Thursday, 1 December 2016

Day 3 of Walking in the Alpjurra in Spain

2nd November

Portugos to Trevelez
15.5 km, 750m ascent, 530m descent - 5 1/4 hours

Our notes told us to walk back up to the The Portugos church and then follow a path a short distance across country, to where it would meet the tarmac road to Busquistar. Having climbed the hill to the church the previous evening, we immediately set off along the tarmac from our hotel's doorstep. This became an excellent decision some 20 mins later, when we spotted a sign to the La Fuente Agria Waterfall. We had read about its red colour, but had been unable to establish exactly where it was. So glad we found it, even if it meant many more, steep steps down to its base.

This area is the source of natural mineral waters of high iron content, hence the red colour. We read that the waters are particularly beneficial to people with anaemia, but only if imbibed directly from the fountain.

Back on the road, it was a pleasant walk to the village of Busquistar. The road entered above the village, but at this point, we took a left turn and the day's real climbing began.

 Distance view
   Roof top view

As we hiked  uphill, passed fields of corn, fruit and olive trees, we were amused when our notes told us to find a wooden bridge over a stream. 
The stream was a wide irrigation channel, a legacy of the Moors who lived here in the 700's.

Soon after the crossing, the trail entered Holm Oak woods, carpeted with fallen autumn leaves, making it a tad difficult to spot the trail markers low to the ground.

Our ascent continued.

Several k's of open, flatter ground, brought relief for a short while, with lovely vistas both above and below to the valley.

Spot the trail marker.

Then, it was another steep drop down into another of the dry creek beds we had to cross, before entering a reforested pine area.

The forest's dry floor was softened by this lovely, bushy wildflower.

Cortijo La Rosa - a landmark in our notes. We saw no one. In fact we saw no-one all day.

Our next post of reference was a GR-7 post [1727m].
At that point, we were to leave the road, going R down a narrow, steep, zigzag track. The notes said to continue on downhill to a 4 way junction [1569m]to a makeshift bridge [tree trunks] cross it, continue on the narrow path below the landslide and be careful on the loose slippery rock. Continue up the steep hill!
Well our road was lovely and wide. The map indicated it continued to Trevelez. The steep track was barely discernible and neither of our knees felt comfortable with a steep drop. The decision was made to stay on the road and when possible get back on trail.

The view from where the decision was made.

Close up!

Well, thankfully we were able to continue on the road, but I don't know what cars do at this point.

This was the view back down to where the horse and farmer were, taken shortly after the creek scramble.

The road zigzagged higher and higher. We stopped at several trail markers, but we just couldn't relate any of them to our notes or map. We weren't disappointed to be hiking on a flat surface, as we were both suffering from tired feet.

All alone.

Well over an hour later, our destination Trevelez, hove into sight. It was to be another 3/4 hour until we could remove our boots.

Back on trail and descending.

Looking back to the high point we had descended from. The lovely autumn shades made me forget my tiredness. So refreshing to see green.

The only building in the village, not white.

Note the water channel collecting the precious H2O. Wash house also on the left.

How did they build these homes on top of one another on these steep inclines? How often are they painted? How are they painted?

Halloween is not quite over for this little one. Surprisingly to us, Halloween celebrations were numerous.

At this point we were well and truely ready for a cold refreshment at our hotel. The sign said 100m to Hotel La Fragua. Our pace quickened, but alas, believe it or not, we were caught in a traffic jam and didn't move on for 10 to 15 mins. There was much laughter each time we took a step forward, only to have to take it back.

Finally the packs were downed and we entered the hotel. It was 2pm and the locals were gathering for lunch and siesta. Such a lovely atmosphere to step into, but the bad news was, that this was the restaurant La Fragua  and we still had another 100m AND 60 steps to our room. 
The story has a happy ending. Our room was large. It had a bath to soak in, 2 large cosy lounge chairs, a jug, cups, coffee, a wide patio and a wonderful view to appreciate the scale of the mountains. 

Dinner was the earliest yet, at 7.30pm. Perfect menu for the hungry hikers.

