Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January 3, 2017: A Legendary Hike

Subtitle: True Love is Deadly
Just a little roadside vista along the way

Today, we began our hike at Contradero, which is a point on a road that bisects the highest point on La Gomera from the Garajonary National Park. The park is the major attraction of La Gomera with many beautiful hiking opportunities and numerous ecosystems.

 The aboriginal people here are referred to a Guanches and it took Spain 5 years of fighting to enslave and remove them from their homeland. Some of them intermarried and now the only Guanches are the intermixed population. The name Garajonay is supposedly the amalgamation of the names of a princess of La Gomera, Gara and her love from the neighboring enemy group on Tenerife. We don;t konw how they met. Maybe not eharmony.  But they fell in love to the disapproval of their parents. They ran away in La Gomera in the Garajonay area and committed suicide rather than be separated. And now they are eternally together not only in the mythological heaven, but in the name of the park. There! I've done my romantic bit for today!

A look out from the highest point in La Gomera, Alto de Garajonay. On a clear day you can see Teide Mtn on Tenerife and other islands of the canaries floating on the water. Today we saw pretty well but Saharan sand prevented any significant look at Tenerife, 

Paul enjoys his view

Teide Peak is actually in this photo but the resolution just isn't good enough.

More gorgeous views.

There is scrubby vegetation everywhere.

We were so excited,  we had to do a jump shot.

One scary Knoxvillian on La Gomera

Paul takes a leap, but fortunately not off the steep edge.

Garajonay consists of a dense forest made up of different plant species, often surrounded by a sea of clouds that gives the forest a magical aspect. These fogs, are intercepted by the forest itself, producing a moisture load which is essential for the survival of a green territory located in an arid island. These type of forests are classified as “laurisilva” forests or “evergreen laurel”, which means a forest of laurels, since most of its component tree species have leaves similar to the laurel. Their existence is possible thanks to the high humidity and the mild temperatures, accompanied by little fluctuations during the year.

Garajonay forests are not homogeneous; we can appreciate different types of forests and other vegetation. There are about 2000 species of plants in the Park which covers about 15 sq miles. It reminded us many ways of our laurel forests back home.

Scrubby trees near the highest point in La Gomera

We think this plant is related to the dandelion

This pathway through the forest reminded us of home

And so did this stream. Freshwater in general is scarce in the Canaries, and La Gomera has quite a lot in comparison.

Waterfall Paul

Laurisilva Cloud Forest

More running water. We've seen very little.

Dense ferns

Fern closeup

A richly green Canarian Island. No wonder Columbus dallied about here.

These paths across the island are very well sign posted

A look down the valley from today's lunch spot

Here was the ample menu:
Not sure what fried rabbit in sauce cooked Dentex is but decided to skip it on principle!

'We stopped a little over halfway through the hike between Garajonay National Park and our destination village at the hamlet of El Cedro for lunch. It was plentiful as were the number of hikers. You can't beat the view though. And the food was basic but tasty...and really salty which seems the norm.

Then, we had to go DOWN. Seriously and steeply down, just like yesterday only not quite so far. Our goal was to get behind the rock pictured below.

We aimed to snuggle up to a large stone

King David contemplates whether it really makes any sense to walk down.

Whatever is in Princess Margaret's water pack? She seems cheerful all the time!

Nikki rockhops with two sticks

Miss Chris Maidenhead is the portrait in pink amongst the lovely yellow blooms.

The group takes a rest

Another look at the rock we were aiming for from a slightly greater distance.

Amazingly, we did all finally make it down past that rock in one piece.

Looking back a the towering rock

We finally came out on a road and descended the last mile or so on level highway. No one objected.

A look into the village of Hermigua where we finished our hike.

One last look back at the downhill run and the stone goal

Our destination: the bar for a beer!

No one likes a puppy pooper. We need these signs in Knoxville. It's getting that bad. Don't get me started!

Andrew and John enjoy bubbles

Paul is not an exception to enjoying a brew at the end of about 10 miles of ups and downs.
When we got back, Paul and I made an ascent of about 2 miles round trip to the local Parador to make a dinner reservation for tomorrow night which we definitely look forward to if we haven't keeled over from exhaustion.

We've had two really strenuous hiking days in a row, but great company of British tourist friends and some breathtaking sights around every curve. We are very grateful to be exploring La Gomera and encourage others to come to this affordable, amazing island.

To visit Garajonay National Park, go to La Gomera and head straight for the middle.
“Nature is one of the most underutilized treasures in life. It has the power to unburden hearts and reconnect to that inner place of peace.” 
― Janice Anderson

Paul's Ponderings:  Whew!  Two big hiking days in  a row!   Today the descent was pretty huge compare to the ascent!  I think we had about 300m up and 1000m down, which is a big contrast.   Personally I do a lot better hiking up than down.    This part of the island is very green and reminded me of the Smokies where we live in many ways.    It's not quite as stressful from a hiking view as yesterday, but we ended up at 11. 5 miles nonetheless.  This was followed by a lovely dinner at a local restaurant that was 60 years old.   The fish here is basically caught today, eat today, and is well prepared.   So far my feet are holding  up well using some new Salomon boots that I bought a few months ago....same brand, but not the same boot, that I used on the England Coast-to-Coast.  Highly recommended boot brand from my view.

During part of the hike we could see Tenerife -- or at least the outline of Mount Teide -- in the distance, shrouded in mist/dust.   Last year we saw Mount Teide in a similar manner while hiking on Gran Canaria, so it shows you how close these three islands are in general.

Our guide describes La Gomera as being a cake that a giant took random scoops out of and that has proven true.   There are huge rift valleys that we are hiking up and down.   You can see it in the some of the photos.    It's a tremendous pleasure to be here and get this experience.