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Posts Tagged ‘forest’

The views are well worth the uphill slog.

The views are well worth the uphill slog.

I woke up yesterday to one of those perfect summer mornings. The sun shone down from a cloudless sky, the birds were in full voice and the warm air carried the scent of the last of the jasmine. On the mountainside above us, the ochres, mustards and russets of Mount Teide saturated the skyline.
In short, it was the perfect day for taking to the hills.

It’s been a while since our last ‘serious’ walk so I knew the 600 metre ascent from the La Caldera forest pista to the top of the ridge was going to make itself known to my legs and lungs, and I wasn’t wrong.
Stripping layers and pinning hair up as I went I found myself sweating, gasping and grunting my way up the forest path whilst bitching about the 3 litres of water, waterproofs, sunscreen, lunch etc. that I was carrying in the rucksack.

After an hour and a half of re-staging ‘The Hill’, we finally arrived at the

Stunning scenery comes as standard on the La Caldera walk

There aren't many walks where scenery like this keeps you company

stone gate that marks the end of the ascent and took a well deserved break on a promontory looking out over the entire valley with Teide shimmering above the emerald carpet of the Corona Forestal.

For me, this is where the best part of this walk begins. A fairytale dappled path twists, undulates and zigzags its way along the ridge through forests filled with the heady perfume of broom, pine and a multitude of endemic plants with the omnipresent Teide above and the shimmering Atlantic below. It’s a hiker’s paradise up here.

Then we rounded a corner to see something absolutely unspeakably, outrageously incongruous in this rustic Eden; a red wire barrier had been placed right across the path with a sign showing a hand raised in ‘STOP’ position and the words “Alto! No Pasar!” written above it.

Thats what we think of that!

That's what we think of that!

Gobsmacked, we stood and stared at the obscene article before saying almost in unison “Fuck that!”

There is NO WAY that I have huffed and puffed my way for an hour and a half up a 600 metre ascent to be told by some ‘job’s worth’ medio-ambiente worker that I have to turn back.
The sign was given all the respect it deserved and climbed around.

If we arrive at something that seems dangerous or if there’s some kind of activity that we’re encroaching on, we reasoned, then we’ll turn back. But as far as we could see, there was absolutely nothing going on and no earthly reason for the sign to be there.
For the next 6 or 7 kilometres we hiked along the path with no visible sign of

Drama and beauty - if you look closely youll see me holding the handrail on this particularly vertiginous section of the walk.

Drama and beauty - if you look closely you'll see me holding the handrail on this 'squeaky bum' section of the walk.

any activity at all save for a couple of green plastic bags into which forest debris had been cleared and a few bags of cement and some large plastic containers of water lying by the side of the path at one corner.
Eventually we arrived at the other side of this ludicrous path closure and similarly climbed over that to descend through the forest and back to La Caldera.

I’m not advocating anarchy when it comes to warning signs on Tenerife, but with a little bit of commonsense and caution exercised, don’t assume that ‘access denied’ signs on this island are either current or necessary, because sometimes they simply aren’t.

The ‘La Caldera’ walk is available to buy on PDF, sent straight to your inbox

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An idyllic, if somewaht dusty, haven of warm, pine scented tranquility

An idyllic, if somewhat dusty, haven of warm, pine scented tranquility

We gathered up the dead pine needles into a thick square onto the hard baked earth. The needles pricked my fingers and sent clouds of dust into my nose causing an avalanche of sneezes. There were sharp stones, large boulders, tree roots and suspicious looking tissues dotted around the forest floor. We cleared a space as best we could and placed the groundsheet onto the pine needles, attempting to correct a 15° slope by the addition of further needles and creating an echo avalanche of sneezes.
By the time the fly sheet was on and the tent pegs were being hammered into the earth, we were both covered in dust and I had the equivalent of a bad head cold. Hmm, the benefits of fresh air and ‘back to nature’ pursuits.

We’d decided on a hike to Paisajes Lunar near Vilaflor and needed an early start so it was the perfect excuse to enjoy a Tenerife drive up into the pine forests around Teide National Park and try out one of the free campsites that Tenerife has to offer.

Further along the ‘zona de acampada’ or camping area, were two small and one medium sized tent occupied by five boys and two men; presumably a ‘boys and dads’ camping weekend. Other than that, the zone was empty.

It was difficult to see what had determined this area as the camping zone. The ground was exactly the same hard, uneven, stone strewn pine forest as the rest of the park and there were no facilities of any kind.
The only reason we had chosen our spot was because the car couldn’t go any further on the jagged terrain and the ground disappeared on either side into steep barrancos. The amount of space where it was actually possible to pitch a tent at all was minimal and the only nod to the needs of campers was the proximity of the toilet block which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a hole in the ground with a flush pipe and a sink with no water. That explained the tissues.

When the tent was pitched and the guy ropes taut, we cracked a couple of beers and sat in quiet (apart from my sneezing) contemplation of the warm solitude of the pine forest. Three more sets of campers arrived before dusk and there was a flurry of activity as tents were pitched, suppers were prepared and eaten and lamps were lit as the darkness crept like a silent thief amongst us and stole every last vestige of light.
This is Teide National Park, over 2000 metres above sea level in an area of forbidden light pollution; when darkness comes, it’s complete.

Little by little stars began to appear above us and instinctively, one by one, we extinguished our lamps and torches until there was nothing but the night’s canvas to fill our vision. Familiar constellations like the plough and Orion were lost in the multitude of tiny lights that penetrated the black. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, more and more stars appeared until it seemed like the entire sky was one vast Milky Way intermittently slashed with the fiery trails of shooting stars which appeared, streaked and faded before I could even raise a finger to pinpoint their location.

By the time we came back from our hike the following day, all the other campers had packed up and left, leaving the forest and the star studded cosmos to just us; the last two people on earth.

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