A long-distance project – 3rd stage of the Tenerife GR131
Last Wednesday the group did the third stage of the GR131, from La Caldera, near Aguamansa, to El Portillo in the Teide National Park. Despite the recent variable weather, we had a very good day. As the bus took us to the north of the island to start the stage, we looked up to Teide, to blue sky and not a cloud in sight. We did see a few clouds later in the day, but they did not spoil our enjoyment of the views.
Setting off from La Caldera at about 10.30, the path immediately plunged downhill through woods composed mainly of Tree heaths (Erica arborea), with a few Canary hollies (Ilex canariensis) and Faya (Myrica faya) amongst them. The stones beneath were thick with moss. Shortly we came to the road, with a tunnel underneath for us to cross it, and then we continued downwards through more woods. All the group had concentrated their minds on the 1000m of climbing we had to do that day, and had forgotten that I had said we went downhill first! After a while, the downhill slope became more gentle, but still with little ups and downs, and still in the woods, now with other species like the Canary ivy (Hedera canariensis) and Canary guelder rose (Viburnum rigidum).
We crossed a narrow tarmac country road, with the first view down to the coast, and immediately the path descended into a small open space with picnic tables, the Cruz de Dornajito. Crossing this to exit on the other side we saw a wooden staircase leading down to a small cross with some flowers around it. A signboard explained that this was the site of a spring. Continuing on the path we came to an open area with fields of potatoes, and further views to the coast and the steep side of the Orotava valley. Here I snatched a photo of a violet on a field bank. I think it was Viola odorata, though I did not have time to examine it or smell it as my group was already breaking away from me in their eagerness to get the climb over. After traversing this area with gentle climbing, the steep climbing section began.
The initial steep climb was on a rough stony surface, passing through an area of Faya (Myrica faya), with some Canary strawberry trees (Arbutus canariensis) among them. Many of the Faya had berries on them (they are dioecious, that is the male and female flowers are on separate trees), and the Canary strawberry trees or, to use their local name, madroños, were in flower. I saw a local native bumble bee (Bombus canariensis), with a silver bottom, visiting the flowers but was unable to get a photo.
Above this area we passed through an area of low shrubs, then the path turned to the right and passed a bench beside the path, opposite which was a Canary willow tree (Salix canariensis). Soon after this we passed into fairly open pine forest with exposed rocks beneath, and the occasional Tree heath too. Under the pine trees we decided we were about half-way and would stop for lunch.
After lunch, the climb continued through pine trees, crossing the occasional track, all well signposted. Occasionally we crossed an open barranco where the break in the pines allowed some other low-growing species to grow, including Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) and Sticky broom (Adenocarpus foliosus), but none were in flower. After another stop with the whole group gathering, the front runners decided they were not stopping any more for us laggards behind, so I stopped trying to keep up, and four of us at the back took rests when we felt we needed them, and I started taking photos again.
We had had a spell in the pine forest with cloud above us, but it had not bothered us as we had no views anyway, but as we got higher the blue skies, and then the sunshine, returned, which cheered us up. We crossed the main road again through a tunnel underneath, and noticed that planted around the exit were Mountain shrubby plantain (Plantago webbii), although not in flower at this time of year. From here on up the path goes to the right of a deep ravine, Barranco Guamasa, but following the red/white trail of the GR131 does not allow many views into the barranco, so one friend and I decided to try the other paths that go nearer to the edge. We certainly got more chances to see the views, and the paths were still good underfoot, so we enjoyed the alternative. We rejoined the GR131 path, and then went left for another deviation higher up, rejoining the GR131 again later.
Finally we started to get glimpses of the Alto de Guamasa, the volcano of the same name, sitting on the other side of the barranco. This is only a short distance from El Portillo so we knew there wasn’t much further to walk then. Coming out of the pine trees the path zig-zags up the slope at the head of the barranco to join the road at the junction of El Portillo.
The route was 14.5km long and took me 4.5hrs with 1077m of climbing. Our faster walkers did it in 4hrs.
Posted on January 29, 2012, in North Tenerife, Walks in Tenerife and tagged Arbutus canariensis, El Portillo, faya, GR131 Tenerife, madroño, myrica faya, strawberry tree. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.