A long-distance project – 2nd stage of the Tenerife GR-131
I have to apologise for a long gap in my blogs. It’s not that I’ve stopped walking, and I haven’t been away from Tenerife, but I have been preoccupied with other things. The first was (and still is) the editing of my walking book on the same subject – Tenerife Nature walks – and the second was a very enjoyable family visit. So now I have to catch up a few walks I want to write about.
So today I am writing about a walk I did with a group on November 23rd! We walked from km 17 on the TF-24, where we finished the first stage, back onto the GR-131 and then all the way to the Caldera near Aguamansa. This was a much longer section of the GR-131 than the first one we did and it would have been better to do a longer section first and make this one shorter. This second stage for us was 22 km long,including the walk in from the road to the path, and involved about 860m of climbing and 850m of descent. It took a group of 15 6.5 hours.
Unfortunately, despite a forecast which was hopeful, the weather was damp and cloudy for much of the walk, which did spoil our enjoyment of the views that might have been available. It had been raining before we started walking but had largely stopped by the time we started, except for a couple of showers. The main water that fell on us was from the dripping trees and shrubs we walked under. However, the weather did give us an appreciation of the qualities of the damper northern forest which we south Tenerife walkers do not often see. The woods were filled with fungi, moss and lichens, and the damp cloudy weather made them feel a bit weird and magical as well.
We had an initial climb up through pine forest with a few shrubs of Tree heaths (Erica arborea) and Escobón (Chamaecytisus proliferus) beneath them we reached a fire-break below the El Gaitero firetower, and then started a short descent. Then began another longer climb, approaching the Montaña de Joco. As we ascended the scenery began to change, with some barranco crossings with more varied plants, and then some giant moss-covered rocks loomed out of the mist.
A bit further on we reached a sign warning of a dangerous section in the path. It was the start of the most dramatic and exciting part of the walk, with great cliffs above us on one side, and steep drops on the other side. There were substantial railings beside the path so it felt very safe. The signboard we encountered told us what views we could see, but the mist was still too thick for us to be able to see them! The cliffs looked as though they were covered in interesting plants but the mist and gloom made it difficult to identify any apart from the rosettes of Golden houseleek (Greenovia aurea) and the big seedheads of Cliff Celery (Tinguarra cervariaefolia). I certainly hope to have a chance to return to this part of the path in the spring to see the plants in flower.
We lunched perched on or around a stone staircase zig-zagging down near the cliff bottom and then continued up past another free-standing rock before starting the long descent to La Caldera recreational park. On the way we walked at the foot of another wall of rock till we reached the junction with the Los Organos walk. By now the sun was breaking through the clouds and brightening the scenery.
The descent continued zig-zagging under pines with some Canary holly (Ilex canariensis) beneath them until we came out on a track where we turned left. We should have continued on this track all the way to the Caldera, and I know the route well, but half-way along there is a red and white GR-131 sign which appeared to point us downhill on a path towards Aguamansa. As we were anxious to follow the actual signposted GR-131 route we took this turning. We soon realised there were no more red and white markers and should have turned back, but continued – making a rather longer and more arduous ending to the walk than necessary since we had to climb again to get back to La Caldera.