area is distributed in staggered terraces, all of them with grass and with plenty of shade. They have also been done in such a way that the terraces seem to be a natural part of the valley’s hillsides. They prioritise hikers and always leave a terrace available for GR11 walkers, which we found to be busy with other people taking a ‘rest day’ like ourselves.
There are two amenities blocks, offering modern shower/ toilet facilities as well as washing machines, which meant we were able to get some laundry done. Wayne put up our standard ‘washing line’ made with dyneema cord fastened to our walking poles. We just hoped that everything would dry, as by mid-afternoon our terrace seemed to be in shade unlike the rest of the valley that was in full sunshine!
The grassed terraces provide the perfect tent pitch. (I was just slightly disappointed that our terrace was in full shade by mid-afternoon!)
So after our camp chores were done, we chilled out for the rest of the afternoon, reading kindles, and sunbathing (or trying to in between clouds and our side of the valley going in shade). We also treated ourselves to a bottle of red wine from the shop – well it would be rude not to when they were on the shelf for 6 Euros! (Quite reasonable considering the inflated prices we had paid for food resupplies on the GR20, and on the Kungsleden.)
Not compromising on comfort! When you consider every gram counts on a thru-hike when you’re carrying it, here is Wayne’s minimal towel compared to mine. (Although his extra grams come in the form of a camp chair!)
With having the shop on-site we also had access to fresh vegetables, so Wayne cooked pasta, onion, tomato and chorizo for dinner, and it was all very civilised, rather like a car camping weekend back home, especially with the addition of a second bottle of wine! (That was our limit though or we wouldn’t want to get back on the trail the next day!)
Enjoying a second bottle of wine and really making the most of some free time, even though we had a 20km+ day coming up next!
During our afternoon of leisure, we also met another English couple. They had recently retired, so had set off hiking the GR11 but in the opposite direction to us, and after completing this section their plan was to head over the border into France.
We sat for a while swapping hiker tales as like us, they had previously hiked the GR20, explored some areas of South America and done a road trip across the USA. It was hugely inspiring to listen to their hiker tales and recommendations and also great fun talking about home and comparing our experiences of the UK.
We then looked at our map and shared good wild camp spots coming up for the both of us in either direction. Gaining personal knowledge of the trail from someone who has just hiked it is invaluable – especially where the guide-book is vague or has limited information. Therefore, we now felt much more prepared in the first-hand knowledge of what lay ahead, especially in the next day or two. So our rest day of sorts was extremely useful in more ways than one!