Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tenerife, Spain: Day 5 - Las Cañadas

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While we did see some other types of foliage along the way this is the pant we saw the most. It looks as you pass by pretty dense as if you could lean against it and not much would happen but though the leaves are close to each other you wouldn't want to lean upon it like it were a hedge.

The crater is some 17 kilometers across and surrounded by mountains that rise, in some cases, several thousand feet above the rim. While Mount Teide is clearly the most prominent it is hardly alone though I think it was the only one to be capped by snow. There is a cable-car that you can take and get much nearer the summit of Mount Teide but getting a permit to do so is, if I understand correctly, a challenge. The caldera, which we would walk a portion of, is crisscrossed by many two-tracks and in some places actual trails. It is easy going.

We decided not to chance the potentially steep and scree lined path that would take the harder walk up to the third highest peak of Tenerife. Instead we elected to walk across the Las Cañadas crater and then do an extra couple of miles around a mini-crater. We would miss out on a chance to gaze out from real high but we still ended up doing a very fine walk at about 6,600 feet above sea level under completely clear blue skies.

To reach this place required us to take take a bus ride that was about 80 minutes long. It follows the same twisty road that took us to La CaCaldera a few days before but continued to climb past the tree line into terrain that reminds one a bit of some of the mountainous desert around Palm Springs or perhaps a bit like Sedona though the rock formations here are brown and black and aren't, for the most part, quite as interesting to look upon. When we disembarked the bus along with the other folks who had decided not to do the tougher walk (about 9 of us in all) it was edging past 10:40 and the sun was beaming down on us raising the temperature easily past 60 degrees. We struck out south-south-east across the 17 kilometer wide crater with Mount Teide at our backs and the mountain the people doing the other walk would be scaling off in the distance looming large and steep on one side and somewhat less so on the other. We walked along the dirt two-track past what looked a lot like sage brush but surely are something else: big bushy plants that sport long leaves and look dense but aren't. There was not much other sign of life but I expect life abounds because spots of damp sand existed all over the place and you did not have to dig down far to find much damper ground. Where there is water life is almost certain to follow. Other than our own conversation I did not really notice any sounds about us. But having said this I suspect that the silence that would appear if we had been quiet would feel different than the silences you encounter in the deep desert of the American southwest or the quieter places of the Grand Canyon.

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Looking back along the two-track towards Mount Teide which dominates the northern edge of the crater. As you can see it is a rocky and rough seeming area. Even though we found damp patches of sand now and then I don't think I ever saw anything even remotely resembling an oasis of green.

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Not long before we would stop for lunch we worked our way around this rock formation. Things like this helped make the otherwise flat walk along the two-track interesting.

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Our lunch spot. The group consists of (left to right): unsure of name, Heather, Vince, Judy, Jonathan, Janet, Graham, Linda.

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Look in the right direction from pretty much anywhere and you can find Mount Teide rising up on the northern edge of this greater crater.

This was an easy walk along two-tracks that gained about 100 feet and in the last stretch lost 600 feet as it worked its way across the crater towards the Parador hotel and visitor center. As we walked we gazed out across the crater to the highlights that are the mountains upon the rim. Key amongst them is Teide.

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Our walk into the mini-crater, using route #3, would take us past this interestingly curved rock formation. We would see it from a view vantage points as we walked the 2.5 mile loop. If you have limited time and don't mind steady climbing and descending on sometimes gravel-based trail then do this walk. It's not far from the Parador cafe. There are many such walks in this area and some are, I have no doubt, quite a bit more challenging than this one.

Until we began the descending portion of the 2.5 loop I don't think we realized the Moon was out. Had it not been pointed out to me I am certain I would not have seen it.


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This walk would take us approximately 6 miles across the Las Canadas crater which is in the National Park of Mount Teide, Tenerife, Spain. We would also do an extra 2.5 mile walk through a subsidiary crater which featured many more rock formations and considerably more ascent and descent. All done on a glorious January day.

When we reached the visitor center after a nice three hours of walking and a few enjoyable breaks we arrived at Parador. The line for coffee seemed a bit too daunting to me so I gave up and  joined the rest of the group for a sit in the sun at a picnic table. We had a couple hours to kill before the scheduled departure so Vince took some of us (me, my parents, Graham, Linda) on a loop hike that would take us down around several grand rock formations into a small subsidiary crater. This would turn out to be about a 2.5 mile trek featuring about 520 feet of descent and perhaps just a little less ascent most of which would happen in the last 1.25 miles of the loop. We wound our way around the base of one great tower, past a curved formation that if you looked at it right could be seen as a peculiar drinking horn or maybe a rough hewn seat for a titan, and towards the mini-crater. We worked our way along the level ground along the first portion of route 3 moving counter-clockwise like everyone else we saw doing the same route. At the halfway point Graham decided to turn back and the rest of us began working our way down the rocky, but still good footing, twisting trail down and down and down. It was nice to be walking along a true trail instead of a two-track. Sure it was slower going for me but the scenery certainly made up for it. We even had a glimpse of a near-full (maybe full) Moon just above a two-pronged rock formation. The ascent, when it came, took considerably less time even when you consider that it probably was only about 75% of the descent. We followed switchbacks that were generally built upon excellent tread-way of either hard-packed dirt or rock. It was definitely easier going than the mixed bag of the descent. We ended up walking through this intricate mini-crater in a little more than an hour but when you add in time for breaks we were probably away closer to 90 minutes. It was a great way to extend what we really up to the start of this loop merely a gentle stroll. I would recommend visiting this area to anyone who enjoys walking even though getting to this area is a bit of a schlep.

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