We dropped lucky. The night before the walk was planned we had the first real snows of the winter in the mountains. The temperatures were low as the resilient group of Nomads congregated at the trailhead at the base of the Barranco de San Juan, close to the town of Guejar Sierra. All around us were brightly coloured forests, the tops lit by the early morning sun.
It was too cold to hang about so off we went along the start of the Vereda de la Estrella path that leads into the mountains. Just short of a kilometer later we cut off to the rights and ascended easy slopes to the Casas de la Hortichuela.
The mountain path now steepened through forests, the golden autumnal colours highlighted by the low winter sun.
Today I've been helping the Chris Stewart walking group. A superb walking tour around the Barranco de Poqueira. Part time taxi driver for Kiersten, dog walker extraordinaire, part time guide and full time teller of tall stories. Guess what? I loved it! Good to be out in the Sierra Nevada showing people our beautiful mountains.
Today I also had the pleasure of meeting Antonio, a long time Facebook friend and legend in the Sierra Nevada. It's great that the mountains give us these moments of “coming together” in friendship.
The most spectacular path in the Sierra Nevada that nobody knows about!
The Veredon Inferior is definitely superior to the better known “Veredon Superior” that leads into the Corral del Veleta some 500m south. It deserves to be known as the most spectacular path in the Sierra Nevada that nobody knows about! We now head down onto a vasar, a descending rake which rather cleverly circumvents the vertical cliffs above and below.
At 6am on August 20th 2011, together with Pepe Badaje, Jesús Labajo Yuste of Campo Base and muleteers, Toni and Jonni (not forgetting Pepito the mule!), we met at the Ventura trailhead above Lanjarón. We accessed the Rio Lanjarón via the Acequia Alta above the Ventura refugio. Getting a mule along parts of the old acequia was trying at times and took a long time. Once in the river valley we climbed up to the refuge and arrived there by 1pm.
Then it was down to work. Jesus and myself cleaned litter and stones from the building whilst Pepe started on the window. By the end of the day the hut was clean, the ancient wooden replacement window in place and the door frame cemented in. All the accumulated litter was taken back down to Lanjarón which we reached at 8pm, after a 5am start.
There's something special about striking campsite pre dawn and hiking in the first daylight hours, whilst the rest of the world is seemingly still in bed. The sunlight soon hits the mountain tops and a myriad of colours adorns the summit rocks. You amble slowly along the deserted mountain tracks. You are alone in the still and quiet of the hills sharing the experience with animals and birds.
In the summer Sierra Nevada, any bad weather is likely to arrive mid afternoon. Of course, by then, we are enjoying a few cold beers and reflecting on unforgettable shared mountain moments.
A stunning mountain track adjacent to the Lanjaron valley
The Verea Corta – first light is best time to experience this beautiful walk. The sun hits the mountain tops and illuminates the peaks. Always ahead lies the stunning Cerro de Caballo (3009m). This is a superb mountain track best experienced north to south at first light.
Yesterday we went in search of Shangri-La. And we found it!
To the people of Lanjaron, their Shangri-La is the upper Lanjaron valley, it's lakes and it's rivers. It's the source of it's life giving waters. A special place that we were privileged to walk and spend the night in.
The North Face of Mulhacen. Its long been an ambition of mine to view the sunrise from Mulhacen's north face. This morning I got my wish and it didn't disappoint!
Leave the summer crowds heading up Mulhacen behind and instead have a go at the Vasar de Mulhacen which takes an improbable looking horizontal shelf across the seemingly vertical north face of Mulhacén to reach the peak of Puntal de Siete Lagunas. An adrenaline-filled but very straightforward walk to a superb summit with only one short section where the hands need to leave the pockets.