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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Exploring the Barranco de Tagara

Montaña del Cedro

I have been busy recently with guiding so haven't had much time to explore new routes or update this blog but yesterday I managed to check out a route I haven't walked before around the Roques del Cedro close to the perimeter of the National Park. I started the walk from the Mirador de Chio on the TF38,  the bulk of Pico Viejo forming an imposing backdrop as Teide peered over it's shoulder like a big brother keeping an eye on his wayward younger sibling.

Roques del Cedro

The walk started with a short walk along the road, which ploughs a furrow through the impressive lava flow that emanated from the Narices del Teide (Nostrils of Teide) on the flank of Pico Viejo in 1798. The origin of the eruption is quite visible on the slopes of Pico Viejo with the black 'smudge' of the 'nostrils' and the resultant lava flow forming a dark trail down the mountainside.

Pico Viejo with Teide peering over it's shoulder 

Leaving the road, I headed towards the Roques del Cedro on a wide dirt track that follows the base of the ridge before leaving it for a fairly steep path up to the pass between the Roques del Cedro and Montaña del Cedro. As I reached the pass, a vast panorama opened up before me to the south-west, while to my right, I had occasional glimpses of the peaks of the Teno Mountains partially hidden by ragged clouds flapping around the mountaintops like flags in the wind

Tagara Fire Tower

As I rounded Montaña del Cedro I came across the Fuente del Cedro, flowing from a small cave opening in  the mountain below a religious shrine. As the path levelled out, the Tagara fire watchtower came into view and as I descended to it, the first evidence of the devastation caused by last summers wildfires became evident. The path now descended steeply past the tower and it was on this stretch that the stunning views combined with the need to divert fairly regularly around large blackened pine trees blocking the path.

Above the Barranco de Tagara

This sad sight was mitigated somewhat by the now stunning views into the Barranco de Tagara, a huge rent in the landscape descending towards the bulk of Montaña Tejina far below by the deserted village of Las Fuentes, which was easily identified by the white chapel on it's summit. I had sat by the chapel a couple of weeks earlier for a break looking inland at the sharply rising ground feeling as though I was on the top of the world but I now looked down on Montaña Tejina reduced to a fairly insignificant green hill below. As I continued to descend, I reached an area where the path joined the well marked TF-PR70 footpath from Guia de Isora to Boca Tauce and had to spend a few minutes negotiating the numerous large blackened trunks of fallen pines blocking the way.

In the Barranco deTagara

After a painfully steep section of the path, it soon began to descend into the Barranco de Tagara. The scenery here was simply superb and had a 'lost world' feel to it and I felt that no other person had ever set  foot here before. This illusion was soon dispelled as the smell of freshly cut wood and the sight of sawn logs and sawdust at the side of the path indicated that the clearance after the fires and the recent storm was already under way. Reaching the streambed of the barranco by the Galeria de La Madre, I began the very steep climb up the opposite wall of the ravine, stopping regularly to absorb the views and the remote feel of this impressive barranco, the silence broken only by the wind in the fire blackened pines.

Pico Viejo & Teide reappear

After the steep climb out the the barranco, the climbing eased and after criss-crossing the Barranco del Fraile, I continued steeply up to the Boca de Chavao as Pico Viejo and Teide made a dramatic reappearance through the pines. From the pass, the route followed the broad track from the early part of the walk back to the road after five hours of fairly strenuous but spectacular walking.