Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Coast to Coast through the Anaga Mountains

Coast viewed from the path to Chinamada from Punta Del Hidalgo

Last week, I hiked a two day 'coast to Coast route from the northern side of the Anaga Mountain range to the coast on southern side. Starting in Punta del Hidalgo, I climbed in superb scenery through the Barranco del Rio to the cave-house village of Chinamada, around two thousand feet above. 

The start of the path in Punta del Hidalgo

Heading into the Barranco

On the path to Chinamada

The village is a fascinating relic of a past way of life and although the cave houses now have electricity and some even have satellite dishes, it still retains an atmosphere of a bygone age. After a short break by the 'modern' church in the plaza, I followed a beautiful path towards Las Carboneras and enjoyed the stunning views across the Barranco de Tomadero to the tiny hamlet of Batan on the other side of this vast valley. At the top of a path called Las Escaleras, I stopped to refill my water bottle at a fountain by the side of the path, which proved vital later in the trip, and descended into Las Carboneras. 

Cave Houses in Chinamada

Las Carboneras & Roque Taborno

In the Barranco de Taborno

Here, I took a path across the Barranco de Taborno which meandered along on some delightful forest paths before climbing very steeply up into Taborno village. Leaving Taborno, the path rounded a corner and I was suddenly confronted by the awesome spectacle of the Afur Valley framed by the incongruous sight of a line of washing drying in a nearby garden and, deciding that this was probably the most scenic washing line in the world, reached for my camera. 

The worlds most scenic washing line

Descending into the Afur Valley

Descending steeply, I arrived in the village of Afur before beginning the steep climb out of the other side. My plan was to get as far as my legs would allow for the day although I needed to get to the Casa Forestal on the TF12 road on top of the Anaga ridge as I had read that there was water available and I would need to top up  my supplies again. 

Ascending from the Afur Valley

After a long, tiring climb I reached the Casa Forestal but was dismayed to find that the information I had read on the internet was wrong, or out of date. I checked my supply and discovered I still had 1.5 litres so decided I would have to make do with what I had. It was now getting into the early evening and I still had to find somewhere to pitch my tent but having crossed the TF12 and begun descending into the forest again, I was concerned that the ground was too steep for camping. As I descended further, a sudden opening in the forest gave me a superb surprise view down to Santa Cruz, my eventual destination the following day. A short distance further along I managed to find a level clearing in the trees where I could pitch my tent. 

First View of Santa Cruz

My Campsite in the woods

Having set-up camp, I cooked my meal and settled down for a pleasantly relaxing evening listening to music and the sounds of the birds in the trees. The following morning, I packed up early and began my descent down to Valle Brosque. The weather was cool and there was a little light rain but as the path emerged from the forest, I was confronted by a stunning view of Teide rising above the serrated Anaga mountain ridges. 

Teide rises above the Anaga Mountains

The vast volcano was lit up by the early morning sun and I stood for a while admiring this awesome view. My plan was to descend to Valle Brosque before climbing back up into the mountains a little and then contouring along a path following a water channel, which passed through some tunnels. The area around Valle Brosque was superb, a real ‘lost world’ of towering mountains, deep ravines, trickling streams and waterfalls, all set to the deafening soundtrack of hundreds of croaking frogs and the more melodious sound of birdsong. It was here that I managed to find more water.

Frog in Valle Brosque

Desecending to Valle Brosque

After climbing back up to around 1700ft, I located the path along the water channel and this is where my plan fell apart. A sign blocking the path warned of landslides and toxic fumes in the tunnels. This rather threw a spanner in the works so I continued to climb all of the way back up to the road I had crossed the previous evening. I knew that if I reached the road I could follow it to the Pico del Ingles mirador and pick up a pathway down though the Barranco Seco to Valleseco and the seafront at Santa Cruz. 

Descending in the Barranco Seco

In the Barranco Seco

The climb back up to the road was a real drag but not as bad as walking along the road, which seemed to go on forever. Having reached the stunning Pico del Ingles mirador, I picked up the path and descended into the beautiful Barranco Seco after which, I followed the road through Valleseco to the seafront in Santa Cruz. In all, over the two days, I walked 40 kilometres but more significantly, ascended 8,900ft and descended 9,240ft. I walked for 7.75 hours on the first day and 7 hours on the second.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Teide and the Canal de Vergara

Start of the Teide path

This week, I completed a two day hike starting on the Teide path before crossing the Las Canadas National Park and descending into the pine forest and finishing in Chio in the west of the island. Starting out on the Montaña Blanca - Teide path, I followed the route uphill for a short distance to around the 8,200ft mark where a path veers right to the visitor centre at El Portillo, which I followed for a few moments before leaving this for a path to La Forteleza. 

