Thursday, April 11, 2013

Montana de la Arena

We didn't have much luck with the sun during this excursion. One of a few small pools of light on the landscape

Montana de la Arena is a small dark mountain between Lajares and Villaverde/La Oliva. I passed it many times when doing a part of trans-Fuerteventura path GR 131. Once we tried to go up it with friends, but turned back when we discovered that the side of the mountain that we choose was one large scree. That was the side which looks at Lajares, northern face more of less.

When I saw the announcement of the excursion to the Montana de Arena on Facebook, I joined. I figured that maybe there is a good path up that I failed to spot myself.

Well, I was wrong. Where we went, there is no good path. There are bits when it looks sort of like one; but those are separated by stretches of pure picon, black volcanic gravel. You step up and slide down by the same amount, and you step up again, and you guessed the rest. It's not an easy climb, and I don't recommend to go where we went - southern face.


View towards Villaverde and large red mountain Ecanfraga
However, we did get to the top somehow (with heavy emphasis on "somehow"). As always on a relative plain, small elevation changes the view considerably. I never realized that the small mountain on the left in the picture above also has a crater, for example.

Archil/Orchil/Roccella tinctoria is the darker lichen with long thin "leaves"

The whole area around Montana de Arena and the mountain itself have a green tint to it, very visible on googlemaps. All due to lichens, the sign of pure air and all that. The Archil lichen (I am pretty sure I have heard "Archila" used more often), the blackish long strands, was used in the past to produce litmus dye. It was one of the products Fuerteventura dealt in before the advance of modern dyes. Now very few people are interested, although I am told there is a German lady who lives in Lajares who picks the lichens and dyes fabric in a traditional way.

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, iceplant, covering the ground

One of the two craters of the mountain. Lajares in the background

The crater you can see above is not that impressive; what is impressive is that the small mountain has four of them. I guess it explains its "broken" shape.
Giant opuntia catus
Around the mountain some small flowers are still growing, despite the lack of serious rains for the last few months. The giant opuntia cactus must be very old. It is more than three meters tall and still bears some red edible fruits.

Small and unbearably cute find 

When we were almost on the ground level, guys in the front found a tiny kid (baby goat that is). It was covering under a stone wall. They took it to the nearest farm; the farmer explained that sometimes she-goats jump over those walls and give birth in the malpais; the problem is, kids can't jump as easily, and the mothers can't carry them, so farmers go from time to time and scout around for lost kids; stress all around.
I must say I had better opinion of the goats - I thought they were a lot brighter. But maybe I was comparing them with sheep. Pretty sure I was.

Spot the reason to go shopping
Above is one of the results of the excursion.
I intentionally don't give the map of the route, as the way we went up was bad. I am told that the west face of the mountain has less scree and more solid rock, but I can't confirm or deny it.

Northern Fuerteventura at shutterstock

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