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.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

10 April 2012 Section 10 - 11 Barranco Paterna to Barranco Horcajo

El Cerecillo

10 April 2012 Section 10 - 11 Barranco Paterna to Barranco Horcajo

Typically for Spain the weather over the Easter holiday has been wet, no matter what date Easter is, you can guarantee it will rain, or, like last week, snow.
With this in mind we specified wet weather gear for the walk again this week and, as we were making the long drive up the Alpujarras on Tuesday morning, it looked like we would be wearing them before the day was out.
We have a 17 km section, parts of 10 and 11 still left to do, it was far too much to do in one day as it would have involved a round trip of 35 km and some 1600 metres of climbing. I had devised a plan to split it into two parts, one of 20km and the other 15km, with both walks setting off from the same place. I had discovered a driveable track, well I thought I had discovered a drivable track, on Google Earth, which would take us right to our starting point for both sections and we could then make a decision as to which way to go when we got there.
The drive up to Laujar de Andarax was uneventful, we were in two cars, mine and Marks trusty little go anywhere Renault. Sally in the Tomtom was programed to find us the route, and this week, to keep Kees happy, we let him play  with her. She navigated us through Andarax and down to the river which was going to be our route up to our starting point. The track was obviously not well used, which surprised me a little as there appeared to be a lot of Cortijos close to the road. We bounced along over boulders in the river bed or occasionally on what might be described as the road. After a couple of Kms, and with still another five to go, we ran out of road, it had been washed away in a storm. We had two choices we could walk from here adding another 10 km to whichever hard walk we were doing, or we could try and find another access point. When I was the planning the route I had noticed another forest road 5 km away so we turned around and headed back to Andarax. The new road would take us up to El Cerecillo the end of tramo 10 and start of 11. This was a good road, in fact I think it was the best one we have been on up to the Sulayr path, and we made rapid progress as we climbed up to 1700 metres. By the time we arrived the clouds had parted and the sun was shinning.
Setting off from El Cerecillo we headed west on section 10 towards the rio Paterna which we had  walked to on the 27 September 2011. The last time we were there we had seen Golden Eagles up close and we were all looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with these magnificent birds. The path was through pine forest and then across abandoned farm terraces as the path descends 300 metres into the Paterna Barranco. It was a wonderful way down with long range views over to Contraviesa but sadly no sign of the eagles. After a short break for water at the bottom we turned around and headed back up the hill, stopping only once for a couple of minutes. Everyone is keen to get their fitness levels back up to what they were last year. Another couple of walks like this and we'll all be super fit again.
We arrived back at the car with plenty of time to spare, it was a shorter walk than originally planned. So we decided to continue along section 11 for another 3.5 km to the Barranco del Horcajo. This week Mike was the one with the heavy legs, normally he’s at the front of the pack urging everyone on, but we found him languishing at the back a number times complaining his get up and go had gone. In deference to him we stopped before we climbed down into the Barranco knowing we would have climb straight back out again, we will save that pleasure for another day. Turning round we headed back to the cars.
We had hoped to do this 17km section of the walk in two parts but with our plans in disarray, after our off road expedition in the river bed, it now looks like we will have to do it in three bits.
Driving back we took a roundabout route through the pueblos of Paterna del Rio and Bayárcal, the latter looks worth exploring, and on to Cadiar where we stopped for a beer and a bit of tapas before arriving home around 7pm.
The weather was ideal but by the time we got home the wind had got up and the temperature had dropped, signaling a change in the weather once again.
The walkers Mike, Kees, Ray, Graham, Plym, Mark and myself.

Distance walked on route today, 7.8 km. Total distance today 15.7 km. Height climbed today 636 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 254.7 km. Distance left to do 45.3 km. Total height climbed 20227 metres. Total distance walked 586.3 km.  

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