Summer-style, multi-day backpacking in late fall requires some adaptation, not only in the gear: I usually take lower level, less exposed routes and/or plan for less days out in a row. This time I chose a summer route in summer style: 8 hiking days, self supported and a seamlessly compromising location.

A few outstanding facts:

  • 40+ km days were out of the question. 30 kms were doable on a struggle. Going anywhere beyond 20 was hard work.
  • Daylight hours are limited. Extending the journey beyond them is tough: it gets cold once the sun’s out. Waking and packing up in the dark was not as nice an option as it usually feels in the summer.
  • Making your own route takes time: route finding/assessing, rough tread, potential for non-optimal choices… all take precious time that can’t be devoted to the actual hiking.

I found traversing the Cantabrian High Route this late in the season a very polarized affair: trying to squeeze the miles out of the daylight hours became a bit stressful, no matter how gregariously I approached the task: stressful, tiring and demanding but… for a relatively short time. Then it came rest time and it was a long one, 12 hours straight in my sleeping bag.

Hiking on the crest

The Cantabrian Ranges are roughly 300 km. long as the crow flies. A very strong hiker could hike it all in a couple of weeks in lightweight style and in the summer. No need to say in this instance I hiked only a section: 176 km over 8 days. I wouldn’t set any record. I just had a fantastic time.