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.

Friday, April 6, 2012

3 April 2012 Sierra del Morrón back to Barranco Riachuelo

Enjoying the snow

3 April 2012

The weather has taken a turn for the worse this week, and the forecast for our Tuesday walk was not looking too good. Rain and thunderstorms for the lower slopes, and snow on the tops.
We had 3 plans, Plan A was to continue where we had left off on the Sulayr path last week.
Plan B was to continue along the GR142 on the lower slopes of the Alpujarras. Plan C was to roll over and go back to sleep because it was raining.
It looked like there could be 8 for the walk so we organised 2 cars, Graham has always been keen to test his car on the forest roads of the Sierra Nevadas. We had found this easy way up last week and passed it suitable for Graham’s Audi. In the end we only had 6 for the walk with Rene still not firing on all cylinders after her recent cough, cold and snivels and Mark was suffering from jet lag having only arrived back at 1.30 in the morning, Plym had got back at the same time but was still up for it.
We set off in 2 cars still unsure of our final destination, we would make our decision in Cadiar. After a quick conference in Cadiar we decided that we would head up the mountains and finish section 8 of the Sulayr path, to lighten the load in Graham’s low slung Audi Kees joined us in the 4X4. He was a bit upset when he saw Ray playing with Sally, Kees would also like to,play with Sally but we smack his hands if he tries to touch her, you never know where you are going to end up when he starts messing with her.
When we arrived at the start of the walk, the good weather had passed over and the clouds were starting to build up, another quick conference was held and we decided to press on with our chosen route. We could always turn around if the weather deteriorated and I had estimated that we had only about 9.5 km to walk to Barranco Riachuelo.
The start of the Sulayr path was 1.8 km away up a easily climbed slope, a lot better than last week when we busted our guts getting up there. Finally on the path we set off on a well marked path that led downhill and through a pine forest.  Following an acequia we walked into the barranco of the Rio Mecina which we crossed by way of a bridge, well the bridge was not exactly across the river having been washed downstream sometime ago. Resuming our trail we climbed up to an old shepherd's hut, and, whilst not 5 star, it was waterproof if we needed shelter on our return. The hard part of the walking was now over, the path was level and we made rapid progress for the next 4 km and the turnaround point for today's walk. A slight miscalculation of the estimated distance, the GPS showed we had walked 11 km.
Graham was keen to eat his sandwiches and so lunch was declared, we had no sooner started eating when the weather deteriorated and it started to snow, so donning waterproofs, hats and gloves we ate a quick lunch and set off back for the car. Passing the shepherds up we decided to press on, the thought of a beer in Cadiar was a bigger pull than a night in the hut. I was having trouble seeing where we were going as my glasses were covered in snow, I decided to walk “an naturale”, this was OK, except I could not see the marker posts and Mike had to point them out in the distance. We managed it fine until we got to the river where with with my limited vision I misjudged the stones and slipped. Fortunately I was across before my boots had time to fill up. We were near to the perimeter road and chose this as an easier way back to car, we were all fighting fit after our illnesses and set off up the hill for a racing finish at 5 kmph..
Whilst the views were restricted by the low clouds and we had spent half our time walking in snow we had achieved our objective and had had a good day out, all that was left was the beer and tapas in Cadiar.
If you are wondering about Sally it’s our name for the girl in the Tomtom who sometimes helps us to our destination.
The walkers Mike, Kees, Ray, Graham, Plym and myself.

Distance walked on route today, 8.8 km. Total distance today 22 km. Height climbed today 658 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 246.9 km. Distance left to do 53.1 km. Total height climbed 19591 metres. Total distance walked 570.6 km.  

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