Day No. 21: Wrong side of the mountain

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As I was crossing from Spain to France, I took a detour via Andorra. The tiny country (it’s equivalent to a third of London in size) was a special place with rugged mountains enclosing one long winding road, which runs through its heart.  Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and beautiful mountains, I decided it would be a great idea to climb one and watch the sunset from the top (I do love a good sunset!).

*Just prior to attempting to climb some mountain late at night, best idea yet Kane*

Of course, I estimated that it would only take me a couple of hours to climb up and down, so I left around 4pm but as I climbed higher and higher up the mountain, I was nowhere near the top and within a few hours the sun had already started to set. At this point, I still had another third of the way to go.

Even though it was getting dark, I’m not the type to quit, so instead of turning back I decided that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to do this again and so I kept going. Things started getting a little exciting towards the top, as I had to dangle, jump and hang off rocks to pretty big drops.

I called my girlfriend being slightly worried that I’d never see her again, but my phone died ten minutes into the conversation and I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.

I couldn’t see further than an arm’s length in front of me but worryingly could hear a bull’s bell very close nearby, so I sped up and finally made it to the top with a glimmer of light on the horizon.

By now, my phone and camera had both died and I had ran out of food and water. I decided it would be best to descend via the other side, as I wasn’t looking forward to climbing down the steep bits in pitch black without a light source. Thankfully the other side was just full of rocks and earth, so I was able to slide on my ass, doing some reverse crab exorcist sh*t for a few hundred metres.

After the rather quick descent, but still being ⅔ of the way up from where I had started I came across what seemed to be a large field of boulders and rocks, with lots of gaps in between. With only the starlight to guide me, I was jumping over gaps and boulders – it definitely felt like something from Ninja Warrior.

Having passed the boulder test (at this point I just saw it as a big game/challenge I had to pass) a few hours later, I finally found a path, but not one that was heading in my direction.  I had cleverly parked my bike on the complete opposite side of the mountain, so would have to go all the way round to get it. Instead, I continued to walk.

3-4 hours and many random roads and detours later I found my to the bridge that crosses over the river to the main road, which I remembered I had crossed originally. (Stupidly I’d left the satnav on the bike, so I wasn’t exactly sure of the address, but I figured I could recognise the street). After walking down the main road that crosses through the whole of Andorra, I arrived at the place where I expected the hostel to be, but of course I couldn’t see it.

There wasn’t much else to do but to keep walking – I thought that I must have had the wrong place…there was only one main street after all. An hour of walking later, I was totally confused and thought I must have missed it, but I had explored every detour on the road, so I presumed It must be further, so I just kept walking for hours, finally making it to the main town in Andorra, where I bumped into some friendly guys who offered to give me a lift.

It was about 7am by this point and they drove me to exactly where I had been in the first place…I just hadn’t gone up the road far enough! Absolutely starving and a little dehydrated, I rushed to the vending machine and bought all the biscuits and juice I could get with my coins and drifted into a coma in bed until the maid woke me.

I can’t really remember when I woke up, but let’s say it was the next day, I realised that the adventure wasn’t over yet as I’d left my bike on the other side of the mountain and had to go get her, which was a couple of hours walk, but I managed to get a bus pretty close.

Needless to say, I was glad to be leaving Andorra even though I loved my time there. Making my way back to France I finally got to ride some of the great hairpin roads down the mountain sides with cows casually grazing in between the sharp corners…which was pretty much the main reason I went to Andorra in the first place.

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