Sunday, July 26, 2015

Circular walk from Caldera de Los Marteles to Mirador Pico de las Nieves and back

The main purpose of the walk was to see this

We went for an evening walk to Pico de las Nieves organised by Couchsurfing Gran Canaria. The plan was to start at Caldera de los Marteles, go up to Pico de las Nieves to enjoy the sunset and have some food/drink, and then go back to Caldera de los Marteles by different path. This is the first Couchsurfing event of this kind we've ever attended and it turned out to be great.

Caldera de los Marteles

Dusty walking

When walking in a group, you should be prepared to wait. I am sure if there were just two of us, we could have done the route, at least its pre-sunset leg, much faster. On the other hand, the point of Couchsurfing is to meet new people. Besides, we probably wouldn't even embark on after-the-dusk walk on our own.
At the mirador

On Gran Canaria, every time we watch the sunset, we hope to see Tenerife. (That's where the sun sets every night, in theory.) Well, it was still about three-quarters of an hour till sunset when we finally arrived to Mirador Pico de las Nieves. The day was hazy and the view featured no Tenerife whatsoever.
So what. It was a perfect moment to enjoy our sandwiches.
Teide-less sunset

Then suddenly, when there were maybe ten minutes remaining, the neighbouring island revealed itself, first as a dark line, then as a ghostly silhouette. A few minutes later, we could clearly see the purple nipple of Teide rising above the sea of clouds. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets on this island, ever. But my, it was getting cold and windy up there. An advise to bring "winter clothes" with us was blissfully ignored; we've put on all the (way too thin) jumpers we had with us and engaged in some prolonged shivering.
Teide-plus sunset

As soon as the sun went down, the shouts "¡Vamos!" (and, surprisingly, "Давай-давай", as many people here know some Russian) were heard, and for a good reason. It gets dark really fast here.
Armed with torches, we started our journey back. Pretty soon, the sky was pitch-black and we could enjoy the view of hyper-bright Milky Way and unfamiliar constellations (as well as familiar Northern constellations in weird orientations). With all this stargazing, we did not move as fast, but nobody appeared to be in a hurry.
And then, when it was just about two hundred meters left till our start/finish point, it all went wrong. Even with our (really knowledgeable) guides present, we fumbled the descent into the Caldera, sliding all the way down of volcanic ash instead of taking a path (which was invisible, of course). The (day-time) photo below illustrates our (night-time) "shortcut".
This is where it all went terribly wrong

Here's a map of our route according to the smartphone we used, which seems to have lost the GPS signal for a while (military influence? there was an endearing sight of a soldier hanging out of a window in military installations next to Mirador, texting furiously. The views are great and all, but it must be pretty boring for them there).


Pictures of Gran Canaria on shutterstock - here
Text by Kirill, photos by Tamara

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