Frost. Beauty and danger in the snow

I am sure you know the frost well, and more now during winter. But do you know which dangers they have linked to snow?

The frost is formed at night, by the drop of temperature and the condensation of water on the surface (in this case, on the snow). This water can come from the air or the lower layers of snow, warmer than the surface.

Frost is therefore not a type of snow, but it is involved in snow phenomenons, as it influences the behavior of the snow cover.

Usually the frost disappears during the day, in the daytime heat. But if it does not, and the process is repeated for several days, a separate layer can form in the snow cover, which is called snow crust, tremendously hard and slippery.

 

Frost on the snow

 

 

If it subsequently snows on top, we find ourselves in a very dangerous situation whenever we walk on sloping terrain. It may seem that snow is ideal for a walk, but all the soft snow could yield due to our weight and it may happens a snowslide.

It is not very common to find frosts that crystallize so much in the Cantabrian Mountains. Although frosts are not uncommon, winds, daytime temperatures and the absence of many anticyclonic days make it rare to see frosts like those in the photos.

They are really cool images, but remember that snow can be very beautiful and dangerous at the same time. So, it is so important, whenever you like to gor for a walk in a snowy landscape, just go to a flat area, or in the company of professionals.

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How to shit in the bush?

Rubbish in the countryside

(Walk during the daylight, the night is mine)

Sustainability, helping nature.  What should I do when I have to shit?

 

This is the Blog post I've wanted to do, since we started on the page. I know it looks rude, but it's much more important than it looks. And not only because of the smells, but because of the ecological impact and human risks:

- Droppings can contaminate lakes and streams, as well as, by infiltration, mountain springs. Viruses, bacteria, protozoa and other parasites can contaminate human-consuming water.

- Paper contamination. It can take up to a year to completely decompose.

- Risks of poor hygiene after making water bigger and lower

Of course, nature has been the public bath of humans and animals for millennia, and in low densities and conducive environmental conditions, it can be beneficial for the terrain. But as hikers or hikers, we are beings outside the ecological balance, and that is why we must try to reduce our impact as much as possible.

That's why it's important to keep in mind some simple tips:

- On short excursions, it is ideal to have solved the problem at home. The best way to avoid the impact of a residue on nature is not by generating it.

- Avoid places near roads or lakes, streams or rivers. A minimum distance of 50-60 meters is recommended.

- If possible, dig a small hole where you can then bury it. Ideally it is soil with loose and sunny soil.

- If you use fig paper, do not throw it away. Take it in a watertight bag until you find a trash can or dumpster, already at home. Another option is to burn the paper. In that case, make sure you completely burn the paper, and that the fire is completely off before you leave. It would no longer be the first fire caused by this recklessness.

- Wet wipes, compresses, tampons, etc... we have to put them in a bag and throw them in a container, already at home.

- We must wash our hands afterwards, to avoid the risk of infections by our own hands.

 

I promise to be less scatological in upcoming blogs, but if you go out into the wild from time to time and see how some corners are by the roads, you will understand me perfectly...

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What is behind the title of “Principality” of Asturias?

Asturian History

This week has been celebrated the "Asturian Day", and there is a detail that I think is curious and little known. As you know, the official name of Asturias, is that of "Principality of Asturias". Also in the Asturian language. Most people do not know the origin of the name, they think it is related to the Princess of Asturias awards, to the origins of the kingdom of Asturias or to an honorary title.

Nothing further from reality

To do this, we must be in the XIV century. At that time, there was no longer the kingdom of Asturias or León, only those of Castile, Aragon and Navarre.

Alfonso Enriquez, bastard son of Enrique de Trastámara, tried to rebel twice to the kingdom of Castile, within the Asturian territory. The motives are worthy of a soap opera, but it was basically a disrespect when he felt despised by his father, King Enrique. Some years later,  King John I created the Principality of Asturias, similar to that of Wales or the dolphin in France, with a dual purpose:

-Take domain of the Asturian territories directly by the king or his heir, and thereby snatch power from the local nobles or any other power in the area

- Protect the Crown of Castile from foreign interests. By creating the figure of the principality, he legitimized the Crown's heritage and avoided foreign interests that could claim for it.

Furthermore, over the centuries, the institution of the Principality fell into disuse. With the end of the Austrias and the arrival of the Borbones, they revitalized it partially, seeking to increase its legitimacy to the Spanish crown. Being Princes of Asturias, they sought to identify historically with the crown of Castile, and by extension, with that of Spain.

It is true that the meaning of concepts changes as time goes by, and that it is a mistake to understand the past with current concepts, and so the contray. But the origin of the "Principality" is anything but something that fills us with pride and satisfaction.

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Is there a DUTCH Santiago Way?

Trekking

I am sure you know some of the best-known Caminos de Santiago. The French Way, the Primitive Way, the Northern Way, the Lebaniego Way... Everyone walks through the north of Spain. The French one runs by its south side, and the others by the north one. All of them have been awarded as World Heritage Sites.

