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.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

29 March 2012 Section 8 Sierra del Morrón

Sierra del Morrón

29 March 2012

We have not been on a Sulayr walk since the 10th January. Kees went to visit his daughter in America and came back full of bugs which he proceeded to pass on to everyone else, well you have to blame somebody for all the coughs, colds and snivels that are going around. The weather turned cold, and the snow came down below 2000 metres, and then there were holidays, birthdays, and work to fit in. So this week was the first time we felt confident enough to go back up into the high Sierras.
We decided to head back to where we had finished off last time, on Section 8, and do the last 13 km to Fuente del Espino. This tramo needs a 4X4 because the access road is difficult, and as there were only 4 of us we only needed one car. Over the next few days all the migratory Limpers start reappearing after overwintering in their centrally heated houses and more vehicles will be required if we are all going to turn out.
With another early start we set off on the lower Alpujarra road towards Valor, the access point for the off road bit. I had set the Tomtom to take us to the start of the walk and was a bit surprised  when we got to Valor and she suggested a different route for the off road bit. Last time we had come down the track it was a bit rough so we thought perhaps there was an easier way. Big mistake, I should have known better than to listen to a woman giving directions. Even a donkey would have had difficulty on this track, 180 degree bends, the car pointing skywards ready for a moon launch and the track 2mm wider than the car. Fortunately we were soon on the proper track and we bounced our way up the rutted, boulder strewn road for the next 10 km.
The plan was to park where the Sulayr track joined the forest road, walk the 2 km to Fuente del Espino (last visited 24 April 2011) without our packs, then return to the car, collect our bags and set off in the opposite direction and do the 11 km to Barranco Riachuelo. This would give us a full days, 26 km, walk and get us back into the serious walking again.
We parked where the path set off across country but the track soon became indistinct and we had to navigate across country using the Garmin GPS. On the other sections we have been on the downloaded GPS tracks have been very accurate but on this occasion the guy who had done the track also did not know where he was going. After a 1 km detour we picked up the correct route and soon found ourselves at the fuente where a note on the sign explained that the path was closed for works. This may explain the poor state of the signs and the path. We were able to return to the car, more or less on the right path.
Loading up with our packs we set off again on the next part of the walk. We followed the forest road for 1 km until we came across another sign indicating that we should head uphill across country. The GPS indicated that we should take a different route, we decided to ignore it. At least the Garmin does not nag you by repeatedly saying “turn around”. Remarkably, whilst climbing the hillside, we came across a path marker but with no further sign of the path we continued uphill, heading for the ridge where we hoped to get our bearings. Whilst we had felt recovered from our coughs and colds at lower altitudes up at 2000 metres the strenuous climb was taking its toll. There was no way we were going to complete our route and get back in daylight, and the thought of sleeping rough on the fells with Kees held no appeal.
A new plan was hatched. We would find the Sulayr path markers, have lunch, and then head back to the car, drive to Cadiar for some much needed beer and tapas. It did not take long to pick up the correct path again so we found a comfortable spot, sheltered from a cooling wind that had suddenly sprung up, and had our lunch. We followed the path back towards the car and even though we now knew the layout of the hillside it was difficult to follow. This section certainly does need a lot of work on it.
Whilst we had not completed the original plan we had had a pleasurable day out and we still had time to head for the bar in Cadiar.     

The walkers Mike, Kees, Ray, and myself.

Distance walked on route today, 5 km. Total distance today 11.5 km. Height climbed today 594 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 238.1 km. Distance left to do 61.9 km. Total height climbed 18933 metres. Total distance walked 548.6 km.  

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