The final part of this series now, descending down lava flows across pumice to reach Pico Viejo and finally the Rocks des Garcia. A long hot wander around moon cliffs and rubble tracks, the tourist trail and expensive water.
Leaving the relative comfort of the summit plateau and heading back into the shadow of the mountain you hit the lava trail, and soon get to see what to most looks the part of a real volcano. A quick photo opportunity then the steady clamber and picking paths through the broken rocks of Teide’s last eruption in 1760. The paths are jagged, the hand holds scratchy and the visions around are wild, tangled, lumps of rock.
As the sun rises and the shadow leaves the landscape, glimpses of the West of the island become clearer, the haze burns away and the coastline is revealed.
The going gets easier once you reach the pumice slopes of Pico Viejo, a gentle crumbling crunching sound and feeling akin the hoary snow. The only problem is the rising temperature as the sun rises higher in the sky. The dark lava flow ends abruptly with a few broken shards and you are out into quiet a gentle landscape. Rock chunks litter the floor, but there is greenery once more.
A short hop across the yellow land and you climb back up the edge of the crater. The wind at this point was still fairly fierce, so excursions to the very edge were not the best idea, no matter how tempting it was or curious you are. I climbed the rim of the crater to the summit and looked in. It had everything you would want from a big hole in the ground. Steep sides, rubble, and a long way down. The guides say you cannot get into the crater, though what reason you might want to I don’t know. All I can say is, I went up, I had a discreet peek over the edge, took some pictures and headed back to the main track. Job done and well worth the time.
The cliffs are the remains of the lava plug, which at some point collapsed to leave the big hole you can stare into. It’s best not to think about the idea of what may be going on underneath what is just a big firework powered by the molten core of the Earth. I moved on, wondering how fast you could get to sea level and find a boat. Probably not that fast.
The real descent starts when you turn off the main track and start the downward slide to the Canadas del Teide below. Rocks, greenery, and lots of rocks. Hard on the feet, dusty and thirsty work. Sliding and clambering over and around the detritus of the mountain. Fascinating on the eyes, aching feet and the ever-present chance of a turned ankle on all the loose fist sized rocks making up the trail.
Sometimes like this above, sometimes like this, below.
And that’s how it goes, for the next two hours, Nothing seems to get closer below. Just a bit more detailed.
The shapes in the rock formations continue to become ever more unbelievable, but it goes on descending, clambering into the green aisles between the lava flows, clambering back out again, searching for the track or one of the intermittent markers ahead to get some clue as to the best route down. All the while the sun climbs, the heat rises and you drink more water, it is an unforgiving place.
Even on level ground the pea gravel abounds and confounds the feet, making it a slow careful process coming down to the Parador and the Rock below.
After a while, you do arrive on the flat, level ground. And as you make your way around the rocks des Garcia, you encounter clean, tidy, sweet-smelling tourists who look at you with a mixture of sympathy for your dusty and tired demeanor, yet are horrified at the sweaty, smelly object looking at the same piece of geology they are perusing. The guide moves them on quickly, just in case I try to sneak into his group. I had other ideas, the cafe at the Parador. The hotel for tourists just a mile away now. I had run out of water earlier and while not about to collapse with exhaustion or dehydration, it wasn’t the best time of day to be wandering a dusty track with nothing to drink. I’d left the refuge a five am. with a bit over two and a half litres in my bag. The refuge sold water from a machine at 2.95 for a half litre. I was to discover it was much the same at the Parador cafe, all the prices are terrible. Which is unfortunate because they get lots of visitors. Who, after looking at the prices, leave. Very much a wasted opportunity, There is no shade for visitors, just a few outside tables, you pay for the toilet, or buy food to get one go in the toilet with your receipt. And the food is not that good. Luckily I did have my own food, and I found some shade by the old chapel to sit and eat, and savour the most expensive water on the island. Enough moaning, it is though the worst cafe in Spain.
The lizards do love a picnic, they come out to look and are quite willing to step up and eat with you, fighting amongst themselves to get anything you put down. It was only the bigger males that eat the peanuts.
After lunch I walked around the Rocks des Garcia, Very impressive again as you can see from the pictures. But rocks do get a bit samey after a while don’t they. So I’ll throw in the towel now and let you come down from your heights of joy over this collection of words and images. I had hoped to climb another hill, but with only half a litre of water it was not practical, I returned to my shady spot and waited for the bus. Two memorable days on Mount Teide, It was a challenging descent, and don’t let my humour fool you. I enjoyed every moment in amongst the rubble.
Next time I’ll head out for the lower summits of the Roque del Conde and the Roque Imoque. Yes there will be some rocks, but views as well as some social history.
Have fun and enjoy the weather. Whatever it brings let it bring a smile too.