Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hiking in the Sierra de Guaderrama: Cercedilla -> La Barranca de Navacerrada

Since we pre-arranged a somewhat early breakfast, we are ready to go at shortly before nine. When we ask for directions to the path we want to start on, the guy running the hotel is nice enough to offer to drive us there. We don't often turn down the chance to miss more than an hour walking along the road, so this seems like a great idea.

Once in the park in the Valle de la Fuenfria, the path takes us along to the beginning of a Roman road, which we follow for a short bit before diverting and heading slowly up hill. The original idea is to climb up to a series of seven peaks along a ridge and then onwards. We head up, up, up until reaching a clearing (Pradera de Navarrulaque) and grabbing some water next to a shepherd's shelter. From here we follow the instructions in our book and take and older path up towards the ridge. This turns out to be somewhat difficult to follow but the stonemen lead us forwards. At some point we lose both trail markings and stonemen, but the direction is clear and we chance upon another marked path after a few minutes anyway. Onwards to the first of the seven peaks (Pico de Majalasna), which we scramble up and enjoy the view from, then we decide to pass on the rest since the ridge is totally covered in dark clouds and it's starting to rain a bit.

We follow the very nice path onwards with a bit of scramble through the trees, now in the cloud, but luckily not raining too much, onwards and slightly downwards to the saddle Collado Ventoso, where we hit another path that will take us along the contour line under the ridge (Camino Schmid). Very nice walking here on a very well maintained path. Eventually we hit the ski area at Puerto de Navacerrada (ugly) and have a quick lunch break before continuing as quickly as possible through the little ski town and up to the next ridge (Cuerda de las Cabrillas). Here there should be a path leading down, but that's not super interesting and there are some small yellow dots leading us along the ridge anyway, so we stay up high. Things get nicely scrambly, the yellow dots turn to stonemen, and we have a great time scrambling through the rocks. After hitting a saddle and the path again we want more, so instead of following the path, we follow a very faint trail and few stonemen to scramble through the next bit of rocks. This gets a bit trickier than the previous piece, so we opt after a bit to head back down to the trail. Around we go to the end of the ridge and the beautiful viewpoint Mirador de las Canchas out towards Madrid (clearly visible).

Now it's the forest road down until we hit the valley floor of the Barranca de Navacerrada with its small river and loads of kids. The road takes us past a couple artificial lakes and to the hotel where we spend the night.

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