Zumaia to Deba through Ruta del Flysch is only 14 km… the weather will be quite comfortable, only 24 degrees Celsius… it is worth enjoying the wonderful view from our room … all these reasons led us once again to leave the hotel late. At 09:30 we were still buying some fruits for our way and an extra bottle of water. A not-too-steep ascent along the street brought us to a view of a nearby monastery and our hotel and the expanses of the ocean. From here the ascent continued on a dirt path to the top of the mountain. A nice note on a gate announced:” Beware of the cattle”.At 12 o’clock we looked at Zumaia from afar and already felt the heat and humidity very well.
The small village of Elorriaga is the point where you can continue on the Camino or turn off onto the GR 121, to Ruta del Flysch. If you choose the GR make sure that you have enough water and that you are in good condition.
The descent towards the sea seemed steep but innocent and pleasant on the path winding in the shade of the trees. At the end of the descent, a first observation point awaits the hiker and provides a glimpse of a beautiful geological phenomenon- this is the begining of Ruta del Flysch. We stood and the realization dawned on us that the forecasters made a huge mistake…. The temperature gauge on the phone showed 33 degrees. The humidity load was 90 percent – the heat load was unbearable.Shell we go back? continue?For the first time in this Camino we feel angry with each other. A short argument between us and we continue.
The view is breathtaking but for long minutes we walk in tense silence. The exposed area is hot at noon and large drops of sweat drip from both of us. The path leads to a magical bay – The color of the rocks is bright white that turns into a sparkling silver on the deep blue background. The heart expands and we stop to embrace and admire the beauty of creation. Vertical rows of rock deep into the ocean. I see in my imagination the fins of a giant shark wade through the waters of the bay. Cheerful families, taking advantage of the strong low tide, walk on the bare rocks or swim in the elongated pools they form. In a few hours the water will cover this beauty.
It’s hard for me to say goodbye to this beautiful beach whose rock formations are amazing with their sharp angles and varied colors. I take my time while Doron, his face deep red, burning from the intense heat, starts to move forward and then I rush after him. The path is narrow and behind the bend is a surprise – 3 brown horses are standing and grazing peacefully. Few people are waiting on the path and we join them. A few minutes pass, the horses ignore us. With no choice, we get off the path and climb the side of the mountain. Thorny bushes surround our feet and a million bees are hovering around and scaring me. At the end of the detour we are back on the path and start a steep ascend. The heat puts a heavy weight on the body and we stop every few meters to drink and breathe. At this point, with no shade at view, I feel worried. Fearing for Doron’s health, worried that the heat will cause his body to collapse.
The steep dirt path, exposed to the hot sun, led us for long minutes up the mountain. When it seems that the ascent is over, we reach a tiny road, we sit exhausted on the side of the road in the shade and eat dates and nuts. A group of young people in sportswear appear from the other side. I ask: “Is it still a long way till Deba?” , “Only an hour…the ascent is almost over,” they asure us. Suddenly I feel a terrible pain in my left shoulder. My left hand is frozen with pain and I’m scared. I’m having a heart attack…? I take a deep breath, recognize that these are probably muscles that have tightened from the effort. I brought electrodes with me from home as first aid equipment and now I attach them. The sight of me, walking with electrical wires sticking out of me is funny and weird but it does soothe the pain. We continue and an hour later entering a grove. A bad smell in the air – the waters of a sewage treatment plant flow between concrete pools. The ascent continues and seems to have no end. Exhausted, we sit down on a fallen pine trunk and look at the sea that spreads out below us. Out of nowhere a young couple in bathing suits comes up from the beach. They have surfboards in their hands. The fresh look of both contrasts with our exhausted sweatiness. Last effort and we reach a busy main road with a pedestrian bridge. This is the end of Ruta del Flysch.
The arrow seems to point to the left but the city, sitting on the bay, looks close down the road to our right. We turn right, start walking along the road and reach a parking bay. Cars pass by us at an alarming speed and suddenly it is clear to me that it does not make sense that this is how the Camino leads us. I go back to the bridge and look for the arrow. Now I discover stairs hidden inside the bridge. I climb and here is the arrow – points to the other side of the road and to another mountain to climb. At this point Doron had had enough. “Do you really mean that we will climb the mountain now, at three in the afternoon in the heat of the day? Instead of just walking for half an hour along the road?” He is annoyed but my fear of being run over by a car is too great and I insist. With a frowning face we start climbing a hill that quickly turns into a mountain that we have no choice but to climb to its summit. Few hikers are climbing next to us and by the look on their faces it seems that they too are already exhausted. At the top – there is the small church of Santa Catalina date back to 1539 and one can see the city below.
Deba lies in a narrow valley between the mountains, at the junction between the river and the bay. A quick descent and we reach residential towers and elevators that take us down to the city level. A guide sign refers to the GR 121 and shows us the steep ascents and descents that we have finished. In a nearby square, some of the hikers who climbed the mountain with us are sitting in a cafe. We also sit down and order a cold beer and some sandwiches. The city center is nice, the houses are well maintained and the church of Santa Maria is impressive.
Pension Zumardi turns out to be a house next to the railroad tracks, which excludes the possibility of a quiet night. The room is small but clean. We put our things down and go to the beach which is just around the corner. The hot weather suddenly changes its face and turns into a thunderstorm. We leave the beach and head to the city center. One small restaurant still has room and some fresh pintxos. We buy dessert at a nearby ice cream shop and then hurry to sleep.