Today we are both suffering from particularly achy legs. Yesterday we went up Mount Tiede, the highest point in the Canaries and also the whole of Spain at 3,718m or 12,198ft if you prefer your mountains in old money.
Numbers aside, it was ‘flipping’ hard work walking up and down. We had booked to stay in the refuge and arrived about 6.30pm, the walk up taking 2 hours and 40 minutes. Unlike those poor souls tucking into their pot noodles and black tea, we had carried in chicken and leek casserole, cheese and biscuits, fresh fruit and Green and Blacks Hot Chocolate mix. Just because you’re staying in a mountain hut and have to carry your food in, is no excuse for eating badly in our world.
I think I counted 7 bunk beds in our room so space for 14 folk. I slept pretty dreadfully as I was waiting for someone to snore really badly which is what normally happens in huts. Surprisingly this didn’t happen but I foolishly spent most of the night waiting for it. Weird logic.
So up at 5, depart at 5.30am. The temperature at the hut was -2 degrees. The moon was full so no torches needed on the ascent which was exhausting and steep. Having spent the last 6 months pretty much at sea level, the altitude was probably a factor in our slow deliberate plod or maybe we’re not as fit as we thought. Or maybe a bit of both. And we’re not 25 anymore!
We arrived at the top about 7am and the sun came up above the horizon over Gran Canaria about 7.30. Those 30 minutes were particularly s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out.The moon was still up so it was remarkably light and also remarkably chilly, I’m guessing around -6 plus the wind chill. Bit of a shock when most of your days the temperature is in the mid 20’s.
We hid behind rocks out of the wind and waited for the feeling to come back into our fingers. Definitely out of practice at this mountain lark. The sun did its thing, we grabbed some quick snaps with the camera and swiftly headed down, arriving back at the hut about 8.30am for hot drinks and some late breakfast.
Then we stomped down the hill getting back to the car for 10.50am. The landscape is quite remarkable. I don’t recall walking anywhere like this before. The drive up is spectacular from sea level through laurel, eucalyptus and pine forests out above the tree line. You’re then into desert like conditions followed by lava flow and a variety of rocks in the crater and on the volcano itself. At the very top of Tiede, there is some sulphurous smoke coming out of the ground and what appear to be various bits of kit monitoring the activity.
Just because we could, on our return to sea level, we went straight to the beach where it was 24 degrees, for a burger and a beer.