Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gran Canaria Day 5: L'Inagua Cloud Forest.---Welcome to the Sanctuary

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
                                   Hermann Hesse

L'Inagua Forest--the high pines on Gran Canaria way up on the ridgetop
A few days ago we mentioned when posting one of the photos of a forest high up on a mountain that we were told we would go there sometime this week. Well, today was the day that we explored L'Inagua Cloud Forest. Fortunately for us, we awoke to a very bright sunny day with ideal hiking temperatures for most of the day. It got a bit warm at the end, but after a week of at least starting the hikes at altitude with cold winds and sometimes moisture, today seemed perfect to me.

We drove those crazy curvy roads again to the bus stop at Tasartino, and this time, instead of heading down into the valley, we went up, up up. For a very long way--about 1500 feet. When I looked up and saw the forest again, initially I thought, there is no way I am going to get up there. But slowly and surely, we did exactly that . I truly enjoyed the walk up which was steep occasionally, but mostly a steady moderate uphill venture. 

One of the treats of the day was a glance across to Mount Teide which is the highest point in the Canary Isalnds on the next island of Tenerife. 

Mostly we see the mountains of our island of Gran Canaria, but if you look just in the very middle of this picture and just above the lower line of clouds , you will see Mt. Teide beyond the easily seen middle peaks.  You also get a glimpse of the curvaceous road up the mountain.

The views today were spectacular both up and down and in the middle, we got the lovely pine forest to accompany us along our journey.

Paul enjoys jamon iberico sandwiches on Turkey Day
We stopped for lunch around 1pm on a large rock which we had to free hand climb, but it was nice a and flat on top. Although I have to admit, I did somewhat miss my turkey and dressing, it was a beautiful spot for Thanksgiving picnic and we were no less thankful for everything we have received in this lifetime. We walked a good distance today through sagebrush, so we at least did have one of the smells of Thanksgiving to keep us from getting too homesick.

This mountain is called Azulejos for the blue green hues near its base. 
After lunch, we trekked about 2100 feet back DOWN the mountain. It was mostly gentle but the last section was a bear. Lots of loose medium size rocks that caused sliding underfoot and the threat of falling on a narrow trail. The very end was a slide on the bottom back down to the road and the bus stop. Challenging and a bit hard on the bum!

This roadside juice stand had a lovely papaya, banana, orange juice smoothie. Just the right thing after about 10.5 miles of hiking.

But there was silver lining in our playbook. After a tough long hike, we got to enjoy lovely fresh squeezed juices at this roadside stand. There were picnic tables to sit at while waiting for the bus. And the owner gave us fresh Canarian tomatoes--gratis. This area is famous for them and we see huge greenhouses growing them around every corner.

You say tomayto, they say tomahto. But it's all good.
The juice store also had some squawky but beautiful birds to enjoy.
Acrobatics show at no additional charge.

Finally, we caught the bus back to La Aldea and were off for a dinner at a local pub. The owner made us all a great vegetarian soup and that made a great end to our Thanksgiving feast.
Thanksgiving dinner Canarian style

So not a very traditional Thanksgiving for us, but certainly amazing scenery and plenty to be grateful for. A wonderful day!

“All forests have their own personality. I don't just mean the obvious differences, like how an English woodland is different from a Central American rain forest, or comparing tracts of West Coast redwoods to the saguaro forests of the American Southwest... they each have their own gossip, their own sound, their own rustling whispers and smells. A voice speaks up when you enter their acres that can't be mistaken for one you'd hear anyplace else, a voice true to those particular tress, individual rather than of their species.”
Charles de Lint, The Onion Girl 

Paul's Ponderings:  This was the premier hike of our holiday here in the Canaries and it did not disappoint.   The hike up and down was very strenuous and by the end of the day, my pedometer showed around 13 miles.   We were blessed with perfect weather this time.   Door to door, the hike was around 8 hours total.

The hike up was about 500 meters total and down was around 700 meters.   Sounds like not a lot until you have to do it on this terrain!   The views were stunning all around, although not quite the total panorama we had yesterday.    We had a variety of terrain, but mostly rocky in general, both in the large and small sense!

This was our last day of big hiking as we now move on to more touristy sightseeing and such.   But, we've definitely had the Gran Canaria hiking experience, with a great group of folks.

Since this is Thanksgiving, I'll say that I'm very grateful to have this opportunity with my's a unique and wonderful experience.    Weirdly, we saw evidence of "black Friday" here on Gran Canaria....perish the thought.    If there is something I can give "negative thanks" for, it is not being exposed to this shopping orgy and I hope the Spanish folks avoid that particular brand of consumerist behavior.

We closed tonight with another visit to a rural restaurant....good company and very representative of local life.

Overall, we've been quite physically capable of these hikes....a bit sore here and there, but nothing too bad....our training in East Tennessee has paid off.   I told our guide that we hiked with in the Pyrenees about a year ago that I found this hiking less strenuous....not that it was a junior league affair in either case, just less tough....altitude may be a factor (lower here).

Happy Thanksgiving to all!   If you had told a boy from Anderson County, TN in the 1960s that he would be spending Thanksgiving 2015 in rural Gran Canaria, that would have seemed about as likely as spending it on Mars.   Mucho gusto, to quote the locals!

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