15 Nov 2011

Hiking up the Sierra del Cid

These hikes are definitely getting harder! Which makes me wish for the umpteenth time that I could do them more frequently (this group, the Centro Excursionista de Alicante, does one a month) so as to train my legs and have those climbs be a bit less painful! Fortunately I've gotten a few more clues as to options for that so fingers crossed! ;o)

Last Sunday we climbed the Sierra del Cid, so named after the heroic exploits in the region Spain's most famous medieval hero: Ruiz Diaz de Vivar, el Cid (you might have seen him under the guise of Charlton Heston). Here's the mountain with such an epic name:

Sierra del Cid seen from La Rabosa

Hmmm... I just realised that when zooming in on the photo I can trace most of our trial! In the centre of the flank you can make out like a beige snake... it's a cemented path (v. steep!) that we followed part of the way up, before cutting across to the left through the trees and the up along the flank until we reached the pass (Paso del Contador) between the smaller peak to the left and the main body. There were quite a few very steep climbs to get up there, particularly the last one up to the peak!

As you can see it was a beautiful day, didn't feel at all like November! And we all started out with smiles on our faces.

Check out the variety in the vegetation:

That was our only dose of "Fall colours" *sigh*.

Why is that to go up you sometimes need to go down first? The whole first part kilometre or two of the hike was mostly making our way down into a dry riverbed (a rambla), having to be very careful with the descent in some spots.

But the advantage of dry riverbeds in areas like this is that they're protected from the dominant winds, even though you can't see it there's frequently water somewhere... and the result is some rather luscious vegetation!

As we climbed back out of there we came across this rather interesting little cave:

For most of this part of the hike the air was delightfully laced with the smell of rosemary that grows wild all over the place in our province:

Even prettier to look at though were the bushes of brezo or Mediterranean Heather (Erica multiflora, really interesting post on it here).

Hmmm... problem with going down at the start of the hike? The mountain seems so much taller than when you started! :p

Once we started climbing, we didn't really stop until we reached the top! Fortunately the gradients varied so we could rest the legs somewhat. The first part was on a forest road:

No speed-walking allowed! :p

The cemented section later was much steeper and not that much fun to climb!

Stopping to gasp for air (and water)

No, that is not a red light! Just my face... :D

did allow to look back and take in the magnificent view...

Luis bringing up the rear to make sure no one gets left behind.

Enough of that hard surface, into the trees please!

Once we hit the trees we veered left towards the smaller peak, hiking along a trail that zig-zagged its way up staying close to the vertical wall.

Until we finally reached the "Paso del Contador" (translates as the "counter's pass"):

Paso del Contador

Why that name? Because in this narrow stretch sheep could only go through one at a time so shepherds could count them and make sure they hadn't left any behind!

Oh my! The climb up from the Pass? Not fun!

Once up there though I got a good look of the other flank of the mountain, felt a bit like a bucket. With plenty of re-planted trees (must have been a forest fire there in days gone by).

The summit of the Cid beckons ahead:

Do I look ready to drag myself up there?

THANK YOU dear life-saving walking sticks!

Ummm... do I have a choice? :p

Well, I MADE IT!!! Bright red and out of breath but I'm up!!!

And the view makes it all worthwhile! (this one definitely needs clicking bigger)

Yikes! Looking down is dizzying!

Via Ferrata del Cid

You can actually climb up that way! It's a "Via Ferrata", cables and safety elements are set in the wall for climbers.

Ok, couldn't miss out on my summit photo! Here I am at 1152 metres (3780 ft) above sea level, after having climbed up about 600m:

And here's the whole group:

Hmmm... is lack of oxygen a problem already when you're a kilometer up? I wouldn't think so... but it might explain this:

Goofyness aside, once mid-morning snack is done, it's time to head back down! We have to be extra careful because not only is it steep, the ground is anything but solid! Lots of loose rocks and slippery little pebbles.

It was quite cloudy while we were up at the top... wouldn't you know that as soon as we head down the sun came out? Figures! But at least it made for a beautiful farewell shot of the summit! ;o)

It's funny seeing everyone stretched out along the path leaving the Paso del Contador... they all look so tiny next to the mountain (click bigger)!

Our guide told us to enjoy the views in both directions as they didn't really look the same going up and down, and he was right! I noticed things I hadn't before.

looking across towards the Maigmó

Remember me mentioning how we zig-zagged our way up the mountain? That path makes for an interesting shot on the way down!

Also more fun going down: that blasted cemented road! Well, more fun for the kids who decided this was a more expedient way down the mountain:

there's more than one way to go down a mountain

So almost 5h after starting out, we're back at the Rabosa... And wishing we hadn't started the trek by going down, down and down because it meant that the end of the hike was going up, up and up again! With tired legs and starving! But once again, everything looked quite different on the way back so it made it all more enjoyable.

Who painted the land climbing up to the Rabosa such pretty colours?

I don't have an exact profile of the hike to show you, but basically we followed most of the PR-CV.29, so starting at point 6 (Rabosa) then climbing down into the riverbed (8), up to the Paso del Contador (10) and then the final climb to the peak of El Cid (11). And then the same thing in the opposite direction to a grand total of 14 km and a 625m climb.

Profile for the PR-CV.29 from the Xorret de Catí to the Sierra del Cid

I've definitely got to get out at least two of the next three weekends or it's going to be really difficult for me to make it up the next peak on Dec. 11th... Alicante's second tallest, the Puig Campana. It's the mountain with a hole in it that towers above Benidorm. And the hike is pretty much a kilometre climb up to the summit at 1406m above sea level. And I fully intend to do it! :o)

Puig Campana seen from Benidorm Island

1 comment:

  1. I like that you said "trace most of our trial." Deep down, that's just what you meant to type.


Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)