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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!

Snow-shoeing in a blizzard...
Sunday, March 24, 2013 @ 11:03 PM

Our friend Anne has been trying to organise a snow-shoeing expedition for some weeks, but each time the weather has got in the way, or some other deterrent...finally we decided that today would be the day and 4 of us booked a session with the Navadensis chaps up at the Granada ski station.  Down in the valley all was green, with the occasional jewel-like oranges or pink almond blossom indicating spring...but up on the mountain it was another story altogether.  Threatening, dark clouds rolled around, a light drizzle was turning to fresh snow (at 10am) and some roads were already getting very narrow thanks to the drifting .  Visibility was poor.

But hey, we're British, we don't do negativity!  By 11.30am we were out on the mountainside (at 2500m perhaps), wrapped up in waterproofs, woolly hats, gloves etc with 'raquetas de nieve' on our feet and ski poles in our hands.  Buitre was our guide and we headed up the snowy slope into the stinging wind...this quickly became even heavier snow and a stronger wind as we climbed, until we were well past the Virgen de la Nieve monument and getting towards the top of a 'red' ski route; by this time we couldn't see anything much, although the odd skier passed by going down.  We were glad of our protective clothing and decent energy levels, but decided that we too should turn back after a couple of hours as it was all getting a bit risky; even Buitre wasn't sure of the route back in what was now a complete white-out and temperatures of about -10 with the wind chill factor and blizzarding snow.  When your hair turns stiff and white, your cheeks are sore and your eyes watering, and only your snow-shoes are stopping you from sinking or skidding over icy patches - it's time to go home!   We collected up a young Spaniard, Juan on the way down, suffering from a bit of altitude sickness and, I think, fear of where his troop of snow-shoers were going.  We were all glad when first the Military mountain refuge and then the Albergue de Juvilines came into view, although we still had a few miles to walk to reach our car and the main road.  It was 5pm by the time we left.

But we were not done...the road down to Granada was in chaos!  Very, very icy and full of traffic!  The World Finals for Snowboarding and Freestyle ski are taking place this week and next, so the resort is packed out, but many people had headed down to the city for a day in sunlight of some sort...and now they were coming back up to their hotels, without realising how bad the weather had been all day.  People had stopped to put on chains or because they were slipping about or, being in Spain, because they wanted to overtake the car in front but couldn't quite make it...and people like us going down the mountain were tending to do the same thing!  Result: a horrible mess!  It took a good hour to get clear and the only solution was to head for Lanjaron and hot chocolate with buñuelos to sustain us!

We enjoyed the actual snow-shoeing and will do some more;  we were glad of our sensible clothing and warm layers;  we thought Navadensis did us proud at 30 euros per head for a good 4 hrs; and Buitre was an excellent guide and a nice man.  But next time we want sunshine and a view, not the sensation of being adrift in Antarctica!!  Oh and some decent driving too!! Happy days!!

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