Basket of rolls
Amazing salad - freshly grown local tomato, cucumber, kiwi fruit, walnuts, sultanas, sweet corn, onion, asparagus, carrot, beetroot, and cheese strands.
Tasty vegetable broth of finely chopped mixed vegetables.
A whole trout with assorted vegetables and the best boiled potatoes.
A creamy banana and chocolate mousse.

As you can imagine, it didn't take us long to fall into a deep, satisfied sleep on our return to our room.
I would love to read your comment.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Day 2 0f Hiking in the Alpujurra in Spain

1st November

14 kms, 5 hours, 385 m ascent and 520 m descent.

After the celebrations in our plaza the previous evening, the morning dawned clear and peaceful. We set off with a spring in our step, in the crisp morning air, enjoying the crystal clear light across the Poqueira Valley. We felt confident that for at least the 1st 1/2 hour of the day, we would know where we were going. 

After descending to Bubion, it was a steep climb to 1565 m. Thankfully the trail had very few steps or rocks to negotiate.

Capileria in the distance. Bubion in the foreground.

And still climbing higher!

The summit appeared to be getting closer.

Finally - 1 1/2 hours later!

The next half hour gave us respite, the trail gradual, until the descent down to the village of Capileirilla began.

 This marker was easily spotted. Some weren't.

Following the notes looks simple, but if you forget to keep an eye on your distance travelled, then several options appear to be correct, or you have gone too far.

As we made our descent, I was grateful I wasn't in Australia and staying alert for snakes. Silly me. Frank suddenly called out to step right. This fellow had already passed Frank and caught up to me, but thankfully it soon headed off the track. Research has informed me that there are 13 different snakes in Spain, 5 of which are venomous. I believe this to be just a viper.

There were very few wildflowers, but this yellow bush brought a splash of colour to the otherwise brown, arid terrain.

Coming out of holm oak woods, we were greeted by this lovely vista, but we were to drop right down into this valley and then back up again.

In Capileirilla, we just couldn't locate a right turn to be taken. Suddenly we were on the edge of the village and enjoying the wonderful autumn colours of this tree. After looking at our map, the decision was made not to retrace our steps, but to follow the road to Pitres. The peacefulness was soon disturbed by the continuous honking of a horn and we wondered what on earth it was. The answer took me back to my childhood - the bread delivery van.

The leafy green on either side of the road was a lovely relief from the browns of most of the trail.

Our plan worked. We sat here and had lunch before attacking a steep descent to Mecina.

Even though I may dwell on the brown palette of most of this hike, we were still amazed at the productiveness of this steep, dry, rugged terrain. All along the paths, in gardens and on farms, there is an incredible variety of produce growing. The sound of trickling water accompanied us regularly, but was hidden in the network of channels for irrigation.

I included this one for Nathalie of,
The grape vines were readying for winter.

As was this tree.

Interesting path down......

to Mecina.

The notes had told us to look for a large threshing circle. We would see many of these over the next few days. Found! Now for the next clue.

I was impressed with where this grapevine was growing. Another oft seen spectacle.

Time for some official road walking, as we begin to ascend again.

It was All Saints Day weekend, so families were tending the graves of their loved ones.

As we gained elevation, the constant humming of a helicopter was heard. We couldn't see smoke, but there was a bushfire in the next valley and the helicopter was dumping water on it. A small aircraft also flew over twice, spraying retardant. 
Taking a breather, we enjoyed the view back to the villages we had visited.

Next, the village of Ferreirola.

I wonder how old this vine is and growing through concrete!

 Many villages had water fountains and wash houses. This one was the clue to turn left.

This area is one of many areas of Spain, hoping for heavy falls of rain soon. November is one of their wettest months and none had fallen.

Atalbeitar, another delightful white village.

Finally after the last steep climb of the day, we arrived in Portugos. We followed the notes to the village church up this road and then discovered that our hotel was actually at the entry to the village.

The church bell tower.

After a refreshing shower we sat on our balcony and soaked up the sounds and beauty of the valley. Dogs barked, birds twittered and goat bells tinkled. The sunset colours added to the tranquility.  After dinner, the lights of the villages shone brightly. I wish my camera could have caught them more clearly.

We were footsore and the knees just a tad tired, but this had been an amazing day of hiking. I would love to read your comment.