Last April, I went with a very good friend of mine to do a trek near my hometown. I grew up in the province of Alicante, in Southeast Spain. In a very tiny town named Xirles, 15km off the coast. My friend and I wanted to sleep at the mountain, in order to do a longer trek, and enjoy the evening. So we hiked two of the most relevant mountains in the area. Puig Campana and Mount Ponoig (Sleepy Lion in English, or “León Dormido” in Spanish).
Puig Campana is a mountain with an elevation of 1,406 m (4,613 ft). And Mount Ponoig is 1,181 m (3,874 ft). These mountains are very close to each other. From top to top, the shortest walkable distance is only 4,11km.
Legends of Puig Campana
Among the locals, there are a few stories that talk about the mountain of Puig Campana. I’ve even checked in the Wikipedia, in order to see if some match the one I remember since I was a child. But none fit, although they are very close between each other in the essence of the myth.
“When architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it. For thereby the parts are joined more firmly together.”
Viktor Frankel (Man’s Search For Meaning)
The Hiking “Drug”
If alcohol is a social lubricant, then hiking is a social binder. To go on a hike with a group of people, facilitates the forming of connections in a unique manner.
You’re out there in nature, committed to a mutual endeavor.
When we remove ourselves from our regular “habitat” (the city), and spend a period of time in nature, we respond immediately. Our body reacts to the change of environment as if we were on withdrawal from the city.
It’s very common to feel a sense of unease, in the first hours of a walk. That initial shift challenges our system, and makes us adapt our mindset to the new context.
To go through that transition with a group of people, has impacted me greatly during this year. I had the chance to go on hikes in Spain, Switzerland, Chile and Colombia.
Each time, with different groups or individuals in different contexts. These experiences have educated me on the “magic” of hiking.
During the past easter of 2017, I did with a friend of mine El Cami de Ronda (Catalan) or El Camino de Ronda (Spanish). It was a 5 days trek through the Costa Brava (Girona), to one of the most famous trekking routes of the Mediterranean.
You can start the trekking route at the North of the Girona province, in Portbou, and go until the South of the Tarragona Province, in Ulldecona. Apparently it actually goes all the way down to Malaga, in Andalusia. The difference between regions is big, and the worst one is the part of the Valencian Community, which is not signposted at all. The length of the whole route of El Cami de Ronda through Catalonia is 583 kilometers, and you could check the itinerary of the Catalan path here.