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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hiking in the Sierra de Guaderrama: around Cercedilla

We arrive in Cercedilla on the train from Madrid at around 11:30 and immediately set off to climb up to the Pena el Aguila.

The route takes us up out of town and then along a nice forested dirt road gently up the mountain. According to our book, we should find a side path that takes us up more steeply after a gate. This doesn't show itself for what seems like much too long so we take the next path up that we see. This ascends through the woods until it hits another forest road, but we opt to continue along something that might be a path that continues directly upwards. After not too long, it becomes clear that this is not a path, but it's not like you can get badly lost while walking up to a ridge, so we just go cross country. Eventually we cross a real path and continue along that. After a bit, the weather craps out on us and the rain starts. Crap! Luckily this is a short lived phenomenon and it stops after a few minutes. Then some really scary sounding thunder starts above us. This makes us think for a bit and we take a break to have a sandwich and rethink the trip to the ridge in the thunderstorm. Fortunately, during our break, the thunder moves off and the sky above clears up.
Onward we go... Up to the saddle (Collado de Cerromalejo), the ridge, and the GR10. From here it's follow the ridge (with its nice dry stone fence dividing Madrid and Segovia) up up until we reach the peak. Up top we have another short break and enjoy the view before continuing along the ridge down to a saddle (Collado de Marichiva) and the path back towards Cercedilla.

The route down is uneventful, nice paths, nice walking, and we get to our hotel 10 minutes before the sky completely cracks open and dumps some serious rain... Now that is good timing!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Moutier -> Baerschwil

The forecast called for sun in the morning and then clouds and rain in the afternoon, so we wanted some flexibility. Andrea found a nice-sounding description of a long hike from Moutier to Delemont, so that's what we opted to do. To try and minimize chances of getting caught in the rain, we end up doing an early start and get a train at 6:30

Starting from Moutier, the path leads us out of town and then up, up to the broad, flat top of the Mont Raimeux. Along the way we get some nice views back to the Arete de Moutier where we had practiced climbing back in April. Up top we can enjoy the great views and the really clear day. As we continue to gently climb, the Alps come into view (somewhat hazy, but clearly visible)... ahhhh, the Alps! :-)

We head on, past the SAC hut (closed), through Raimeux de Grandval, and then to the peak and its tower.

From the tower we enjoy a rare view: the Alps, the Jura, the Schwarzwald, and the Vosges are all visible.

After a bit of time enjoying the view, we head on and down to Rebeuvelier and then onward through the gorge and across the valley to Vicques (nice lunch break in the gorge on the way). By now we've decided not to do the somewhat boring looking bit through the valley to Delemont, so from town we head up to the Retemberg. The last climb of the day takes to the ridge, past the Naturfreundehaus (another food break here), and then over the Röstigrat. ;-)

Down a bit, and then along, under the occasional cliff, to Vögeli, and then steeply down into Bärschwil and the bus back home.

Amazing thing today: despite how good the views were and how stable the weather ended up being, we didn't see any other hikers.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hägendorf -> Waldenburg

Got a late start today, so we decided to do something close by. The Teufelschlucht has been on the list since we skipped it a few years ago due to bad weather.

We started in Hägendorf, followed the many signs to the Teufelschlucht, and had a nice walk up through the gorge. We're a bit spoiled at the moment with gorges and so were not really that impressed by this one, but it's still a nice walk. At Allerheiligenberg we stopped for a cool beverage and then took a less direct route to the Belchenflue in order to do a stretch with ladders. Unfortunately we must have turned left too soon above Wuest and consequently missed this stretch... ah well, next time.
From the Belchenflue the path took us down to the Chilchizimmersattel and its parking lot and then back up to the ridge on the other side, past Geissflue, and Lauchflue, and along the Rehag to Gerstelflue. This is a really good example of Jura ridge hiking... very nice. At the end of the ridge we pass a small group learning climbing and then head down to the old castle, which we'd visited before. From there it's less than 20 minutes to Waldenburg and the train towards home.