Thursday, 24 November 2016

Day 2 0f Hiking in the Alpujurra in Spain

1st November

14 kms, 5 hours, 385 m ascent and 520 m descent.

After the celebrations in our plaza the previous evening, the morning dawned clear and peaceful. We set off with a spring in our step, in the crisp morning air, enjoying the crystal clear light across the Poqueira Valley. We felt confident that for at least the 1st 1/2 hour of the day, we would know where we were going. 

After descending to Bubion, it was a steep climb to 1565 m. Thankfully the trail had very few steps or rocks to negotiate.

Capileria in the distance. Bubion in the foreground.

And still climbing higher!

The summit appeared to be getting closer.

Finally - 1 1/2 hours later!

The next half hour gave us respite, the trail gradual, until the descent down to the village of Capileirilla began.

 This marker was easily spotted. Some weren't.

Following the notes looks simple, but if you forget to keep an eye on your distance travelled, then several options appear to be correct, or you have gone too far.

As we made our descent, I was grateful I wasn't in Australia and staying alert for snakes. Silly me. Frank suddenly called out to step right. This fellow had already passed Frank and caught up to me, but thankfully it soon headed off the track. Research has informed me that there are 13 different snakes in Spain, 5 of which are venomous. I believe this to be just a viper.

There were very few wildflowers, but this yellow bush brought a splash of colour to the otherwise brown, arid terrain.

Coming out of holm oak woods, we were greeted by this lovely vista, but we were to drop right down into this valley and then back up again.

In Capileirilla, we just couldn't locate a right turn to be taken. Suddenly we were on the edge of the village and enjoying the wonderful autumn colours of this tree. After looking at our map, the decision was made not to retrace our steps, but to follow the road to Pitres. The peacefulness was soon disturbed by the continuous honking of a horn and we wondered what on earth it was. The answer took me back to my childhood - the bread delivery van.

The leafy green on either side of the road was a lovely relief from the browns of most of the trail.

Our plan worked. We sat here and had lunch before attacking a steep descent to Mecina.

Even though I may dwell on the brown palette of most of this hike, we were still amazed at the productiveness of this steep, dry, rugged terrain. All along the paths, in gardens and on farms, there is an incredible variety of produce growing. The sound of trickling water accompanied us regularly, but was hidden in the network of channels for irrigation.

I included this one for Nathalie of,
The grape vines were readying for winter.

As was this tree.

Interesting path down......

to Mecina.

The notes had told us to look for a large threshing circle. We would see many of these over the next few days. Found! Now for the next clue.

I was impressed with where this grapevine was growing. Another oft seen spectacle.

Time for some official road walking, as we begin to ascend again.

It was All Saints Day weekend, so families were tending the graves of their loved ones.

As we gained elevation, the constant humming of a helicopter was heard. We couldn't see smoke, but there was a bushfire in the next valley and the helicopter was dumping water on it. A small aircraft also flew over twice, spraying retardant. 
Taking a breather, we enjoyed the view back to the villages we had visited.

Next, the village of Ferreirola.

I wonder how old this vine is and growing through concrete!

 Many villages had water fountains and wash houses. This one was the clue to turn left.

This area is one of many areas of Spain, hoping for heavy falls of rain soon. November is one of their wettest months and none had fallen.

Atalbeitar, another delightful white village.

Finally after the last steep climb of the day, we arrived in Portugos. We followed the notes to the village church up this road and then discovered that our hotel was actually at the entry to the village.

The church bell tower.

After a refreshing shower we sat on our balcony and soaked up the sounds and beauty of the valley. Dogs barked, birds twittered and goat bells tinkled. The sunset colours added to the tranquility.  After dinner, the lights of the villages shone brightly. I wish my camera could have caught them more clearly.

We were footsore and the knees just a tad tired, but this had been an amazing day of hiking. I would love to read your comment.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Day 1 of Hiking in the Alpujurras in Spain.

31st October

The day began with a 2 1/2 hour bus ride from Granada to Capileria.

1 1/2 hours were spent climbing high into the Sierra Nevada on a steep, constantly winding road with little between the edge of the road and the valley far below. Initially we had chosen the wrong side of the bus, but eventually 2 seats on the opposite side were vacated and we quickly moved.
The terrain was incredible and its land use by the Spanish astonishing.

In Capileria, we were delighted with the view from our room.

We were 'croosing' by 1.30 pm - 9.4 km circuit - Capileria, Bunion, down to the Poqueria River and back to Capileria. 350m [mostly steep] ascent and descent.

All the village homes in this area are white with gorgeous chimneys.

The narrow, cobbled alleyways were endlessly photographed, as were the hanging baskets of geraniums and other colourful flowers.

Setting off.
The view back down the valley we had driven up. [ our zig zag road in distance.]

If only more of the trail had been this easy.

Village of Bubion

Water channels and storage are a constant feature everywhere we hike. It amazes me how so much land can be cultivated in such a dry mountainous area. The sound of trickling water accompanies us regularly, but its source is rarely seen.

It wasn't planned, but it's such a joy to me to be here in autumn.

And now the descent to the river begins, with quite a few hiccups in following our printed directions.

The ruggard Poqueria River valley.

Having crossed the river, the trail took us high above the river course with views back to Capileria, our destination.

Another crossing has been made and the steep haul up to our village is eased by the beauty of these poplars.

The disadvantage of these villages is, that to get anywhere, you either have to walk up or walk down. Having reached the edge of Capileria it was a long walk up. Passing this lovely out door bar, we promised ourselves a nice cold beer when we reached our plaza. Alas, the time had just turned 5. Today was La Mauraca Festival and the bars were shutting early to join in the festivities in our plaza, accompanied by LOUD music. We are not sure whether the festival was related to Halloween or All Saints Day, but it was a 4 day weekend. The atmosphere of locals meeting together was wonderful, if only they could have turned down the music a tad.

Our plaza and the early roasting of chestnuts to be eaten with the drink anise.

We managed to sleep and woke to a tranquil plaza and sunrise.

As part of our visit to Spain, we included 7 days walking in the Alpujurras  in the Sierra Nevada. We have used the company MacsAdventure to organise accommodation, transfer of luggage, maps and walking notes. What a fantastic start to our week.