Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sea of Clouds

Asturcon Ponies above a sea of cloud on The Sueve Mountains (height 500m)

When you hear of a sea of clouds you probably think about travelling in an aeroplane flying high above the clouds but here in Asturias where the mountains and sea live hand in hand this awesome sight is quite a common spectacle.

Early morning mist and sea of clouds by the hotel (height 200m)

Sea of cloud filling the valley above Sobrefoz and San Juan de Beleño (height 800m)

Cow admiring a sea of clouds from the Pico Pierzo (height 1400m)

In the valleys some mornings you can wake up and look out of the window only to see a cool eerie whiteness. You may think staying in the warmth of your bed for another hour is the better option rather than venturing out into the cold damp air, but for those in the know making an early start and venturing up into the mountains can have a breathtaking reward; a sea of cloud. A flowing white mass lying in the valleys broken by the mighty peaks bursting up into the brilliant clear blue sky, a source of inspiration and awe for ancient poets and modern day artists and photographer.

Rays of sunlight breaking through the cloud near Vegaredonda refuge (height 1300m)

Sunset over a sea of cloud above the Carres gorge near the Cabrones refuge (height 2000m)

Other times the sea of clouds can be much higher and then if you’re planning an outing you think to yourself “will I be lucky, will I be able to get above the clouds?” Lower down it’s a grey day and as you start climbing the clouds get closer. As you climb further you enter into thick cloud with practically no visibility, the route seems scary and you wonder what you’re doing. You keep on climbing and then the greyness appears to get less intense and you start to gain a sense of optimism. As you climb further rays of light begin to break through the swirling cloud and your reward seems almost there. Higher up you’re above the "sea of clouds", an interlaced mass of whiteness, silently flowing like waves round the majestic peaks, a truly breathtaking sight.

Just getting above the clouds near Ordilaga (height 1200m)

On La Torrezuela high in the Western Massiff of the Picos (height 1800m)

Early spring near Peña Crespa in Redes (height 1300m)

It’s very difficult to predict when this phenomenon will occur and how easy it is going to be to get above the mist or clouds. Normally the sea of cloud is due to moist air coming of the sea which then condenses over night forming mist or low cloud. Clear skies, high atmospheric pressure and lower night temperatures all play a part in its formation and what height you need to get to, to be above it. Sometimes with a short car drive or a gentle walk and you’re soon above the mist. Other times a windy road 1000m up into the mountains seems eternal before you’re above the cloud and in the sun and other times a strenuous hike is needed to get above the 1,500m level before you’re above the clouds. Keeping well tuned to the weather forecast along with the aid of local knowledge can help people decide on the possibilities of getting above the mist or cloud and seeing this wonderful sight.

Clear night in winter with mist forming in the valley close to the Mirador del Fito (height 500m)

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Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.