Last weekend we went hiking the the Gredos Mountains, in Avila Province about 2 hours west of Madrid. You're not allowed to camp in any parks in most provinces of Spain, so we'd booked 2 nights in a Refugio, or a mountain hut. The highest peaks of the Gredos are about 2,500 meters, so not so tall but there is skiing there in winter. We hiked up to Laguna Grande the first day, a 6.5 K hike. The weather was awesome, the trail was great, and the kids were running around in short sleeves. We saw 2 mountain goats on a ridge above the parking lot. The scenery is dry, high, plains, and the upper parts of the mountains are glacially-carved rock.
After a sunny lunch and goat watching, it was back over the ridge and around the lake to the refugio. This time we could again find the cairns for the trail going down, so the trail was much better. But, it started to snow, and then the snow turned into rain, and Silas had had it. Mike had to carry him a bit, off and on, for the last 90 minute slog out of the slush, hard work for Mike and an unhappy Silas in unpredictable winter weather. Back at the refugio, everyone changed socks, warmed up, the kids got a warm Cola Cao (Spanish version of hot chocolate) from the refugio kitchen.
By the time we got back to the car, most of the snow was gone and Maeve was picking up snow from piles and dumping it in puddles so Silas could throw rocks at it and break up the slush. Winter weather fun for all! There were also a few hundred people in inappropriate gear on the last kilometer of trail. We realized there were 3 groups of people -- folks who wanted to hike and were prepared, and 2 groups of folks who wanted to play in the snow and/or to look for wild mountain goats, none of which were to be seen because of the hordes of people and multiple dogs. Good end to the adventure.