Las Lajas is a campsite and recreation area sitting at around the 7,000ft/2,100mtr altitude on the main road from the south of the island to the Teide National Park. I set out on this walk on a beautiful morning and headed for a path contouring around Montana de Las Lajas and descended a very steep, slippery and eroded path enjoying the stunning views towards the south coast and to nearby Montana Colorada.
View to Ifonche & the coast
As the path levelled out a little, some circular stone constructions indicated the location of a silvicultural settlement in an area where the pine trees had been exploited for a medicinal oil called 'miera' in the early 1900's.
Basaltic rock formations in the Barranco del Cuervo
Descending further, I was startled by the sudden appearance of three female moufflon sheep running through the trees and across my path a few metres ahead and watched as they disappeared into the trees as quickly as they had materialised . The moufflon are a non-native species introduced in 1970 for hunting purposes and though they are still present on the island, they are extremely elusive and this was only my third sighting of them in around twenty years of walking on the island.
Old silviculture settlement
The moufflon are responsible for damaging endemic plant species on the island and every year there are a number of culls to reduce the population. Soon, I reached the GR131 long distance path and followed it for a short distance across the impressive Barranco del Rey before leaving it for another barranco below the steep slopes of Alto de Chimoche.
Circling around the pine forested hill, I then picked up a forest track which signalled the start of a my long, steep ascent back to Las Lajas and the end of my walk.