Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tenerife, Spain: Day 6 - Anaga Peninsula

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I think we started the harder walk near the village of Cruz del Carmen (see map.) We were dropped off at a lonely, not open, cafe that sat amongst a couple other buildings. We would start the walk with a lengthy descent but after Sylvia's fall, not far into the walk, we had to hang out by the closed cafe waiting for the ambulance and coach to pick up Sylvia (and I think it was Karen who went with her) and the rest of us respectively (Vince stayed with us as he needed to make sure the rest of the group got to where it needed to get too).

The plan was to do the tougher walk today starting up high near Cruz del Carmen, head down the ridge line towards the village of Taborno, through more valleys into the hamlet of Las Carboneras (sp), and end up at the village at the end of the road called Chinamada which we were took had superior views of the Atlantic Ocean. That was the plan. The reality ended up being a bit different. We all rode in congenial silence most of the way along the narrow twisting roads into the Anaga Peninsula. This is the northeastern tip of Tenerife and as we drove on and up we came to realize that we were in for yet another treat. The valleys were deep and lush. More lush than we had seen thus far.It was clear we would be seeing different forests and terrain than we had seen on any of the previous walks. The walk that came closest to what we were now seeing was the second day's traverse along the escarpment above the organ pipes through the Canary Pine forest but that is only because it sported mountain vistas of a slightly similar nature.

Those of us doing the tougher walk were dropped off first. We had a sizable group  were ready for a fine 8 mile trek. The walk would have considerably more descent than ascent. We were expecting around 2,800 feet of descent and about 1,600 feet of ascent. The people doing the "easier" walk of 5.5 miles would have about 1,380 feet of descent and 1,180 feet ascent. Our walk would merge with the easier route when we passed the town of Taborno. But circumstances intervened before we got more than 50 meters. The walk started out on descending, slippery, trail and Sylvia slipped and fell badly. Badly enough that she could not go on. Badly enough that her wrist began to swell noticeably straight away. VInce, the HF leader today, sprang into action and with some help of others (I hope they were not in the way) he got things sorted out as best as could be managed. An ambulance was called and the waiting began. For us the waiting would end up being about 90 minutes with the ambulance arriving perhaps an hour into that period. Vince had managed to get in touch with the bus company and through them the driver so the coach was able to come back and pick us up and ferry us down the mountain. After all it was obvious we were not going to do the entire walk anymore. Sylvia's waiting is, sadly, perhaps still going on as I type this entry this evening but when she left us she was in good spirits and I suspect she still is though maybe a bit bored and put out by now. The group pulled together wonderfully and the things that we could control and handle I think we did pretty well. Kudos.

As we rode in the coach down the mountain heading to the village of Las Carboneras where we hoped to link up with Cathy's group of "easier" walkers we were surprised to see them not far along a mountain trail just off the road. It turned out they had spent a fair bit of time in Taborno before heading out and we were catching up to them on the bus. We pulled over and soon joined our group to their group (with a couple exceptions). By now it was a little after 12:00. The trail at this point is mostly hard packed dirt with a few steps thrown in. It is a reasonably wide path and when not slippery with mud provides solid footing but the valleys that open out to one side do create vertiginous views and if you do not have a head for heights they can be a bit overwhelming. Linda found them so (perhaps she was shaken by Sylvia''s fall too but she never did like descents) so we ended up dividing the group of everyone up into those that would rather walk the quiet road to Las Carboneras and those who preferred to hike the mountain path.

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Taken at a turning point along the twisting steep trail not far from the place we were dropped off at by the bus (see map.) It is just after noon and the groups have merged though Linda, Vince, and I think one other ended up walking the quiet tree lined and twisting road to Carboneras. The trail though steep allowed for pretty sure footing and it was quite enjoyable walking down into the lush forested valleys. We did not see the ocean all that much.

The path was lovely to walk. This area of the island is definitely the richest in flora and perhaps fauna we have walked through. Not only did we see a perfusion of wildflowers, succulents, ferns, and trees we also heard quite an assortment of birdsong. The views down into the valleys were wide and impressive. Even more impressive when you noticed the terraced slopes being cultivated with who-knows-what. Despite the problems we had encountered earlier in the day this not-so-easy walk (recall we are now doing the portion of the walk that was called the "easier walk") was turning out to be quite special.

I believe we dropped down into two distinct valleys before climbing out to Las Carboneras. The few damp and muddy spots reminded one to take care as he or she trod the dirt trail but in general the footing was quite good. But this was far from a simple stroll. At about 13:35 we climbed the last rock step past cultivated terraces (and at least one fellow working them) into the village. Lunch was had along the side of the road; definitely not one of our better lunch spots except that we could gaze back across the valleys we had crossed and marvel.

At 14:00 we shouldered our day packs for the last few kilometers walk to Chinamada. Those people taking the road went one way while the bulk of the group went the other. We were going to climb over the mountains, march along a ridge line, and drop down the other side into the village. I suspect the distance for this leg of the hike is about 4.5 to 5.0km. I expect that total distance we walked today is somewhere between 7 and 8km. The climb was moderately steep and steady along good path. We met two people who I feel certain must be a local older couple. They wished us well as we passed them heading in the opposite direction. The sun beat down upon us as we climbed to the top of the mountainside and then we began our descent with a bit of extra up thrown in for good measure. The views opened up and we enjoyed the simple pleasure of gazing out on verdant valleys below. Then we heard the bleating of goats.

We were approaching a hillside homestead with a sheep fold. The animals looked to be in superb shape and given their reaction to us, very curious and friendly, I am sure they see many walkers pass by their enclosure. We left them to their devices and soon after began the last drop down into Chinamada. By now we had caught several glimpses of the brilliantly blue-green Atlantic and much nearer to hand the bulk of our blue sided bus loomed in our view. The walk was completed not long after 15:15 which gave those folks who wanted to plenty of time to make the 20-30 minute hike out to a viewing point on a spit of land. For my part, and quite a few others too, I was happy to settle down in the courtyard of the tan cafe and have an ice cream and a beer. The view from this very well kept collection of buildings may not have been quite as wide as what the people who did the final extra bit of walking saw but it was enough for me. This day, that started so roughly, ended for most of us I think exceptionally well. That is a credit to the HF leaders and the island of Tenerife.

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The view from just outside of the cafe we ended our hike at. Their are a few houses here too but overall it is a pretty small village at the end of the road. However, there were other people in the cafe besides us so life does thrive around here. For those of you who are curious the picture was taken in this area (see map.) Some people would take a 20 minute, roundtrip, walk to the tip of the peninsula to get a better view but like my parents and a few others I was happy to hang out at the cafe and have ice cream and a beer.

A hike on the north eastern tip of Tenerife in the Anaga Peninsula region. We were going to start up the mountains somewhat closer to Cruz del Carmen but had to change our plans after an injury was sustained by a hiker near the start of the hike. Instead we started just a few kilometers east of Carboneras having joined the folks doing the "easier" walk. We strolled through laurel forests full of flowers and other plants, into valleys, and across mountains ranges to reach the village of Chinamada and a fine view of the Atlantic Ocean.

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