Sunday, 4 September 2016

Las Cañadas to Poris de Abona - A walk from Summit to Sea


The 'El Filo' path is a route in the Las Canadas National Park that starts from the TF24 road close to El Portillo and initially follows a broad track through the desert scenery of the park as it weaves through the Tiede Broom and heads towards the parador. I recently set off on a two day hike following the path as it wound it's way through the parched landscape typically found in this part of the park. Being summer, the weather was very hot and as I could not be sure that I would be able to replenish my water supplies, I carried around 7.5 litres in my pack, which made it quite heavy when combined with my camping gear.



In the early part of the walk, there were superb views of Teide and I took numerous photos of the imposing cone, which dominated the scenery. Eventually, the broad, dusty path veered away to the left and began to ascend the rim of the vast caldera and, once on the top, the scenery became even more impressive as the route crossed and re-crossed the ridge, giving views both to the south-eastern parts of the island to the coast and also to the northern side of the ridge, affording excellent views into Las Canadas. 


Roque de La Grieta
Ahead, the views of the ridge were punctuated by the peaks of Roque de La Grieta, Montaña Pasajiron and in the distance to Montaña Guajara, Tenerife's third highest peak which towers over the parador. After around three and a half hours, I dropped off of the ridge into the pine forest above Arico and headed for El Contador, a recreation/camping/BBQ area high in the pine forest. 


Los Roques de Tamadaya
As I approached El Contador, I discovered a camping area above it called Fuente del Llanos and veered off towards it. Here, I found some fairly level ground and pitched my tent. I spent a peaceful evening watching the sun go down and enjoyed the silence as I sat outside my tent watching the stars. The following morning, I was up early and drank coffee as I watched the sunrise bathing the high mountains I had descended from the day before in a soft, pink light. 


Camping at Fuente del Llanos
After packing up my campsite, I began my descent to El Contador and the Barranco de Tamadaya. Reaching the El Contador recreation zone, I replenished my water supplies from a tap in the barbecue area and passed the Casas del Contador and climbed into the forest towards the Barranco de Tamadaya.

Arico Nuevo
The views into the barranco to the pine-clad Roques de Tamadaya formation were particularly impressive. Eventually, I reached the pretty village of Arico de Nuevo from where I followed a path past wind turbines to El Poris on the coast.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Walking through the Island's Volcanic Past

Montana Samara

I have recently been exploring the area between Montana Samara and Montana Chinyero, site of the island's last eruption. The north-west Santiago rift is littered with many volcanic cones and makes the area a fascinating one for observing the recent volcanic history of the island. I parked at the Montana Samara car-park and followed the obvious path to the summit where I had fantastic views towards the Teno Mountains, Teide and even down towards the south-west coast. 

Views from the summit

The surrounding countryside was a fascinating mix of cinder cones, frozen seas of lava and pine trees, all set to a backdrop of the Teno mountains and nearby islands of La Gomera and La Palma. I stood for some time on the summit absorbing this amazing scene while to my right lay the harsh volcanic hollow of the volcano's crater. Descending, I crossed the road and followed a forest path downhill towards Montana Chinyero, although today, this very familiar cinder-cone volcano was not my objective as I was heading for Montana del Cascajo, another volcanic cone, which lies at a higher altitude. 

Montana del Cascajo

Montana Chinyero erupted in May 1909 and for ten days spewed lava into the surrounding countryside. The lava flowed down into the Santiago valley and threatened the village of Santiago del Teide and neighbouring villages before coming to a halt without causing any damage. 


Views from the summit of Montana del Cascajo

Having reached the start of the path to the summit of Montana del Cascajo , I began the climb to the top, which was quite difficult as the path was almost vertical and the surface was comprised of very deep volcanic soil, which made progress very slow. Once on the top, I skirted around the cone to the highest point where I enjoyed more excellent views over the volcanic terrain and also to Santiago del Teide. 

Volcanic Landscape around Montana del Cascajo


Path through the forest

Montana Chinyero

 Having descended, I followed the easy track through the forest for a while until it became more indistinct before disappearing altogether in an area strewn with yellow birds foot trefoil flowers. Picking my way through this was slow and difficult as I climbed steadily uphill. Crossing a volcanic ridge, I was suddenly confronted by a very rough, frozen sea of Aa lava. 


Malpais

Areas of land such as this in the Canaries are usually called 'malpais' and the literal translation 'badlands' was certainly appropriate in this instance. Fortunately, there was a path, albeit fairly rough and rocky, skirting around the edge of the lava and I picked my way very carefully along this as it headed uphill. Soon, I arrived at a waymarked 'sendero' onto which I turned right and followed it very easily downhill back to Montana Samara and my car.


Teide & Pico Viejo



Monday, 4 July 2016

Climbing El Sombrerito

El Sombrerito from the start of the walk

Since living in Tenerife, I have long had an ambition to climb El Sombrerito, a very distinctive mountain in the National Park. The mountain is instantly identifiable because of the rocky, 'turret' on the top but until recently, I have never found a route to the summit. 

El Sombrerito

Most visitors familiar with the approach to the the National Park from the south will recognise the peak as the road passes below it as you enter the park and with it's very distinctive summit, it's difficult to miss. I set off yesterday in stunning, clear skies, although below, on the coast, it was fairly cloudy and I began my walk near the National Park sign at the side of the road. 

Teide & Pico Viejo

The initial climb was fairly steady but across rough, pathless ground and I had to keep checking my direction to make sure I wasn't straying too low. Eventually, I found a path of sorts that contoured the steep ground below the peak and followed it through the Teide Broom, which proved a bit of a problem because the paths were draped in cobwebs and spiders and being something of an arachnophobe, I spent quite a while clearing them with my walking poles. 

Summit cairn on El Sombrerito

With the combination of rough ground and unwelcome wildlife, progress was quite slow but eventually I reached the edge of the crater rim and began the start of the steep climb to the summit. This first section wasn't too bad as it climbed fairly steeply through rocky terrain but soon, I reached the start of the climb onto the rocky, 'turret' of the summit cliffs. This was fairly vertical in places and required hands as well as feet to pull myself up.

Panorama from the summit


After what seemed a surprisingly short time, I found myself crossing the summit plateau to the summit cairn where I took an extended break to enjoy the simply amazing scenery. The views of the National Park were extensive with Teide, Pico Viejo and Montana Guajara dominating the view. After a long rest break on the summit taking numerous photographs, I began my descent and was soon back at my car after a challenging but exhilarating walk. Click on the 'Wikiloc' symbol in the top right hand corner of the map if you want to download a copy of the GPS track for the walk.



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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