At first the rain wasn’t so bad. As we started uphill on small roads, we talked ourselves back into an optimistic mood. In the distance we could hear some loud mooing from what sounded like some very agitated cows. I made some dumb joke about how I hoped we weren’t walking into the middle of something.
Which of course we were.
One very distressed calf had managed to find its way onto the far side of its designated fence, and its mother, who happened to have a very large set of horns, was none too pleased about this. She was even less pleased about the random humans wandering about in the vicinity of her calf.
Suddenly following the signs into that field seemed like maybe not such a good plan.
After a minute of hoping the situation might resolve itself, and it not doing so, Carl ventured the notion of going to talk to the farmer. So we slogged back down a chunk of trail, and across and up another hill, until we managed to find the farmer in his truck about to drive off. (thank gods we didn’t dither around any longer).
We explained the situation with the calf and mother and why it gave us pause about crossing the field, and he immediately hopped out of his truck and thanked us for letting him know. He said he had wondered what had gotten into the cows but “figured it must have been the sheep again” (thus planting in my imagination an entire saga of livestock rivalry). He pointed us to an alternate route, gave us some good information about the hike ahead, and saw us on our way quite genially before going to sort out the fence related custody problems.
“Shame about the weather,” he said. “The views would be quite lovely otherwise.”
Yes, we nodded.
“Oh, and you might see some horses up there. If they give you any bother, just raise one of your sticks at ’em and give ’em a shout and they’ll clear right off,” he called after us as we set out up the trail.
Of course, five minutes later…
Happily, the horses seemed completely unbothered by our intrusion on their territory, so we just slowly walked up and past them without any clattering of sticks. The one with the white nose gave Carl a rather thoughtful snuffle on the shoulder as he passed by, but all went off without incident.
And then the farm road ended.
And the rain got worse.
We staggered from waymark to waymark, crawling along a fence eeriely similar to the one we followed during the worst uphill sections of our second day in the Cahas.
At one point we came across a great rock…
But though it was dry and free of wind, it wasn’t getting us any closer to the actual warm beds that awaited us on the far side of the…. ridge/mountain… so we pressed on.
More pretty landscape obscured by mist
Carl, grinning through his teeth and plotting my death if I stop our progress again and therefore keep us in this rain a minute longer than necessary
Finally, finally, after at least an hour of slogging (in which two older gents passed us, having come from farther away and en route to the same endpoint), we crested the ridge and began to descend. The rain lightened, and we began to catch a glimpse of our destination.
Gougane Barra, through the clouds
Still more water to deal with
Really? Really guys? This waymark provoked a perhaps unreasoning amount of rage in both Carl and I
Our destination draws closer
Omigod that’s our hotel down there the tan building on the right ahhhhhh
Styles of stile, contrasted, and yes I do still think stile puns are funny
SO CLOSE NOW
Even Billy-Sheep Gruff and Grufflet in Training couldn’t stop us now
Suffice it to say we staggered our asses off the mountain alive but soaked to the skin, and of the two routes we could have taken to reach the hotel at the very end we still aren’t in agreement as to which was correct. But we made it, and the welcome at the Gougane Barra hotel was everything we could have ever hoped for. For the record, the staff there are amazing, and they took incredible care of us, including providing a superb three course meal and not remarking on the fact that we looked like wild-haired derelicts in the middle of their very fancy restaurant as we shoved the lovingly prepared food relentlessly down our gullets.
And now it was time for a rest day.