Cold on El Toril
For a while Mike has been talking about doing a walk greater than 26.3 km, this was his previous personal best achieved on an earlier walk , I have kept hoping his silly idea would go away, and leave us just to potter away on our mission to conquer Sulayr. Last week he said he had found a part of section 14 from El Rosal to El Toril that we still needed to do finish, and with a return journey of 28 km it would fulfill his ambition. Not wanting to disappoint the lad we put it down for this weeks challenge. This was not going to be a Micky Mouse walk, it would sort the men from the boys.
The weather has suddenly changed from beautiful Autumn days to wet and unpredictable, but luckily the forecast for our Tuesday walk in the mountains was for sunshine. Once again it was a long 140km drive to the start of the walk, necessitating another 7 am start. We left Rene’s car in Granada and, driving in convoy with Marks trusty little Renault following on behind us, we headed for our start above the village of Huéneja.
We had tried to do a section of this walk on the 3rd of May, but the weather was wet when we arrived so we only managed a short section from La Rosal to Piedra Negra. So our starting point this week should have been La Rosal but I had a better plan. We would park about 3 km short of La Rosal then, without packs, we would have a rapid walk on a level forest road there and back to the car,after that loading up with the packs we would continue on with the next 22 km. The sun was shining as we set off, and whilst not hot it was a pleasant temperature for walking. Or it was until you were walking in the shade when the temperature fell to just above freezing, and then you remembered why you always carried a pack with hat, gloves and a warm jacket in it. The only option was to walk faster, arriving back at the car we discovered we had done 9km.
Now with full packs we set off again, but we let Plym go first to have a few moments on her own. When we were given the all clear to proceed there was no sign of her on the path, she had got herself lost and had only gone 25 metres.
The track headed up hill for a half hour, at the top we stopped for a bite to eat, by now the weather was changing again and the clouds were closing in on us, but the path was well marked and we felt it safe to proceed. For a large part the route is along a forest road. This is until you come to the end of it and it falls over a precipice. No signs, no barrier, no rocks, just a shear drop.
At this point the path takes to the forest again along a delightful meandering path. Our destination was El Toril, but the last time we were here, on the 24th May, there was a bit of confusion as to exactly where it was. Normally at the start of each tramo there is a sign board giving you directions. On this section the board is about 2 km short of the actual point, there must have been a logical reason for this but it escapes me. So we went back to a point we knew we had been to before, this was after Rene was caught making a cross on the road and claiming she put it there last time.
We had a quick lunch but, with the weather continuing to deteriorate, we were soon heading back the way we had come. One thing that has consistently caused a ruckus within the group has been the Pine Marten. Graham first claimed to have seen not one but two back on section 9 to Fuente del Espino. All I said at the time was that we needed a verifiable sighting for me to write it up into our erstwhile journal. All he produced in his defence was Mike who thought he had seen a fox with short legs, given the state of Mike’s eyes it could well have been just that. In this case both Kees and myself saw a short legged, large, cat sized animal with a yellowish tinge to it’s bib climbing a Pine tree, it was not a bloody squirrel as Graham suggested. This was a genuine Pine Marten.
The way back was once again along our outbound route and this time it was mostly a very easy downhill stroll. We celebrated the 26.3 km mark by drawing a line across the road and cheering Mike as he crossed it. We still had just short of 4 km to go to get back to the car so not only did he exceed his record, he smashed it. I have told him anymore records that he wants to break he is on is own.
The weather kept fine all day but at times it was a little chilly and we did need the warm clothing we had with us.
We drove back into Huéneja and eventually found a bar that served delicious tapas. so we will have to call again when we return to this end of the Sierra’s. The only problem was getting out of the Publeo. After driving up and down various blind alleyways made for donkeys we had to switch the Tomtom on to get us out, we had lost Mark somewhere whilst we were doing one of the many multipoint turns, we thought it best if we left him to find his own way home. Unfortunately for Rene when she got back to her car, she had been issued with a €100 fine for parking on a bit of waste land down at AKI. With all the stupid parking that goes on around Granada this just does not make any sense.
For the record it appears that the walk was too much for Graham to handle and he is now on the sick with a bad foot, he is claiming we walked too fast for him.
The walkers Mike, Kees, Rene, Plym, Graham, Mark, and myself.
Distance walked on route today, 14.8 km. Total distance today 29.6 km. Height climbed today 719 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 208.5 km. Distance left to do 91.5 km. Total height climbed 16,035 metres. Total distance walked 470.6 km.