Heading for La Forteleza

This red coloured 'cliff' is a surviving section of the northern caldera wall, the rest having been destroyed during the formation of the current peak, Teide. Having climbed to the shrine on the summit of the Degollada del Cedro pass, I made my way to the Fuente de Mesa mirador where I had stunning views of the 'Mar de Nubes', or sea of clouds and the Orotava Valley. 

La Forteleza

The view from here was quite breathtaking and I had to stop to simply absorb the scene that resembled a frozen 'cotton wool' ocean hanging suspended above the pine forest. Although I had seen similar views in the past, this vantage point proved to be probably the best I have ever seen. 

The shrine on the Degollada del Cedro

Descending to a fire tower in the forest I then followed the Canal de Vergara water channel for many miles, sometimes walking on top of it, at others on a track alongside. This important water channel carries water from the Barranco de Vergara in the north to the south of the island and at around a metre in width, is wide enough to walk on. 

Mirador Fuente de Mesa

Most of the time on this section, I had stupendous views of Teide in all of it's towering splendour as I followed the channel for some hours before camping in a clearing next to the water channel to give me access to water. 

My campsite

Teide and the Canal de Vergara

Continuing the trek the following day, I set off in beautiful sunshine in the quiet of the early morning, again with beautiful views overlooking the Orotava Valley and the sea of clouds, and followed the water channel for many miles, often having to push past bushes blocking my way. 

Early morning over the Orotava Valley

By now, the views of Teide were behind me and I made a point of stopping occasionally to admire the ever impressive sight of the magnificent volcano. Eventually, I left the water channel and began climbing up through the forest towards the TF38 Chio-Teide road. 

Following the water channel

Rounding a bend, I was presented with one of the most stunning views of the entire trip when below me lay Montana Chinyero, the site of the last eruption on Tenerife in 1909, as well as Pico de Gala, easily identified by the masts on it's summit, and the island of La Palma on the horizon. 

Montaña Chinyero, Pico de Gala & La Palma

After a very long trek on a wide forest pista, I eventually reached the TF38 and followed it for a short distance before descending a very rough, volcanic path into Chio. 

Teide and Pico Viejo near the TF38

In all, I walked 55.75 kilometres, climbed 1,385 metres, descended 3,020 metres, walking for 8.5 hours on the first day and 7.75 hours on the second. 

Map of the route

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Climbing the caldera

Teide & Mt.Guajara from the caldera rim

One of the advantages of living in Tenerife is that it is possible to decide what type of walk you want to do, pick an area and within a short space of time, find yourself enjoying exactly the type of walking you want, such is the diversity of the terrain. This happened to me recently when I decided on a fairly strenuous high altitude mountain hike, so I drove for around three quarters of an hour to the Las Lajas campsite and recreation zone above Vilaflor for a hike onto the caldera rim.

Climbing through the pines to the caldera rim

The walk initially followed a path that was new to me, which ran below the TF21 Teide road before passing underneath it via a tunnel to the small parking area by the ruins of Casas de Fuentes Frias. From here, there are a couple of paths leading above the pines to the the caldera rim path and the dome-like Sombrero de Chasna outcrop.

Looking towards the south coast

I was fortunate to have picked a fantastic clear day with blue skies and little wind and I enjoyed the ever expanding views as I climbed quickly to the open ground above the trees. Being familiar with the path from the National Parador in the National Park, which runs along the caldera rim to Sombrero de Chasna before descending to Las Lajas, I have always wondered if it was possible to continue along the rim of the caldera in a westerly direction.

Sombrero de Chasna

Having reached almost 8,000ft, Teide made a dramatic appearance over the edge of the caldera and I stopped for a while to enjoy the views into the National Park far below.  Turning left along the edge, I continued to enjoy the stunning scenery as I followed a narrow but mostly clear path heading towards El Sombrerito, a prominent mountain above the Boca de Tauce road junction at the southern entrance to the park.

Teide appears above the caldera rim

After around half an hour along this path, I suddenly came to an abrupt halt as the ridge I was on ended at a series of serious looking crags and the ground dropped away steeply on both sides. It was clear that I wouldn't be going any further in this direction so I had a short break before turning round and heading back the way I had come. Having returned, I descended slightly before climbing onto Sombrero De Chasna. The view from the summit is somewhat disappointing as the top is a large plateau, which obscures all but the more distant views.

