rambling

GRAN CANARIA 7th FEB

The journey ended, as it began, at a lighthouse in a desert.
I was glad I hadn’t gone last night down the prescribed route of avenues, roundabouts, shopping centres, hotels bars and restaurants to finish but had instead run the gauntlet of all of the above from my room in San Fernando to the sea but then had walked across the Dunes de Maspalomas for the last few kms of my journey to the Faro.

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It seemed fitting to finish as I had begun, with sand in my boots and to end at the beginning.
Although more tame and controlled and busy with tourists than the desert surrounding the Faro at El Puertito on Fuerteventura but it took me back to hiking on the soft yellow sand there and to muse on all the other surfaces my boots have been over on all the seven islands of the Canaries I have experienced since.
Sand in all its forms, from soft and deep to solidified and calcified, lava of every type, colour and contortion. Black ash, red and grey pumice, pine needles, lush grass, dirt track, fertile earth, moss mud and lichen. Pebbles, cobbles and boulders, concrete, tarmac and the finest of stone paved mule tracks.
But the shifting sands of Maspalomas were a fitting finish representing the final result of the process of erosion of the mountains, born of eruptions beneath the sea, eventually returning to it.

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With the lighthouse in the distance I came upon a little mock up of what could have been a Guache ceremonial site or settlement. Just a play thing in the midst of the tourist trappings but their lives on these islands should be remembered.

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On past the empty loungers on this grey day to the finish.

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One million, twenty nine thousand, seven hundred and twenty five steps later.
Six hundred and fifty one kilometres.
Five metres short of twenty thousand metres of ascent.
I’ve noticed that most travel- hiking etc bloggers include kit reviews where the latest high tec , high spec, high price gear is given the once over.
My approach is somewhat different. I wanted to show you don’t have to spend a fortune to have adventures in the wilds.
I set off with bargain basement equipment and was wondering about approaching one of my main suppliers, Lidle for sponsorship ( not really but not a bad idea).
My 15€ Lidle tent, although not tested in extreme conditions has done its job well as has my cheap Alpkit bivvy bag.
30€ worth of sale priced Hi Tec boots have lasted better than top brand Brashers I used on the Camino.
The Lidle supplied hiking poles have saved many a fall and fitted into my hand luggage that the Leki never would.
Socks, shorts and bamboo t shirt, all Clivit brand from Lidle are as good as you need.
The Eurohike sleeping bag could have been warmer but I was using it at nearly 2000mt and it was ultra light.
In fact the equipment that let me down the most was the Berghaus rucksack and the IPhone.
So don’t let a lack of top of the range gear stop you getting out there- remember the stuff out celebrated explorers had, and I’m not talking about the ones with teams of porters carrying the champagne and truffles.
This Ramble is over now and I have a few weeks R and R before the next one begins.
At the beginning of March I’ll be starting off on the Camino Mozarabe from Malaga, joining up with the Via de la Plata, and hopefully making it to Santiago de Compostella about 6 weeks later.
If you have enjoyed reading any of these ramblings it would be nice if you left a comment because I have no idea who is out there, apart from my much appreciated faithfulls.
Buen Camino

GRAN CANARIA 6th FEB

I must have walked about 30km which wasn’t what I had planned when I left my stony bedroom. I had planned to get to Ayaguares only about 4 hours away, have a leisurely lunch then carry on for an hour or so and find somewhere nice to camp before the final leg.
Didn’t work out like that.
After a pretty good night with the cloud briefly touching every now and again I could see my surroundings for the first time. I looked back down the path I’d climbed the night before.

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With the “fingers of God” feeling their way around the valley below I made my way over the pass to enter an uninhabited wilderness of mountain rock and pine.

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This was the Degollada de la Manzanilla where a sign informed me that I had made my bed at 1190mt.
Even though the vastness ahead seemed devoid of any signs of human life there were tracks winding through it and I could make out some mysterious complex miles into the empty quater. And hear the sound of a digger working somewhere.
A while later I may have come across the explanation of the mechanical noises when my planned route was interrupted by this sign.

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A pretty permanent looking sign which led me to believe that this wasn’t some minor rockfall like the ones I’d come across so far. Maybe I could skirt around it or climb over it but I didn’t want to get to the bottom of the valley to find I couldn’t and have to come all the way back again. So I followed the sign for the S57 pointing me towards Ayaguares. And very nice it was too. It slowly gently descended across the dry rocky landscape under towering pinnacles and around great boulders. First through thinly scattered pine and then scrub which on closer inspection contained a wealth of colour.

