La Maroma

Hubby has been wanting to climb ‘La Maroma’ since we arrived here in November; standing at 6788 ft tall it rises up behind the campsite and dominates the skyline.

We had planned to climb it on saturday as the weather was looking good and after the events on friday we decided that we both needed the distraction and to go ahead with it.

Up and away from site nice and early it took us about an hour to drive around to the back of the mountain and then about another hour (due to poor signs!!) to find the start of the walk. The track down to the car park was four miles of ‘off road’ driving with pot holes the size of craters – driving is never boring around here, but eventually we got to the right place.

The walk starts at around 3300 ft so you are pretty much half way up already. It felt pretty ‘nippy’ when we got out the car and I could see my breath so I was glad of the gloves I had packed in my rucksack. The weather was forecast to be about 21 degrees but we knew that it would be colder up top and so took plenty of layers with us. However, the weather did the opposite of what we were expecting and got hotter the higher we climbed and by the time we were at the top we had shed all our layers and had them tied around our rucksacks and waists!!It felt like 25 degrees at the summit and there were people walking around in shorts and one chap who looked like he just had his underpants on – not what you expect at the top of a mountain!!

The first third of the walk was through woodland and the smell of the pine trees was fresh and intoxicating. We climbed steadily and got glimpses of the summit every now and then between the trees. It looked a long way up!! Once through the trees we started to climb more steeply and scramble up and over rocks. The path was posted and arrowed the whole way up which was a good job as the route was difficult to make out at some points.

We haven’t climbed anything of this height since leaving the Lake District ten years or so ago and with me in new walking boots (probably not my most sensible move but I got away with no blisters!!) we took it nice and steady with plenty of pit stops along the way – note to self; I need to do more cardio exercise!!

We reached the summit in a modest four hours and sat for an hour or so in the sunshine eating lunch and chilling out. The views were not as spectacular as we had been hoping for due to a heat haze but we could still see across to the Sierra Nevada mountains to the north. Our descent took us three hours and by the time we got back to the car we were both pretty exhausted. Seeing the car as we turned the last corner was a welcome sight and we celebrated with a nice cuppa and some chocolate (vegan but not raw!!) One of the nicest things about finishing a particularly long walk is the relief you get when you take your boots off. It is always a moment to be savoured and it didn’t disappoint!!

We were tired by the time we got back to Bessie but not so tired that we couldn’t enjoy a glass (or two) of chilled beer…….The last few days have been interesting in terms of ‘walking’ and getting around the caravan is proving hilarious but every time we step outside and see Maroma we get a renewed sense of achievement but strangely not a desire to repeat the experience. Hubby has promised that he wont want to climb another mountain for some time and I have it in writing just to make sure!!!

Sierra Nevada Mountains in background

View looking north towards Granada

First glimpse of the summit

Pathway getting steeper and more narrow. The scenery changed all the time and this part felt a bit like the film set from Lord of the Rings. At other times it felt like an old film called ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ with narrow pathways cutting through big huge overhanging boulders.

For a while we seemed to be constantly stepping over lines and lines of caterpillars; all walking nose to tail through the undergrowth.

About a third of the way up and just before the ‘serious’ climbing got underway

Getting closer???

The first bits of snow

Halfway up and down to two layers!

Still doesn’t look any closer!

Ok, getting nearer now

Climbing higher

The end is in sight!

Views to the south and out to sea towards Africa (take my word for it!!)

Hubby at the top of the monument thingy at the top of the mountain! He started a craze with his pose as everyone was doing it once he had been up. Health and Safety would have a field day as the metal climbing bars were loose and rickety and an accident waiting to happen!!

More views…

Us at the summit

On the way back down. The first hour or so of descending. We are in stage two of the bliss/pain factor by now.

Stage one – climbing –  first its ok then it hurts

Stage two – descending – first its blissful then it hurts

Stage three – walking on level ground – first its blissful then it hurts like hell……

And remember we did this for FUN!!!!

 

 

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What a difference a year makes..

This time last year with two weeks to go until the big day, this was the view from my back garden. Fast forward to now and…..well I won’t torment you will more sunny pictures but today we went out and I had on a thin long-sleeved t-shirt and I was hot so you get the idea.

We have been here just over a month now which doesn’t seem possible at all and the build up to Christmas is just getting going. The Christmas decorations didn’t go up until the beginning of December which was refreshing as the shops were in full swing even before we left at the end of October back home.

Everywhere you go there are children being coerced into having their photo taken with Santa – some willingly and some definitely not so. They are also big on huge models of the Nativity scene. The one we saw today was massive and had the whole town of Bethlehem in it. Some things are the same as home – all the lights and decorations – although no trees in the shopping malls or any public places come to that – and some things are very different.

There are the usual aisles full of chocolates and toys and it is interesting to see what foods they traditionally eat over the festive period. Lots of cakes, wrapped sweets and sweet breads. The other thing they are also big on is their meats – not good for a veggie like me. They have whole areas set aside for great big legs of cured meats. It is quite gross and they even have their own special bags that they bring along to put them in. We passed someone coming out today who had four trotters stuck out from amongst all his shopping – yuck!! Needless to say we avoid that aisle like the plague.

I must say it really doesn’t feel much like Christmas to us. All our associations with the holiday season are for snow, roaring log fires and glasses of mulled wine. 27 degree sunshine like it was last week makes us think of sun tan lotion and summer holidays and not Father Christmas coming down the chimney – I mean we haven’t even got one of those!!!!

That said, we will be celebrating in our own way, decorating the caravan and spending the day in a food and drink induced stupor.

We are discovering lots about the Andalucia area that we like. We went up into the hills on Saturday looking for a farmers market that had promised organic produce. We went to a town called Antequera about 30 miles north of Malaga. The autoroute went through the mountains and then opened up to a vast plain. We were quite surprised that it was so flat given the mountain ranges around here. We weren’t expecting the town to be very big but were really surprised when we got there. It had a lot going on and was a really pretty town with quite a medieval feel to it. Apparently there has been a settlement there for some 5000 years dating back to the bronze age. We fell in love with it and with three campsites it is high on the list for the next stop off.

We are also about 60 – 80 miles away from the start of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the summer there is plenty of walking, mountaineering and cycling to be done there and then over winter you have ski-ing. Neither of us has skied for a long time but we are both looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with the skill and this area is one of the highest in Europe and most snowsure with a ski season running from now until the end of March – April. Being so close means that we can head up there early in the morning, get in a days skiing and then head back to the coast for a beer by the sea in the evening. How cool is that??

So, I have a feeling that we may be spending a little longer in this area than we originally thought. Maybe not at this campsite but I don’t think we will be going far when we do move on.