Sunday, 31 January 2010

Walking amongst Volcanos

Last November was the one hundred year anniversary of the last eruption in Tenerife at Montana Chinyero. To commemorate the event, a plaque was fixed to one of the volcanic boulders lining the newly waymarked route around the volcano. The circular route around the dark volcanic cone is a fascinating insight into the devastation caused to the surrounding landscape during the eruptions that lasted from the 18th to the 27th November 1909. At one point in the route, the path actually crosses the top of the lava flow to give you an idea of the scale of the sea of molten rock that flowed through the countryside during the eruptions. As this 5.7 kilometre route is quite close to another eruption site, I though it would be a good idea devise a route linking the two sites together in one continuous walk. The Montana Negra eruption of 1706, destroyed the harbour and a large part of the port of Garachico and the area around the volcano is an amazing black sand desert dotted with pine trees with the imposing sight of Teide and Pico Viejo providing an impressive backdrop. On clear days, the contrast between the black ash and sand, the green of the pines and the deep blue of the sky is quite stunning.
Last Thursday, I led a group of walkers from Los Llanos to Montana Chinyero on a chilly but sunny morning. The walk began with a pleasant stroll through pine trees before arriving at the start of the Chinyero circular path. A short distance along this, we climbed up unto the lava flow (pictured), which is an amazing sight and although it is a route I have walked a number of times, it never fails to fill me with awe. As we picked our way carefully over the frozen lava, the walkers cameras working overtime, the cinder cone of Montana Chinyero came into view. This breathtaking view was complemented by the bulk of Teide towering in the background. Having left the lava field behind, the walk then climbed around the far side of the volcanic cone where we had further superb views looking down onto the lava. During a short break for lunch, the earlier sunny skies suddenly clouded over and it was soon raining steadily. We walked to Montana Negra in the rain but by the time we arrived at the 1706 eruption site, the cone of Montana Negra was all but invisible in the cold, damp mist. With the rain now falling quite heavily and the views having disappeared for the day, we walked briskly back through the woods to Los Llanos and the dry and warmth of the car.