The view from the caldera rim

Leaving the summit, I descended into a valley and once again entered the pine forest for further fantastic views to the south coast as I made my way back to the Casas de Fuente Frias. Eventually, I arrived back at the Las Lajas campsite where I was alerted to the presence of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a pine tree above. I stopped to watch for a while as the hollow 'rattle' of it's pecking echoed around before returning to my car after a wonderful five hour walk in spectacular mountain scenery. To download a GPS track of the walk, click on the 'Wikiloc' symbol below

Saturday, 7 February 2015

A hike to the Fuente Madre del Agua waterfall

Blue Chaffinch

One thing I miss about walking in Tenerife is the lack of running water as there are virtually no rivers on the island, so I was interested to read recently about a waterfall in the south of the island high up in the mountains above the village of Vilaflor. The waterfall, which is fed by the Madre del Agua spring, is located in the upper reaches of the Barranco de Las Vegas at an altitude of around 1840 metres. It is possible to drive along the Madre del Agua dirt road to the Madre del Agua campsite from where it is only a short half hour walk to the waterfall but I wanted to make a day of it, so chose to hike along the Paisaje Lunar path from Vilaflor. 

Casa Galindo on the Camino de Chasna

This is a steep hike with around 1,000 meters of ascent, initially along an ancient trade route called the Camino de Chasna between Vilaflor and the town of La Orotava on the north side of the island. This path climbs very steeply out of Vilaflor before crossing the Barranco de Las Mesas and the Pista Madre del Agua dirt road as it heads off up into the Corona Forestal pine forest. 

Pista Madre del Agua road

On the day of my hike, the island was experiencing a calima, which is a local word for an occasional phenomenon that occurs when the air fills with sand and dust blown over from the Sahara and hangs suspended in the air like a mist. In the summer calimas can cause the temperature to soar to 40c or above but in the winter it can have the opposite effect. The temperature on my hike was quite cool in the shade, perfect for hiking, although the views were a little restricted as it was fairly hazy. 

Los Llanitos

After a couple of hours, I left the Paisaje Lunar path for another path leading to the campsite, which was closed for the winter, the wooden cabins standing forlorn and uninhabited in a clearing in the forest. After a few minutes of trying to locate the path, I began the last section of the climb to the waterfall and after crossing the Barranco de Las Vegas, the scenery began to change and I suddenly heard something that I rarely hear on a hike in Tenerife, running water, although at this point it wasn't visible. 

Mt Guajara seen through the calima

It was here that I had the good fortune to see a pair of Blue Chaffinches at close quarters and managed to take a few close up photos. Soon, the path descended to a stream crossing and as I climbed further, instead of pines, found myself surrounded by Canary Willow trees. 

Madre del Agua campsite

Higher up the path, I encountered a number of the willow trees blocking the path and I had to crawl underneath them after removing my rucksack. In this area, the stream was now quite fast flowing as it meandered between the trees and carpets of  willow leaves, which gave the area the look and feel of an English woodland in autumn. I was amazed at how unlike south Tenerife the whole area looked and soon, this feeling was compounded as I rounded a corner and came upon a beautiful waterfall tumbling into a dark pool at the foot of a cliff. 

Stream flows through the leaves beneath the willows

I stood amazed that I had walked many times in the area without being aware of the existence of the waterfall and after spending some time enjoying the beauty of this hidden corner, I turned and made my way back to Vilaflor.

 Click on the Wikiloc symbol in the corner of the map to download the GPS file

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Some 2014 Walking Highlights

As 2014 draws to a close, I thought it would be nice to look back at some of the walking highlights from the past twelve months. 

A snowclad Teide seen here on a walk through the Chinyero reserve, site of the last eruption on Tenerife in 1909

The town of Tamaimo in the Santiago Valley seen here from Montaña La Hoya

A cloud-capped Roque del Conde seen from the abandoned Suarez Finca between Ifonche and Arona

Crossing the Chinyero lava flow

Looking across the Santiago Valley to Pico Verde and Pico de Gala

Playa Colmenares on the Costa del Silencio

View towards Montana Roja from Monataña Amarilla, Costa del Silencio

Finca at Guayero in the Ifonche region

Spring Poppies near Trevejos

Jacob's Ladder on the Pennine Way, England. My big challenge of 2014, which ended
with me retiring at the halfway mark due to numerous equipment failures. I am returning in
June 2015 for another attempt. 

Above the Barranco de La Fuente

The deserted village of Las Fuentes seen from the summit of Montaña Tejina
Happy New Year and Happy Walking to all for 2015 from Tenerife Rambler