Lost in the forests.
On paper today looked straightforward, a red wriggly line marked on my map. The distance was 30k and the book said 10 hours. Unfortunately the first bus back up through Oratava to La Caldera didn’t leave till nearly nine so we had no chance of an early start. Our plan was to get as far as we could and then get off the mountain somehow. The caldera is now used as a natural amphitheatre and recreational area. When we arrived there were only a few people about and the cafe wasn’t open for coffee. After a couple of kilometers on a good track the GR131 was signed unexpectedly up a narrow path and it continued climbing for another 500m. Obviously not what our map showed but once committed we had no other choice. The scenery was dramatic on the edge of a barranco with views back to Teide. We traversed above Roque de Topo and then spent hours somewhere on Montana de Joco up and down wooden steps, every time we thought we must be at the highest point the path descended and then climbed again. We clocked 1200m in the day and we thought it was going to be level. Some, most, of the barrancas crossed were steep and rocky and the path had been hewn out of the rock faces. The day was as usual hot and sunny and walking on a bed of pine needles was a delight, the warm smell of resin intoxicating.
Lunch, the usual tuna roll, was taken on a log which immediately snapped. We discussed our options – the map was of no use at all but the waymarking was good and we just had to follow it as our whereabouts were a mystery. We might have to do the full 30k and calculated finishing in the dark god knows where at about 7.30. I had very little spare clothing with me and we only had one headtorch, this was supposed to be yet another easy day. I spotted a sign to El Rincon marked on the map and thought this may offer us an escape route in the light, I voted for that although I think JD would have continued to the bitter end . We, perhaps recklessly, abandoned the 131 and wound down the forest road to a junction with confusing signs. A shelter and signs at Siete Fuentes was soon reached, amazingly back on the GR131. We thought by now we were on our map’s red wriggly line. Several people were out in the forest collecting firewood but none seemed of any help in directing us off the hillside. We plodded on and asked another couple just finishing loading there truck, the conversation was a bit of a blur but before we knew it we were bouncing down the tracks in the back of their van. They took us to La Esperanza and dropped us off at a lonely stop assuring us there would be a bus along at 5.30. It came, we arrived in La Laguna bus station and next we were on a bus back to Puerto de la Cruz by 7. Sometimes it just happens like that. So instead of walking in the dark, or if tired and lost bivvying unequipped in the forest, we were having a shower and going round the corner for a beer and another superb Canarian meal. Tomorrow would take care of itself.