I said it before on this blog. COVID season sucks like you wouldn’t believe, but there are lessons to be learnt. And one of them is that there sure is great hiking terrain closer than you think.
Come to think of it, I find it amazing that I never parked my car at Puente del Grajal, in neighboring Colmenar Viejo, for a walk, a run or a mountain bike ride up or down river Manzanares – yes, the river that eventually makes its way to Madrid.
Turns out, in the last couple of months I went there twice. Once on a family hike northbound, one on an unexpectedly challenging run to Puente de la Marmota – also on Manzanares, but which bizarrely belongs to my own municipality, given how far from home it actually is.
My solo run struck me particularly. I was expecting a pleasant run on a flat trail, and got thrown into a pretty wild trudge with strenuous patches and more water than expected.
It was late afternoon in November, and I knew that I didn’t have long until sunset. The scenery got better and better, with delightful singletrack across meadows and down to Manzanares.
I saw no one during the hour or so it took me to get to Puente de la Marmota. It was getting colder, and I didn’t love the prospect of running back the ups and downs and getting my feet wet again. So I ran the longer route on dirt roads back to Colmenar Viejo. Monotonous, perhaps. But it afforded me a mellow, misty sunset…
….and a herd of sheep chasing me.
…while I chased the lights of Colmenar Viejo, back to the safety of my vehicle.
You gotta love local travel, really.