Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cruz de Tejeda — Artenara, summer version

Up and away

I am sure I said it a few times already, but let me say it once again — Caldera de Tejeda on Gran Canaria is the most spectacular place I've ever been. Whatever the weather (and it is usually much better there than in Las Palmas anyway) it never fails to deliver. Some sort of magic at work for sure.
I already did this trail, back in March, but I did it in the opposite direction, starting from Artenara. This time I embarked on the walk from Cruz de Tejeda.
Don't know how the bottom left rock formation is called, but I call it Devil's head. Can you see it?

I was actually going to do something else entirely, namely, to check out a deep ravine called Barranco de la Mina where, according to more than one local, there is a water stream all year round. My plan was to get to the barranco around Las Lagunetas village and go up it to Mirador de Becerra, but the best laid plans can be thwarted by a sudden onset of roadworks. Bus number 305 went on a different route and I found myself on Cruz de Tejeda with no desire whatsoever to trample down and then up, ending in the same place.
Panza de Burro, "Donkey's Belly" cloud cover that makes Las Palmas so grey in summer

So, I figured that I can as well check out if the route from Cruz de Tejeda to Artenara is easier than one in the opposite direction. I am happy to report that yes, it was. Artenara is a bit lower down, and although the altitude gap is not big, it makes a difference. There are some ascents of course, but most of the "up" comes immediately after you start from Cruz de Tejeda, while you are still fresh. The ascent is on the steep side, but it is over quickly. There are some minor ups further along, but gentle ones.
Rock formations at Cuevas de Caballero

Whichever way you go, the route has a big advantage in summer months — quite a lot of it is running through or along the edges of Canarian pine woods, and I was glad of the shade they give. The trees also give off nice smell of pine resin, and there are clumps of thyme that add to the scent. (Here for "thyme" we have genus Micromeria rather than Thymus, and Micromeria has the "centre of diversity" here on Canary islands.)
As I was progressing on my walk, the clouds grew tails

Unlike in spring, this time there was nobody on the trail with me, apart from a young couple with a small dog. I saw the dog first, as it came onto a path and started watching my slow progress towards it with that expression that small dogs have — "it's about to get very loud round here". And of course, as I stepped into her, albeit temporary, territory, she started barking.
Head of the owner popped into the view, asking "Lily" to stop. It was only then I noticed the couple — judging by the clothes and shoes, it looked like they run up from Artenara and just sort of collapsed on the roadside, totally exhausted. The distance from Artenara was relatively short — about 3 km or so, but it is an ascent, plus the whole route is more than 1,500 m above the sea, where you start to feel the drop in oxygen levels. Plus the sun. So. I think the possibly-earliest-ever-rap statement "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" is due a revision. Hikers and runners of other nationalities do, too.
Neat arrangement of pines, no?

Montaña de Artenara looks neat whichever way you look at it

I completed the walk in just over two hours, which gave me time to drop into one of the bars — another distinct advantage of doing the walk in this direction. Artenara has more to offer, bar-wise, than Cruz de Tejeda.


Distance 7.5 km
Up 244 m
Down 527 m
Pictures of Gran Canaria on shutterstock - here
Text and photos by Tamara

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