Are these all the roads of Santiago that run through the Cantabrian? Well, that is not true, there are more variants, some of them are known more than others. The Salvador Way, for example, links León with Oviedo, and it is a very interesting route that mixes nature, mountain and culture. In Asturian Ways, we are focused on offering you these pilgrim ways, because they have no many tourists, and you may feel what old pilgrims might do.  Therefore, the Santiago way was a mixture between religion, culture and politics in equal parts.

Today we bring you a little-known path, from which there are hardly any written references.  This way has been discovered by Clemens and Clodette Sweerman, who have been publishing a guide of the Pilgrim Way for more than 10 years.  It’s called  "St.Jacobs fietsroute, langs pelgrimswegen naar Santiago de Compostela", in which they defend the historical importance of Ibias as a way back on the Camino de Santiago. They assure that there are written evidences of Central European pilgrims who came back from Santiago, via Fonsagrada, Ibias, Degaña and Villablino, avoiding the snowy weather in the Villafranca – O Cebreiro area, and, besides of that, they may walk in a shorter way.

The truth is that in Ibias there are written references from two old Hospitals (so called the pilgrim hostels) and there is a pilgrim shell carved in stone and other symbols typical of the pilgrimage in San Antolín de Ibias Church.

It is a pleasure for us that this Dutch couple has done a great job, discovering us a Santiago Way that was really forgotten.

Would you like to discover it? On our Asturian Far West Tour we will know the areas where this path was sure to pass.

Can you afford to miss out

The information is obtained from the Ibias Council website and an article from La Nueva España (a local newspaper). As far as we learn Dutch, we promise to read the book. And we will invite the Sweermans to an Ibias wine. What less.

Asturian Far West

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La puya’l ramu

La Puya'l Ramu

We present to you an ancestral Asturian tradition. It has been since the 14th century documented, although it is believed to have pre-Christian origins, similar to the German Erntedank and other European festivities linked to crops.

It is currently linked to the religious festivals at the villages. Several espelt breads are blessed, after the procession of the saint or virgin of the people and the Mass. There are also breads from other cereals or even, as in the photo, sweet roscas. The breads are placed in a pyramidal structure full off with flowers, branches and ribbons.

Then, there is an auction. It is said that these blessed breads may protect you and your family. Actually, the auction money is used for church maintenance and charitable expenses. Currently, the money is used to pay the festival expenses. Sometime, people bid more than 50 euros for any of them!

 

It is a very important event, so many people dress the traditional costumes. And you can feel traditional music and dances.

Photo: Rocío Fernández

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A Neolithic mine, a Belgian engineer and an English company.

Mina de Texeu

Few people know that there were many more mines than just coal mines all around the north of Spain. In addition, most people does not know very much about mining before the 19th century. This is a very interesting and very little known example...

It all starts in the middle of Bronze Age, around 1500 BC.  In order to obtain bronze, it was necessary to get copper and tin. Moreover, here we find a copper mine from that time, with galleries excavated and perhaps the first catalogued mining accident in history.

The mine was abandoned until the 19th century.  At that time, Belgian engineer Van Straalen located the remains of this mine. Buried in a gallery, he found 16 human bodies, some with hammers on his hands. Then it was said that they were ritual burials. Today some say it was the first recorded mining accident in history.

The mine was re-opened with English capital, through “The Aramo Cooper Mines Ltd.”  They built new galleries, buildings and more treatment settlements. The mine was closed and opened several times until it was definitely closed in 1960.

Currently, you can visit the environment, in the middle of nature, its facilities, as well as the entrances, both Neolithic and contemporary ones. It is very dangerous to enter the bowels of the mountain, but you can see remains of mining activity just at the first steps. Hole marks, abandoned wagons, digging wells...

 

This place will be part of our themed trips. A walk through nature, history and our industrial heritage.

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Wooden canes

Vara de monte

If you ever forget your mountain canes, you can always try to find a branch dropped to the ground and using it as a cane. Never take one of a living tree, it could be a protected specie.

All shepherds around the world have used wooden canes and sticks as a main tool. They are essencial at the mountains. They help us walking, and they also scare away animals, and serve us to climb or go down more comfortably in mountain areas. In the Canary Islands, traditional shepherds make spectacular ascents and descents with long wooden sticks.

In northern Spain, wooden sticks were mainly from hazel. They are flexible but resistant rods. The shepherds used it in the bush to jump, climb, guide cattle and walk on slopes or snowy areas. And nowadays they continue to use them.

The old photo is not from the 1900 Olympics. It is a shepherd's competition in Picos de Europa. Today, the "salto pasiego" is a traditional Cantabrian sport that looks a bit like pole vaulting.

So you can see everything that can be done with a simple stick....

(classic photo obtained from www.foropicos.net)

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Emergency sunglasses

Gafas de emergencia - remedio esquimal

Have you forgotten your sunglasses and you are going to a snow area? There is an emergency solution. It is an Eskimo invention to prevent damage from sunlight in situations of maximum exposure. It consists of placing an opaque screen on glasses or equivalent support, making a small longitudinal groove on each small screen. The result: we have lower focal amplitude, but we greatly reduce the impact of sunlight on the eyes. It is more effective than dark glasses, although of course it is always better to wear quality sunglasses!  Enjoy the snow safely!!!

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