Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hillwalking in Andalucia 8 - La Puerta

Our walking holiday in Spain is becoming more distant now, but it is only 4 weeks ago that we were sweating in brilliant sunshine round the hills behind Frigiliana.  Seems so different now that it is cold and frosty outside and it is getting dark earlier.  Anyway, I've still got a couple of walks to write up here from our time with John and Heather at Pure High

Thursday saw us up and rested, ready for the walk after our day off on the Wednesday.  It was looking like decent weather - a little cloudy so there would be a respite from the baking sun.  John had checked the forecast and looked like it would be ok.  We had a choice of Cielo - the big lump of a hill behind Nerja or something else a bit more interesting.

We went for the interesting option!

We returned to the parking place next to the Nerja Caves where we had been on the Sunday after our first day's walk.  It was familiar now - getting the kit ready, chatting to each other.  John was moving from being a guide to being a friend and we were chatting easily and joking a bit with each other.  It was nice.

We spent the 5 Km walk up to El Pinarillo talking about his previous life in the miliary and then more recently selling cars.  It was an interesting chat and the miles passed quickly.  We were soon past where we had been earlier in the week and we continued up a dry riverbed - a barranco - cutting through increasingly dramatic gorges, still lined with pines.  Sometimes scrambling over easy rocks sometimes just picking our way up the riverbed.

Up ahead were the big peaks we were making for.  After a while, we reached a point where a path cut of left from the barranco and led us up the hill, in smart-arse zigs and zags which easily had us gaining height.

It was great to look back at where we had come from - a canyon behind us that we were climbing out of.

We were into woods - cool pine - and the temparature was comfortable, but as we looked back, we could see clouds coming in.  We were about 1000metres now and had a fair way to climb - we were going up over 1300m -  and the mist was gainign on us quickly.

Looking above we could still see where we were headed, but it kept on getting obscured by the cloud.

Entering more woods, John was getting a bit concerned about the weather as it was starting to mizzle with rain.  We sat under a tree for lunch and he headed off round a corner to see if things improved at all higher up.

When he got back we showed him the snake that we had spotted in a tree near where we were having lunch.  At first we thought it was dead bu then I spotted its little tongue dart out and sniff the air.  It was a viper.

Anyway, it was getting worse and  he was advising that we should really turn back.  Fair enough.  Then again I'd been on hills in a lot worse weather than this!  We dropped down a wee bit and happily the weather improved almost immediately - the cloud blowing through.  It didn't take much to have us back up the path climbing towards the ridge.

We gained the ridge easily at 1300m and through the rain we could see the dramatic peaks surrounding La Puerta - The Door.  Fantastic jaggedy rocks, like something on Skye or in Torridon.  We headed straight for them, contouring around the hill on an unfeasible path punctuated by cairns.  It was not one you would find if you were not familiar with the hill.  Once more we were glad that we were with John.

It was strange at the top - in among pine trees at over 1300metres the wind moving them, making a fairly gentle breeze sound quite dramatic and powerful.

The cloud lower down was obscuring some of the views but it was still an awesome place to stand for a while before we began pickign our way back down the hills and to the track back out.

Typically as we got lower the weather improved and the sun returned.

From El Pinarello back to the car was a long 5Km walk but we marched out pushing ourselves and were out in 50 minutes which was good going.  We were good little soldiers!

The great thing about being up there was that these hills were so distinctive in shape.  Over the following couple of days as we spotted these hills in the distance we would think - Wow, La Puerta.  We were up there!

A superb day!

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