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