Day 5. Snow in the Picos!

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Tue 9 Nov 2010 18:53
Day 5: 9 November 2011. Hotel Tryp Montalvo, Salamanca. N40 56.342 W005 40.077
Since Jenny and I met in 2004, we have managed to organise our lifestyle between the UK, South Africa and Al Shaheen, so as always to keep warm, if not hot. When I signed on for this trip to Africa I envisaged always continuing to be warm, if not hot.  I hadn't bargained for the Picos de Europa in November! 
We left Tudes at about 700 m and climbed up a mountain pass for the next 2 hours, on an incredibly engineered road in 2nd and 3rd gears, fortunately with absolutely no traffic. We didn't see another car on the way up and began to think the road may have been closed. We left in sunshine, clear skies but with a very strong wind.  As we climbed the wind got stronger, the temperature fell and at about 1100 m we encountered horizontal blowing snow.  It was all incredibly beautiful with dramatic mountain views, snow capped peaks and all enhanced by the deciduous forests in their full autumn colours. This scenery at this time of the year is an equal to the fall colours in New England.
As we rose above 1100 m the snow became continuous but, fortunately, was not laying. We came across several work crews with snow ploughs and diggers removing fallen debris which had escaped the frequent rock-fall barriers. As we reached the summit at 1609 m we passed out of the Province of Cantabria into Castillia y Leon where the maintenance had not been to such a high standard and there was a thin layer of snow on the road until we descended below 1300 m. The descent was just as beautiful as the ascent. We paused for a coffee in Portilla de la Reina and then continued at a faster pace to a small market town of Cistierna where we had superb freshly prepared hamburgers in a small bar before continuing on to Salamanca.
Undecided where to stay the night (we had firmly dismissed camping as an option in the gale force wind and sub zero temperature) we drove into Salamanca but couldn't easily find accommodation with parking until we were out the other side and came on the hotel Tryp Montavlo, a warm modern hotel with WiFi and rooms at 50 euros. As we passed through the town we saw the old walled town away to the right and resolved to return tomorrow to explore.
                            La Casa de las Chemineas, Tudes                                                                  Leaving Tudes
                    Just over the summit at 1500m                                                                    On the way down