GR221 Day 3: Estellencs to I’m Going To Regret This Camp
Miles hiked: 18.75-ish
Total miles: 39.75-ish
Baguettes consumed: 1
I woke up at 5am. Nah, too early. I woke up at 7am. Just right. At some point in the night I had realized that I needed to pick up the pace if I wanted a shot at finishing this route before catching my flight in six days, so I didn’t dilly dally with my morning prep. Granola dutifully inhaled, damp hiking clothes thrown on, bag packed well before stuff could dry out, set out to crush miles. 7:40am.
My first steps were back onto Ma-10 for about one km before turning right, uphill into a forest of pine. The sky was overcast, the air cool and humid, hence the dampness. Things were uneventful from there as I followed the well-signed trail on a mostly level traverse around a slope or two. There were occasional views of the ocean, way down there, and jagged coastline, but mostly just easy cruising through terraces reclaimed by the forest. The sound of waves crashing competed with buzzing chainsaw for auditory dominance.
Some fancy homes came and went, but soon I was carried steeply down on a stony track into Banyalbufar. It seemed like a nice enough place, but I didn’t need anything and it was still early, so I abruptly bounced up out of there to cut inland.
A super steep road toured me among homes that I’ll never be able to afford, views ever improving, legs ever tiring. Concrete transitioned to ancient coble at the crest, then maintained a gradual downhill trajectory through more oak and pine. A school group enjoyed a chaotic lunch break and gave me odd looks as I navigated between each clique. Esporles was quick in coming after them, and I made it just in time for lunch.
I got everything I needed in the first grocery store I found. Cookies, tomatoes, beets, a banana, one big baguette, and two small baguettes. I demolished a few of these things right outside as a touch of sprinkle fell from the sky. Not worried enough about that to do anything about it, I followed pavement through fields out of town and all the way up to Coll de sa Basseta. The aroma from small wood fires dotting the terraces combined with the hazy sky to give me a wintery vibe. A Californian winter, that is. Nothing extreme.
For some reason, the coll was as far as the trail markers made it, so the route finding was a bit iffy from there. Fortunately, a German couple I’d been leapfrogging were already coming back from the wrong way, so I led them up the right way.
A spooky forest of holm oak persisted as we climbed up, then along, then down a rocky hill. Ancient sitjas (stone circle things that look like sacrifice alters) covered in moss really gave me the heebie-jeebies. A big effort on sketchy trail put me on top of sa Comuna where I finally spread my quilt to dry a bit. Views to Palma in the east. I learned that the German dude had his eye on the three big trails in the US, which explained the good looking gear he was carrying.
I left the two of them up there, never to be seen again maybe, and flew downhill on mostly good path into Valldemossa. The place deserved much more attention than I gave it. It really is beautiful with cool old architecture and a big church(?) thing. I was more interested in the baño, which was superb. I got judged hard by creaking tourists as I washed my face and filled my nasty bottles in the sink.
Job done, I found the road to take me back into the mountains, now looking for a place to sleep in a few miles. Walking up a valley filled with yet more olive terraces, the sun finally broke through, bathing the scenery and my soul in glorious afternoon light. So it was with good spirits that I tackled the last climb of the day.
Giant limestone cliffs rimmed the edge of the valley, and the steepest road I’ve ever put feet on lifted me to meet them in tight switchbacks. So much for my wash in Valldemossa. I was dripping by the time I reached a shut refugi, most of the way to where I hoped to make camp.
The terrain was so rocky from there that finding some place flat was going to be an issue. I don’t need much to cowboy camp, but the forecast was looking iffy so I wanted to find a sheltered spot where I could hammer in some stakes if needed. No suerte. I found a great view, but there is zero chance I can get my tarp pitched if it starts raining. So cowboy it is!
Big effort, big appetite. I almost hiked three of ten total stages today to put me back in good standing. I made vanish the big baguette among many other victims to keep my stomach right there with me. My not-yet hiker hunger kept me busy while watching a colorful sunset.
Clouds blow across peaks around me, though no precipitation so far. It’s scheduled to show up at 7am tomorrow so I plan to get moving before that. If it shows up early? I’m going to regret not stopping at the refugi.