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, May 26, 2012

22 May 2012 Section 11 Barranco Aguadero.


22 May 2012 Section 11 Barranco Aguadero.

We had plans this week to walk the full 19.5 kms of section 2, we had organised 4X4 transport to drop us off and then meet us at the finish. All this planning was to no avail as it snowed on Sunday evening and the whole path was under snow. Don’t get me wrong, snow looks fantastic on the mountains, and short sections of it on the path are fine, but we don’t do all day treks in it.
Plan B was put into operation, we would return to last weeks turn around point on section 11. The road down to this point is a little rough but Mark had thought he would be able to get his trusty little Renault down to it. Unfortunately over the weekend it had developed a wheel bearing problem and taking it down the forest road might have turned it into a three wheeler. So we pressed Kees’s Transit into service but we knew we would not be able to get this down the rough bit. With the Suzuki now repaired, and running better than ever, we decided to use it as a shuttle bus over the last 5 km of track to the start of the walk.
We made good time on the journey up and, leaving Kees’s van at the picnic site, we set about ferrying everyone to the start of the walk. This did not delay us much and we were soon all in place at the start of the walk.
We had set out last week to do this section and more, but it was oppressively hot and not suitable for a hard day’s walk, but today it was ideal, warm and sunny with a nice breeze. The path starts by following the forest road a short distance before heading down to a shady river crossing. From here the path is uphill following the barranco Aguadero for the next 6 km, for much of the time the path is in forest and we said we would come back again in the Autumn when the Chestnut trees were in full colour. Our destination was Collado de los Huertectcillos and we were last here on the 22 September 2011, it was great to visit the place again, but it also means we have completed all Northern, Southern and Eastern sections of the walk and we only have 33 km left to do, all local at the Western end of the walk.
A few weeks back Graham pulled a ligament in his knee and it keeps locking up on him. The only way he can keep it moving is by walking fast, but because he is walking the same route as us he keeps having to double back on himself to keep us in sight, it’s like having a dog with you, you feel like throwing him a stick to fetch. On the way back he decided to forego the shuttle bus and instead opted to walk the extra 5 km back to where we had left Kees’s van. So while the rest us had a lazy stroll back and a relaxing break under the Chestnut tree, Graham was pounding along the tracks and forest roads that led back to the picnic place.
With another shuttling of the group we met up again for our journey back home but first came the most important part of our day out. Which bar were we going to in Cadiar, it has to be Cadiar because they don’t serve tapas in Almeria provence, but there was a rebellion brewing amongst the lower ranks, Rene and Mark were pressing for a change of bar, I think they were hoping for a better tapas, something with meat in it. In the end, for the sake of unity of the group, I relented in my autocratic leadership and allowed them to choose the bar.
Last week on the journey back, some 6 km short of Cadiar the Suzuki had lost all its power and we had to limp into Cadiar, after having it fixed I was confident it would be fine but at exactly the same spot the same fault reappeared and once again we limped into Cadiar.
The two rebels had found a new bar on the way into Cadiar where we stopped for our long anticipated drinks. I promise I did not say a word to the waiter, but it was funny when the other table got meat tapas we got cheese. If all democracy can produce is a cheese sarni I think it’’s back to the dictatorship next week.
It was a great day out, I have really enjoyed the walks at this end of the Sierras.
The car was returned to the garage where it caused a lot of head scratching, the main conclusion reached, don’t drive on this bit of road into Cadiar. It’s a good job we have finished this end of the walk.

The walkers Mike, Kees, Ray, Graham, Rene, Mark, Clare and myself.

Distance walked on route today,8.9 km. Total distance today 17.8 km. Height climbed today 753 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 267.3 km. Distance left to do 32.7 km. Total height climbed 21513 metres. Total distance walked 617.1 km.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

15 May 2012 Section 11 Barranco Horcajo

Barranco Horcajo

15 May 2012 Section 11 Barranco Horcajo

We have had a few weeks off the Sulayr walk, in part because we have had some late heavy snow, in fact we had more snow in April than we did in the winter months. Also I got fed up of driving up through Cadier to the far distant remaining sections of the walk.
Our plan this week was to complete tramo 11, we still had a 12 km section left to do. Careful research with the maps showed a forest road going down into the Barranco del Aguadero, the last time we had tried to get there we found that the road had been washed away, this time we had a back up plan as well.
We had our usual 7.45 start for the 120 km drive up through the Alpujarras to Luajar de Andarax. From Andarax you then take a twisting forest road as it climbs high into the Sierra Nevada. It’s not a fast road, with all the bumps, potholes and hairpin bends it is a road to be driven carefully. So it was a surprise to discover that a wagon was gaining on us rapidly, it was a bigger surprise when someone said it was an Honey wagon, why would anybody want to take a wagon full of s**t up this road? It turned out this was a true Honey wagon, i.e one that collects honey made by Bees, not the smelly stuff made by humans.
When we came to the road that went down into the barranco it did not look too promising, so we went for the second option and drove a little further to where we had finished walking last time.
The walk follows a twisting little track as it goes down into the Horcajo barranco and then across the holm oak covered Loma Raspa, this was a superb path but as we headed down into the Barranco del Aguadero, our thoughts turned to the return journey. The temperature was going up fast and the thought of climbing back up to the car after walking 20 km was a little daunting. Another plan was hatched, we would follow the barranco downhill and turn the walk into a circular one coming back up the road we should have driven down. We could then check the road out for the next time. The only problem was Ray, he has been tagged and has to explain to Caroline what he has been up to if he records less than 32,000 steps. I think it is to stop him going off with the twelve swedish girls when we find them!
Whilst we did not clock up a great distance either on the Sulayr path or the walk in general, with the unseasonably high temperatures we were experiencing I think we had all had enough, and besides we would have more time in the bar in Cadiar.
On the drive back the Suzuki suddenly lost power, we stopped and checked what we could, finding nothing obvious we set off again for Cadiar where we found a mechanic who told us we would make it home to our valley.
After stopping for drinks and some tapas we headed safely home, the car behaved itself and a faulty turbo servo valve was replaced the following day.

The walkers Mike, Kees, Ray, Graham, Rene, Mark and myself.

Distance walked on route today,3.7 km. Total distance today 13.00km. Height climbed today 533 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 258.4 km. Distance left to do 41.6 km. Total height climbed 20760 metres. Total distance walked 599.3 km.