So I've finally started hiking again! If it hadn't been for that damn cycling accident I would have been doing this all Spring, and wouldn't have been so apprehensive of starting up again now... nothing like a bum knee (added to an iffy ankle from last year's incident) to make you think twice about hitting some rough terrain and climbs...
When I got back from Belgium / New Zealand last January, I immediately started looking for groups of people based out of Alicante who go hiking together, hoping to find some like-minded people I could discover our backcountry with. Not an easy task! Sadly, I think for most people in this city the mountains are just there to decorate the landscape inland, and go play in the snow whenever that happens... Otherwise they're mostly city and beach folk! Fortunately I did find the Centro Excursionista de Alicante (basically a group of people who enjoy mountain-related activities i.e. hiking, mountain climbing, spelunking, mountain biking...). Unfortunately for me they only do one hike per month! (they organise 1 activity per weekend, so the other weekends are mountain climbing or biking or spelunking). There were only 2 hikes I could have gone on before my accident, and I was out of town for both of them! So I ended up bookmarking their website and waiting for the leg to get better and then summer to be over to try again (almost no one goes hiking here in the summer, the heat and sun make it suicidal!).
Last weekend was it! First hike of the season , so a relatively "easy" one to allow people to get those muscles going again... I found their "local" (offices/meeting rooms) and went in to get some info, and then showed up last Sunday bright and early (ugh!) at the Bull Ring to meet everyone and hop in a car and head into the mountains.
We may not have the Pyrenees in Alicante, or any of the other major Spanish mountain ranges, but I did learn that Alicante is the 5th most mountainous province in Spain! Never go to bed without learning something new, right? ;o)
So we piled into the cars, and headed inland, straight for Biar, a small town about an hour west of Alicante. We started the hike walking into the morning sun, headed towards the Cumbre del Reconco, height 1210 m above sea level (you can just make out the antennas marking our destination if you click this photo bigger, just off-centre):
Usually I'm a shutterbug, can't keep my itchy shutter finger still! But because of the knee I was trying out my parents' walking sticks for the first time, and having your hands full isn't conducive to photography! By the time I took my first photo we'd been walking for almost half an hour... and as you can see we're already pretty high up... it was pure climbing!
My face was its usual bright red after half an hour of non-stop climbing... I guess that's what happens when you're off your legs for over 6 months! :p
We continued on up through the reforested pine forests,
Occasional breathers gave me a chance to look back towards Biar and admire the view:
We were a pretty large group (over 30 people I think), with varying hiking speeds, so the guy in the lead would put out these blue flags whenever we came to a crossing so the people in the back would know which way we were headed!
Finally, the top!!!
After an hour and a half of steady climbing, we were at 1210 m. About 500 m above our starting point. And it felt GREAT! I have no idea about the distance walked... Funny, in Belgium they'd tell us the distance of the hikes, here it's the estimated time and the height climbed...
After a half hour snack / photo-op break, we headed back down, winding around the other flank fo the mountain. The mountains on the other end of this valley (with the town Castalla and its castle in the centre) are the ones just behind Alicante. If we were a bit higher up (and it were less hazy) then we could have seen the Mediterranean through there...
Why is going down always so much faster than going up? After only 15 minutes look how far we were from those antennas!
This path led us through a nature walk, with signs giving names and info on certain plants. Sadly sun and wind and human (?) activity have made most of the signs unreadable.
Our next rest spot was right next to a natural spring, with some delicious and very cold water in it! Felt great going down the throat... even better on the face and head (I got my hat wet)!
|Font del Chorro de Fontalbres|
It collects in this pool, which might have been a lovely swim spot, if the water weren't so freezing! :p
As it was, made for a lovely photo-op...
Specially as a reflecting pool!
This part of the trail is a lot closer into town (and as we discovered a bit later there are wide paths where cars can come really close). Proof of this:
|¡VIVA LOS NOVIOS!|
It was definitely a gorgeous spot for bridal pictures, and we all cheered them on! ;o)
Onwards through the fields and the woods...
but when we made it to a dirt road, all of the sudden my legs felt like mush! I was sooo ready to be done!
And Biar's castle kept poking up just over the rise... as if tantalising us by oh so slowly getting closer.
Finally, we're back where we started!!! At the Sanctuary above Biar:
|Santuario de la Virgen de Gracia, Biar.|
|let's peek inside...|
Great hike! Felt really good to be back in the mountains and on my legs... the knee barely bothered me (but thank heavens for those walking sticks or the climb would have been much harder!). And a good workout, 5h were definitely enough to reduce my legs to mush... they were aching for several days after! I need to do more of this. I need to find other people who know the trails here because once a month isn't going to cut it (next hike is in 3 weeks)! I was going to go out today with another group based out of a town further north, but they cancelled because not enough people had signed up (it's an ecotourism group). Oh well, not going gave me the time to write this post... plus I have some boxes that are demanding my attention! ;o)
Also, I now know I need to go back to Biar and explore this:
I LOVE castles! :o)