Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hiking in the Sierra de Guaderrama: La Barranca de Navacerrada -> Manzanares el Real

After the expected weak breakfast we are on our way by nine under blue skies. The first part of the day's path is back along the end of yesterday's hike, though we soon enough divert. The order of the morning is climb, climb, climb. After a bit of climbing we stop at a spring to fill the water bottles and then it's up, up, up until we reach the Collado del Piornal. The path is pretty easy to follow, at least initially shaded and generally a pleasure to hike. Once at the col and standing in the wind, we decide against a side trip to the Maliciosa since the day is already going to be pretty long... Too bad, it was seriously tempting. ;-)

From the col the path leads us, in the wind, up to the strange station atop the Bola del Mundo. Then around that and further along the broad ridge of the Cuerda Larga. Much of the rest of the day is spent on that ridge. We climb up to peaks and head down to saddles and walk and walk. It's very good walking and quite entertaining. We have a nice, wind-sheltered lunch break on top of the Hierro Menor, along the way we run across a big group of mountain goats (Iberian Ibex) that didn't have much interest in us and don't let us bother them at all.

Eventually we reach the Asomate de Hoyos and turn off to the right to head towards La Pena Linderas and La Pedriza with all its crazy stone formations. This is an exercise in following stonemen since there are no other markings. Still, the path is no problem to follow and fun to walk. After some descending we reach another saddle (Collado de Miradero) and then turn to follow the well marked path steeply down to the valley. This path has a bit of everything: smooth bits under trees, scrambling through rocks, jumping streams, etc. It's big fun. This is a good thing because it's also got a lot of descent and we do it pretty quickly (practicing for hochtour season: running down hill at the end of a long day).

Eventually we reach the parking lot Canto Cochino at the bottom and pick up the poorly signed and marked trail along the Rio Manzanares into Manzanares el Real. Good thing for us: our hotel is right where we come into town. It's a serious bonus at the end of a very long day to not have to walk forever through town.

We settle in for the evening with sore feet, tired legs, and full eyes. It was a really great day.

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