Camping,  Hiking,  Hiking in Europe,  Hiking in Pyrenees,  Hiking in Spain

We finally can see the oceancoast! Hiking multinational area on GR11 Day 16 in Navarra, Spain

For that day we planned to get to the village Bera and Zalain to do some grocery shopping as we began lacking essential food supplies and still had 2 days left of the trail. It was Sunday so we knew that there was a risk of not finding any open shops or supermarkets open but at least if we came early before 13pm there was some chance. So overall we had to do around 14kms that day getting down first and then coming up away from the village.

That night wasn’t very comfortable because of uneven terrain and thus we didn’t get enough recovering sleep. In addition, there were many disturbing sounds from the farmhouse nearby – cattle and dogs barking during the night. But the views from our place were scenic in the beautiful morning light. And we weren’t disturbed by any wild animals like boars the footprints of which we seemed to find.

So we woke up at 6.30am, had our breakfast and were out on the trail at 8am which was one of the record times for us. We were hiking along the slope for some time and the path was more or less flat going in the shaded forest. Then we had the first uphill to do of 100m or so and it was already partly in the sun. We walked by some horse pastures and several white buildings looking like an albergue with a restaurant. We were getting close to the French border and there the climb got quite steep for a km or so. Then we came out to the gravel car road where were parked several camper vans and overall we began to meet many people.

When we arrived at the border we saw a lot of movement there, we think it was mostly because it was weekend and Sunday morning. There was located a restaurant and a guest house and a big parking lot. Also we saw several people with huge binoculars there at the viewpoint. On the info board it was said that this was a good spot due to low elevation to observe the flocks of a lot of different birds migrating from the North of Europe to the South of Spain from the mid-August till November. We thought it was a good idea to come there specifically for that reason one other time in autumn and take some photocamera gear with us.

Then the gravel car road continued doing small ups and downs but going mostly downhill. On that part we met a big amount of people saying hello to us in different manners and languages. A lot of them were French, some Spanish and several Euskara speaking people which were the hardest to understand as we didn’t know that language at all. So it was the curious place to observe so many different cultures.

The last couple of days we were cherishing the idea of seeing the ocean coast from some top of the hill but it wasn’t happening because of foggy conditions or lower altitudes we were passing by. But we still hoped that sooner or later it was going to happen.

We came to the open part of the hill and some fields and could see the low clouds in the valleys below us as it usually happens in the morning. And we were wandering how the clouds choose the places where to form, it was pure magic to us that in some valleys they were present and in some not. And of course it was a joy to admire these views every single day.

Then the trail continued to follow the shaded forest road and there were few cars passing by too. We decided to skip one hill and go directly to the village instead without doing the climb and steeper downhill as we wanted to be in time before noon there.

There were many routes in that places that made us want to come there with our bikes to be able to explore it better one day as the possibilities were endless and we met many cyclists on the way too.

So the last several kilometers to the town Bera were quite easy in general with few steep road parts. It was going through the private houses and gardens and was quite picturesque and peaceful. At the entrance to the village we met the water fountain where we could fill the water bottles that we had empty.

Then we had to cross several streets before coming to the central one. There we had luck of finding small open shop with some groceries and the shop keeper was kind enough to direct us to the other bigger grocery shop that was open on Sundays. It proved the fact how important it was to ask locals for such specific questions as the maps simply don’t show any of these small shops and say that everything is closed. So we bought few things there and continued towards the other shop. There we could buy several tomatoes and fruit as well as ice cream for the snack.

We were glad that we could find everything we needed and continued to go across the town. It turned out to be quite a big one with lots of blocks and services and a big river. Then we were going along the car road for some time and had to cross the industrial area with lots of warehouses before coming out to the cycling path. It was coinciding with GR11 just for several meters but it was an interesting one because it was 120kms long starting in Pamplona and ending in Irun making it a great cycling tour option for a few days.

From there the trail directed us up and we saw that we had to do at least 300m climb and several kms of a distance. We already had our lunch break so with some fresh powers we began to conquer it. It was actually quite steep and rocky at places. But with the cool wind and lots of shade it was bearable. We met another water fountain on the way where we could wash the faces and continue going. We actually initially marked it as a potential camp spot but we could not see any possibilities there with the slope and proximity of the path.

So we had to stretch few kms further and as the trail was coming up the forest part ended and the dense fern plantations began as it typically happens closer to the tops of the hills in that places. Through the fern it was difficult to get through as it was growing very densely and with lots of spiky plants around too. So we already were getting ready to stop at the side of the road if needed, as these were the only more or less flat spots available.

As there were no water sources close we needed to continue hiking further doing lots of small ups and downs and still seeing no possibilities to camp whatsoever with the similar hilly and uneven terrain and lots of fern. All the forest areas that seemed more flat from the distance up close were all located on a bad slope.

At the end of the day we finally could spot the chunk of oceancoast in between the hills which was a very happy moment and definitely cheered us up and gave some extra powers to continue as we were already seeing our goal and it was so close.

We collected water from the fountain and went back a bit to find a place in the fern with a very bad slope still but it was the best we could do in that places. We ended up doing 4 kms more than planned and walked until 5pm while searching for the place and scouting around the fields and forests.

We had to clean up the fern a bit for the tent set up and tried to even it out as well as we could. Then all we had time for was to cook and have dinner as always but that time we had quite a lot of food to spice it up a bit like cheese, fresh tomatoes and other goodies. So when we were full we had already no powers nor desire to have a shower and so we went to bed right after and fell asleep when it was still dusk.

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