I have not written a blog for a while due to upheavals at home during refurbishment of our flat. It resulted in my access to my computer and Wifi internet being impossible of extremely restricted, and since returning home there’s been lots to do! So now I have a bit of spare time I am going to upload some lovely nature experiences I had during May and June.
On 24th May, 2017, two friends and I were planning a walk from El Portillo in the Teide National Park, to La Forteleza to see the red tajinastes and a rare Tenerife endemic cistus in flower. Unfortunately we did not realise that on that day all paths, except one, in the National Park were closed due to hunting for mouflon – an ancient sheep ancestor introduced to the island for hunting. These animals now pose a serious threat to the rare and endangered endemic plants which grow in the National Park and the surrounding mountain areas. These plants evolved in an environment which did not have large herbivores, and therefore have little defence to them. The hunting now being done is to reduce the numbers and maybe eradicate them.
So when we arrived at the visitor centre at El Portillo we discovered we would not be able to do the walk we planned. Instead we had a look at the visitor centre’s botanic garden which contains many of the rare local species in it. Here we saw the Red Tajinaste (Echium wildpretii) and the rare cistus (Cistus osbeckifolius) in flower, as well as others. I have never seen the Teide helianthemum (Helianthemum juliae) before, and it was making a great show, with all its lovely yellow flowers facing the sun. I think the flowers are short-lived as only 5 days later I visited the botanic garden again and all but a few of the helianthemum flowers were over.
Then we resigned ourselves to walking on the only path still open to the public on that day, Montaña Blanca. This path serves the most frequently used (and shortest) route to the top of Mt Teide. There is limited parking at the start of the path, on the road between the base of the cable car and El Portillo, but we were lucky to get one as someone just pulled out in front of us. They had probably come down from the Teide summit where many from the Refugio go up to see the dawn.
I had previously only walked the path to Montaña Blanca when going up or down Mt Teide in the winter, and had thought the landscape rather boring and exposed, so I was not looking forward to the walk. However, the day was pleasantly sunny with a gentle breeze, and not too hot for walking so we started upwards. The landscape is mainly of pumice spewed out by the Montaña Blanca. But there are some local plants that like the pumice environment. It seems that the National Park has not only been controlling the mouflon to benefit these plants but also has been developping a programme over a number of years, of propagating several species and repopulating the area with them. As a consequence we had an interesting walk with many of these plants in flower.
The pumice track continued uphill winding around towards Teide. One fork to the right confused us for a short while, till we realised we should have gone left, otherwise it was easy walking till we got to a path junction at the foot of the steep slope of Teide. Here the path to the summit begins a zig-zag section. There is a path to the left to the top of Mtna Blanca which is where we went, and had a gorgeous panaramic view of the caldera while we ate our lunch.
After lunch we retraced our steps back to the road, enjoying the views again from the opposite perspective.
The there and back walk involved approximately 400m of climbing on a very gentle slope with good paths. It was approximately 10.6 km / 6.6 miles long and took us about 3 – 3.5 hours.