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Biking & Baking in Las Alpujarras

We've been in Spain for over 4 years now - plus 4 motorbikes - and a horse - join us for the ride!

That darned fox...
02 January 2013 @ 21:44

Well, that was an adventure!!  Our New Year 'walk'  went according to plan, more or less...and there were some stars...but scary moments too.  We had trouble starting the car (frosty morning at 1200m on Monday 31st) but Steve used the VFR and we got away about 10am, later than planned, so we didn't leave Frigiliana until midday or thereabouts (coffee first etc).  The walk in towards Cortijo de Iman went well and we've done some of it before, but we missed the path cutting upwards into the hills from the Rio Chillar, and eventually found ourselves at  the impassable point where the fabulous rock cliffs become smooth and steep and narrow and wet...time to turn back and rethink our strategy!  So we started up a barranco that might get us up hour or so later we reached another impassable point, having battled through thorny bushes, rosemary and oleander galore and some treacherous rock faces.  The light was beginning to fade, so we dropped back down to the Chillar and found a good place to bivvy. 

By the time we'd cleared stones and set out our sleeping kit, it was dark.  Steve lit up the stove and we dined off noodles and tea and some choccy baubles sent from Aberdeen (thank you Cam & Jo); we looked up at the stars, enjoyed the owl hooting and the rush of water nearby, and turned in.  Of course, Steve was doing Sudoku at 2am when the moon woke me up, as he only sleeps in 4 hour stints, but somehow we both managed to be awake at 5am when the rain began to fall...Hastily, boots were turned over, socks and down jackets were stuffed into waterproof bivvy sacks, and we prayed for this to be a light shower.  I wondered how we would fare if vast amounts were falling in the sierras to the north...our river might turn into a raging torrent and there were plenty of boulders and wrenched-out trees to show what the forces could be like when that happened!!  

We were fortunate.  The rain stopped and by 7am I was able to snooze while the Man made some tea...we breakfasted hastily and by 9am we were back on the trail, so to speak.  In fact, we decided that the only way now to reach Iman was straight up.  We picked another barranco and set off, going steeper and steeper, clawing our way over treacherous limestone rock (don't ever risk all your  weight on these seemingly safe lumps, some of them just come away in your hand/foot) and hanging onto various shrubs...all very risky and we should not have done it at all.  But we made it!  The land began to level off, we could see the roof of the Cortijo above us and some of its ancient olive trees...and then we were there!  I was very relieved.

It's in a fabulous location, very remote but with a view straight down to the distant sea and not another building in sight.  We decided to sleep in the old bread oven,  complete with its domed roof, out of the gusting winds, and made our arrangements accordingly.  We sat in the afternoon sun and pottered about, looking for the real path so we could get out in more safety (and we found it...).  As evening drew on we lit a fire inside one of the old roofless 'rooms' and drank some limoncello liquor left by a previous hiker - whoever you are, that was a great bequest to everyone coming after), toasted the stars and each other and 2013, then we crawled into our 'beehive' and slept well.  Sometime in the night, Zorro visited and, sadly, removed some of Steve's stuff sacks for his sleeping gear.  These were near the little doorway and the fox must have nosed them out.  If you see him running around with them on his back or in his teeth, we want them (small reward says Steve)!!

In the morning we admired the views, the dawn and the light, shouldered our packs (under 6kg each, including sleeping kit, water, food etc) and set off along the correct path, back towards civilisation.  If you do this walk, don't miss the right-hand path about 1km beyond La Presa, where there are now some re-built and clear cairns...opposite 3 huge grey boulder rocks on the other side of the river.  It will save you a lot of hassle.  We reckon 6 or 7 hours to walk in and 5 to 6 hours back.  There was no water up at the Cortijo, so you need 2 litres per person for an overnight stay or in hot weather.  Amazingly, we saw no one on the way in, but met over 50 people on the way back after leaving the river, during the final couple of hours!  We were very pleased with our tubos de cerveza when we reached Frigiliana!

So...if you plan a walk in that area...don't miss the turning, allow lots of time, it's better to plan to stay the night at altitude...and enjoy the remoteness, the isolation and those craggy mountains.  Be sure to take adequate warm clothing for cold winds   and just watch out for Zorro!!



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Gerald said:
03 January 2013 @ 01:34

I think you are very brave linda & Steve, dunno whether I could do it. Wouldn't mind in May or June although again I like a nice soft mattress.
Around Frigiliana is so beautiful, I really love it.
Cheeky foxy eh!

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