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J45 - Monday, November 30: Los Arenas de Calabres – 500m after the pass of Puerto de Ponto

Altitude at departure 190 m – at the finish 1,271m
79km – 10H10 ’
Today started in the rain and finished in the snow.  In the space of 4 days we have gone from summer to winter, from a coastal climate to a rough continental climate, with a temperature of -1°C in mid-afternoon.
In the heart of the mountains we went through the small city of Cangas de Onis, with its beautiful church and roman bridge,  before we literally plunged into the mountains.
The Park of the Picos de Europa is crossed by 4 rivers which flow through deep gorges and we take the Defile de los Beyos, through which the river Sella flows, and which climbs gently but steadily  to the Puerto Del Ponto pass (1,280meters).  This climb will be 47 km long with an average positive ascent of 3% but the last 15 km are closer to 6%.  We are entering a new region: Castille and Leon.  This is the largest region in Spain and it has  9 provinces .
We see some animals on the roads, and in a curve I find myself nose to nose with 2 cows.  Joël and René find a nonchalant sow that is in no hurry to be on her way.  And we also see sheep and deer.  As René says, they are our only encounters today.
It’s well known that Serge like difficulty and today he is motivated by this climb (“ his face was beaming and the steeper the climb the happier he seemed to be” said René) which he finishes in the snow, in temperatures just below 0°C.  The snow covered road is slippery under feet and wheels.  Serge is tired at the end of the day, but terribly enthusiastic.
There is no way we can park the vehicles on the side of the road because the plows are piling up snow.  This means we cannot camp as originally planned and tonight we will go into the town of Riaño some 18 km from the end of the stage.
Serge arrives soaked at the finish.  This morning the first 10 km are run in the pouring rain, Serge is dragging and he knows it; 9km in 1:30, it’s too slow but he makes up the lost time as the hours go by.
We hope that the beacon, which we forgot to pack away, isn’t damaged, for it appears  to have stopped connecting with GPRS early this morning.  This evening it will receive special handling: dismantling and drying of the SIM card, which is more than damp.  In any case the GPS points have been registered so the plotting on Google Earth is up to date.
Last night we all decided to head south in the direction of Leon.  We should enter Portugal by way of Braganca on December 4.
Tomorrow, the itinerary will be as follows :  Riaño - Cistierna – stop on the N621 probably at Sahechores (on the same latitude but east of  Leon)
In Spain :
Recycling takes place in all the cities we have crossed.  More than just the containers for glass, plastic and paper there is a fourth container which is red and it is for cooking oil cans (the same that filled the islands in the supermarket).
It is 9 :00 PM and big snowflakes are still falling !

Town : Puerto del Ponto (col)

GPS : N43.09955° W005.01382°