This morning I was heading up to work in a village about 30km outside Madrid where I’ve become fond of a small library, when I spotted the Guadarrama mountains in the background, still capped with snow. My whole being said, “Go there instead,” and an hour later I found myself, dressed in completely the wrong clothes, with no supplies, walking up a mountain.
An hour in, I was walking along a snowy path, the one in the photo above, jacket off, pretty hot, wishing I’d bought some water in the bar down the hill at Cotos. Three people walked up the path and stopped to drink bubbling brook water that was flowing right off the hillside, mentioning a spring further up the path. “And you can drink from the spring?” I asked. “Of course! You can drink from anything up here, any little stream coming off the hill, there’s no cattle upstream at this time of year.”
I followed them to the more ‘official’ spring, a little, slightly rusty pipe coming out of a little stonework, and drunk the sweetest water I’ve ever tasted. The thing is, I never drink spring water! I always feel like it’s ‘not safe’, and for that reason this water, the first I’d drunk off a mountainside in years, even a decade, tasted so incredibly good, so purifying.
And the views were like a window onto the soul. Soft outlines of snow-covered slopes, pine forests silent and still, beneath blue mist. I walked for two hours in the spring sun and snow. If I’d have taken some food I’d have stayed up there all day.
I drove back down to the village where I like to work later on, and found it ridiculous to sit in front of a computer to work after a trip like that. It seems to dishonour the depth of an experience a mountainside gives you. After going up a mountain for a few hours on a day like this, if seems right to do nothing of any consequence for the rest of the day, just to let it sink in, continue its work. Perhaps, just, it’s OK to write about it, to help realise what it’s done.