The start of it

For a long time, whilst out walking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we have come across footpath signs to Sulayr but we were never able to connect the signs to any known path, they always seemed to point to somewhere high in the Sierra Nevada. Then in August 2009 whilst on the Mulhacen mountain bus Paco, the guide, explained that it was a 300 km circular path running around the Sierra Nevada National park.
Slowly my interest in this walk was aroused, but it always looked like it would be a ambition never undertaken. The path runs around the Sierras at about 2000 meters, and the thought of taking our poor little Renault Kangoo up all those access tracks to the start of a new section of the walk filled me with dread, it was our only car.
In 2011 the chance came to buy another car, and the thought of walking the Sulayr path gained momentum. What was needed were some good buddies to share the experience. My wife has always classed the “The A Team” of the Lecrin Valley Limpers as something out of “The Last of the Summer Wine”. A group of old men who go out in to the mountains for the day and come home raggy arsed, tired and dirty. After careful consultation with fellow team members who jumped at the chance of expeditions into the high Sierras I decided to buy a small 4X4.
This is the story as it unfolds.

Monday, February 28, 2011

February 27th 2011 Estrella

View of Alcazaba and Mulhacen

We had an opportunity on Sunday to combine two walks in one, primarily our walk on Sunday was a Lecrin Valley Limper walk, and we were doing the Vererda de Estrella path. This is a long walk of some 21.5 km with 900 meters of ascent. The path follows a steep sided valley deep into the Sierra Nevada with spectacular views of Mulhacen, Veleta, Alcazaba and a number of other 3000 metre mountains. Part of the route is also a section of the Sulayr path so we can include it as part of our big adventure.
The section that we did starts about 1.5 km from the the San Juan tram terminus, the trams are long gone, but in their hey day they were used to transport copper, lead and silver that had been mined in the Genil valley.
After about 1 hours walking the Sulayr path branches and heads down to a bridge across the Genil, for the next hour the track heads up hill on the Cuesta de los Presidiarios named after the prisoners who were marched this way from Granada to Almeria for onward shipment to the colonies. The path continues as far as the refugio El Cucaracha where it branches off again on its way to Peña Partida, an area we will return to on another day.
We continued on our Estrella walk for a great days walking, including having to take our boots off to cross the freezing cold, fast flowing Rio Genil, well everyone else crossed  that way, I waded across with plastic bags over my boots, perfect dry feet.
Kees was on sick leave with his ankle so our Sulayr sub section of the Lecrin Limpers was reduced to 4. Mike, Ray, Rene and myself.  

Distance walked on the route today 7.4 km
Total distance walked today 21.5 km
Height climbed today 584 metres
Total distance on Sulayr path 15.4 km
Distance left to do 284.6 km
Total height climbed 1403 metres
Total distance walked 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 25th 2011 Soportújar to Puente Palo

Balsa del Almiar

When we announced to the rest of the Lecrin Valley Limpers our plan to form a boys only subgroup to do the Sulayr path we were accused of being sexist because we had not included any girls. Always one to be politically correct we decided that if we had a spare seat, a girl could come along as long as she didn't whinge and talk about cushions, so after taking José last week, this week it was Rene’s turn to play out with the boys.
For our second outing on our big walk it was decided to continue the progress we had made ( or lack of it) from Puente Palo the recreation area above Cáñar. There are no guide lines laid down as to how this walk should be done. So with no higher authority to consult but our selves we will do as we want to do it. We can walk in either direction, or both, and we can combine it with a circular walk. We can also pick and choose which sections to do and when.
Our chosen route took us close by the Buddhist center of O Sel Ling, or place of the clear light, above Soportújar. As we had drive by it to the start of our walk we decided to stop and have a look. Even in the peace and quiet of the mountains, this place appeared to have an extra serenity and we all enjoyed our little diversion.
Continuing our drive up past the Buddhist center we arrived at the start of our walk, and the sign post marking the distance as 6.3 km, after last week this was going to be a challenge.
For the first couple of kms the path follows a drivable track before picking up an acequias (irrigation canal) as it sneaks across the hillside. This was a wonderful 3km long path that winds its way in and out of an old Oak forest. Eventually arriving again at the Puente Palo picnic site, this time with no snow on the ground, we stopped for lunch.
On this week's walk we had the opportunity to turn the walk into a circular one and so we followed the forest road as it headed back towards the Buddhist center. In an effort not to lose too much height I thought we could navigate a short section across the hillside as we could see the road we wanted. Unfortunately just before the road Kees twisted his ankle and we had to leave him by the side of the road. We did offer to shoot him before the wolves got to him but he decided to take his chance. Feeling sorry for him we picked him up half an hour later in the car.
We had a great day out, with glorious sunshine, 
Distance walked on route today 6.3 km
Total distance walked today 16 km
Height climbed today 
Total distance on Sulayr 8.00 km
Distance left to do 292 km
Total height climbed
Total distance walked 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 18th 2011 Puente Palo

It had rained all week, but come Friday the sun was shining and it was looking promising for our first day out walking along the Sulayr path.
The plan was to drive to Cáñar in the Alpujarra, and then take the forest track as it winds its way up to the start of our first section of the walk. At 300km the walk was never designed to be done at one go but it is divided into 19 sections of varying lengths, even this is difficult to do without someone dropping you off at the start and  picking you up at the end. The sections are generally a long way from public transport and are usually at the end of a 15km forest road. Our plan for the walk is that we drive to the start of our chosen section, walk out a reasonable distance and then return to the car.
From the valley floor the conditions did not look too bad, a bit of snow had come down to around 1500 meters but this was nothing for the Boys and Girl from the Lecrin Valley Limpers/ A Team/ All Terrano group/ Sulayr section. This was going to test the new 4X4 but confidence was high we would get to our destination. This confidence soon evaporated when we found the road was covered in sheet ice and, with steep drops to either side and still another 6 km of up hill to go it was decided to park up and walk. The higher we walked the deeper the snow got, and what had looked patchy from Orgiva was in fact about 30cm deep, a wise decision to leave the car.
After a 6 km slog up hill we arrived at the start of our intended walk. The weather was incredible, a deep blue sky, no wind, and temperatures around 18 degrees. Our well laid plans were in disarray but after struggling to get here we had to make a start on our mission. With the sign post pointing to the Puente Palo picnic site, 1.7km away, it was decided this would be our destination for the day.
Lunch was taken at the picnic site once the snow had been removed from the seats. Our return the same way that we had come was a lot easier as we had foot prints to walk in, and by the afternoon the sun had melted a lot the ice. Stopping in Cáñar for refreshment we enjoyed beer on the terrace of a local bar, I say beer advisably here because the ones amongst us who wanted sin cerveza ended up with apple juice. A fantastic day out even if we did not manage to crack off many miles.
Km today 1.7km     Total done 1.7 km     Total left to do 298.3 km