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The reservoir or Embalse de Ayaguares grew closer until I could look down on a higher one the Embalse de Gambuesa which had a lovely looking collection of houses and gardens drawing sustenance from is waters.

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As I walked passed the mountains reflected in the water I noticed a little group practising some kind of wholistic healing. It was that kind of place.

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The bar in the village was not the kind of place for a leisurely lunch however with no food on offer, so after a cafe con leche and a look at their photos of guys using the vaulting poles I’d seen on La Palma, it was back on track.

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As I started my climb out of the village I stopped for a chat with a fella sat outside a roadside house advertising his massage services. Phill from Gloucester, whose been coming to the canaries during the winter for 20 hrs. He told me bad weather was forecast so it was just as well I was coming to the finish. He also asked if I’d like to talk on his internet radio show next Tuesday,broadcast on fm in the uk, radio winchcombe. If I’m here I will.
I knew there was a long steep climb ahead so I somewhat reluctantly pulled myself away and carried on towards La Montana in search of food and rest. A tough climb it was.

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At last I came to the top of the switchback road at the gap of Cima Pedro Gonzalez but I was too tired to stop and admire the view. The whole way was now on road which I find harder going and I was aware of tender feet for the first time. Walking along the ridge top I looked down upon Palmitos Park, a very popular tourist attraction set deep at the back of a ravine. A “wildlife” park it had a range of animals in captivity including 4 or more Dolphins in these pools.

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The next disturbing sights were the over the top opulence of the villas of Montana Alta, an area Phill had described as the Beverly Hills of Gran Canaria. These pictures cannot convey the scale of the wealth on show, or perhaps debt, because there were a lot of for sale signs.

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The Palm tree lined avenues, all named after composers, had broad pavement, there were no pedestrians, and scores of parking spaces for car that weren’t there.
A glorious folly of an urbanization that now has a large ugly unfinished concrete housing complex fenced off at its entrance.
By the time I got to La Montana lower, a real village, it was obvious I had run out of camping options. So after stocking up on some food and water it was a dash to the finish. It was road and suburbs and camel ranches and go cart track and Aqualand all the way.

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It wasn’t really the relaxed and victorious end to my trail across the Canaries I had hoped for so I put off the last few km to the Maspalomas faro for a day and headed straight for the hostel I had just booked on line. Phill had told me about it and about a great tapas bar next door.
The tapas were excellent, the best i shad this trip. The accommodation is awful, the worst I’ve had this trip.
So my next post will be the last of this trip and I must include my kit review. Speaking of views, here’s mine.

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TENERIFE 30th JAN

After another restful night at Almazen in Vilaflor it was time to load the pack and head for the high ground again.
Back up on the bus to the Parador in the Montana Teide National Park. The place was swarming with tourists again so I headed off down the trail I was on yesterday for a couple of kms till I could gain new ground.
I spent the whole day above 2000mt. Hiking for about 20km at nearly twice the height of the highest point in Ireland.
I could notice the thinness of air in my lungs and see it in the deep blue sky and feel it in the intense sunlight.
The track was levelish and straightish for km after km crossing the plain across the top of the island with Teide rising to the west and a ridge of mountains to my side on the east.

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All day long I slowly circled Teide, watching the tiny specks of cable car slide up and down on invisible cables and seeing the patches of snow getting bigger as I moved round towards the North face.

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I passed a lot of the flat areas, Canadas, once used for grazing sheep and goats in the summertime though on what I can’t imagine.
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I seem to have a problem with uploading images so I’ll have to leave them till I have better coverage.
In fact it’s rather cold to be doing this at all. I have come down a little now. I didn’t end the day at the stage end on El Portillo but after a visit to the visitor centre and a tortilla at the bar, I carried on and have ended up in my tent on a little level bluff in the pine forest over looking the fluffy clouds below. Well I was, but now the clouds have opened here and there to reveal orange and white city lights twinkling away way down below me. Above me I have white shining stars and a big fat moon in a cold clear sky.
Too cold to be holding this phone up into trying for a better signal.
So time to get in the silk liner, in the sleeping bag, in the bivvy and in the tent.
Buenos noches
I