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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

10 th January 2012 Section 7 Barranco Yegúer

Barranco del Riachuelo

10 January 2012
For the past few weeks we have been doing various mid week walks, the main one being the GR142, which wonders along in the lower parts of the Alpujarras. Last week we noticed that the snow had retreated above the 2000 metre line on the Sierra Nevadas so we thought it was a good opportunity to do another section of the Sulayr whilst the weather was good.
We decided to return to section 7, we were last here on the 4th March 2011, and spent most of the day walking in low cloud and snow, in the end we turned around when the conditions deteriorated.
Because, at this time of the year, walking in the high Sierras is weather dependent we had two plans, one was to up to Sulayr or the second was another section of the GR142. As both walks were close to Cádiar we left the decision until the final moment on the drive up to Cádiar. There were a few clouds about but the weather looked stable so we decided to go for the Sulayr walk. We drove to the point we had reached last time, enjoying the views we had missed because of the low cloud.
The walk starts by following the Sierra Nevada perimeter track which we keep meeting on our ramblings. After a couple of Kms the path takes what appears to be a short cut, we were unsure as to how much it actually saved, but on our way back we took the long way round and found it to be .5 km shorter than the short cut, plus the short cut climbed over the hill instead of going around it.
The end of Section 7 is at Loma del Lastomer, there is nothing of significance here except it is the point at which Section 8 leaves the road and takes to the hills. The area is heavily forested, and we had noticed a lot of new nests for the processionary caterpillars. What did surprise us was as the day warmed up more and more of the infernal caterpillars appeared on the ground. This is only the beginning of January we don’t normally see them until April/May.
We followed the the track up through the forest on a pleasant path for 3 km, this gave us a total distance of 11.5 km. It was time to think about a spot of lunch before starting the return journey. Finding the perfect picnic spot at the barranco Riachuelo with views over the Alpujarra and the coast we stopped to eat our pack ups.
When we have nothing else to keep us amused our thoughts often turn to such weighty matters as to how high have we climbed or, how far to the next bend, anything that stretches our abilities to the limit. This week it was how long to get back to the car. Kees had the shortest time, and set off determined to win the bet, we tried various stalling tactics along the way but the pace was relentless. At one point there is a straight 3 km incline that climbs some 220 metres. Whilst it is not steep, every time one of us got close to catching him he would quicken the pace, we ended up doing the 3 km in half an hour. Six km an hour up hill is not bad for a bunch of worn out hasbeens. We think Kees was carrying some sort of rocket propellant that he was inhaling.
Unfortunately for Kees we arrived back early and so he incurred penalty points. We took an extended drive back along the route we had walked and at the same time looked for an access point for our next visit.
We were going to stop in Mercina Bombarón for refreshment but we could not find anything so proceeded on to the English bar in Cádiar instead, where Kees redeemed his penalty points and bought beers for us all. Thank you Kees.
It was a good walk in interesting countryside and the weather stayed fine all day.

The walkers Mike, Kees, Ray, and myself.

Distance walked on route today, 11.5 km. Total distance today 22.6 km. Height climbed today 774 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 233.1 km. Distance left to do 66.9 km. Total height climbed 18339 metres. Total distance walked 537.1 km.