20 Mar 2012

When hiking turns into mountain climbing: up the Maigmo, Alicante's "balcony"

I still can't seem to get these hiking posts up within a couple of days of the actual hike! Part of the problem is timing... I get home Sunday evening exhausted, and then Monday I have to start preparing the week's classes and I don't have much time for the blog until Friday comes round... Add to that the many photos to sort through, choose the ones for the Facebook album (and narrate them in Spanish) and try and reduce the selection as much as possible so I can tell the story I want to tell here on the blog. And then edit them... and then write... I've got to try and streamline the process (perhaps taking fewer photos would help!)

So this is last Sunday's hike, March 11th. Our destination: the Maigmó, one of the closest mountains to the city of Alicante (I can see it out my back window, would have added a picture but it's been hidden by clouds for 2 days now!), and part of the mountains that create a climate barrier between the very dry (and brown) coast and the more humid and green interior. It's also the only area in the Province I'd been hiking around before I started doing these hikes last Fall. I've gone several times with a friend and our dogs to an area on the interior face of the Maigmó known as Planisses, nice fields and forests with lots of paths for some good hiking (just don't get lost, not many markings to guide you!). The dogs love it! And it's only about 1/2h from home. :o)

There are quite a few weekend/summer homes in the area. We parked near one and then hit the trails through the pine forest and shrubbery, which I noticed was quite a bit browner than other years I've been in the area (this winter has been the driest in decades!).




The paths we followed were quite a bit steeper than others I've hiked previously around here... I had to stop and catch my breath a number of times! It's been how many months now? 6? And I still can't seem to catch my second wind once we start going uphill! grrr....


All that climbing was pretty much along a parallel course to the mountain range, which after the climb I could see stretching out before me. Gave me the first glimpse of the rest of our trek: continuing higher up to a point outside the right side of this photo, then walking along the ridge (a very wide ridge) towards the left and the peak of the Maigmó.


Like I said, I've been hiking around here several times before, but I never knew there were snow wells!!! Lovely surprise seeing them here, just wish they hadn't been covered up by these ugly mesh fences... Here's the Pou de Neu de Planisses:


and the Pou de Neu del Carsacalet with remnants of an old building next to it:


part of which was dug into a cave!


Nice little hobbit house, eh? ;o)

Walking up top along the ridge was a lot less strenuous... although it gave us a perfect example of how anything can happen up on the mountain: one of the hikers put his foot down wrong on a loose rock and seriously twisted his ankle! We had to call the emergency services to take him to a hospital and a couple of guys helped him hobble back to an easier access point so they could get to him...


The easy going along the crest was pretty short. Soon we arrived at the Forest Fire lookout house, from which we could see part of our path across the Maigmonet, with the main peak of the Maigmó just behind it.


And as often happens in hiking, everything that goes down must go up again... and the Maigmonet offered us a nice little steep climb to its summit.


With this fabulous view of the Sierra del Cid (my November hike!) when I stopped at one point to catch my breath:

the saddle-shaped Sierra del Cid

Then it was down again, having to be very careful about where we put our feet because it was a steep descent down the other side of the Maigmonet, and with lots of loose rocks. Some people decided to take the safer "ass-route" down! Whatever it takes to keep from falling, right? ;o)


Here's a view of the face of the Maigmonet we hiked down, from that rocky outcropping in the centre, then hugging the rock wall on the right:


And this was the next challenge, getting up to the peak of the Maigmó from this very steep side!


I thought there must be some hidden trail up near the base of that rock face, right? We were told we'd have to go up a few metal rungs but that's all... uh-huh... they just didn't want to scare us into hiking around to the easier other side!


Once out of the trees the trail got very steep, very quickly! Trekking poles were collapsed to their smallest size and strapped to the backpacks because we needed our hands to scramble up some of these rocks!


But when we hit the rock wall... forget steep, it was VERTICAL!!!


Can you make out the metal rung that girl in the blue sweatshirt is clinging to? There were a couple of those at key points in the climb, as well as a chain at one point, but otherwise it was mostly mountain climbing! Finding a good spot to wedge your boot, good grips for your hands, and up you go! I did a couple of years of mountain climbing in Mexico in high school, but that was last century! And not in hiking boots nor wearing a backpack... So I don't mind admitting that I was more than just a little nervous about this!


And yet at the same time exhilarated! :o)


Once up top it was like... Yippeeeeeee!!! I made it! But ten steps later... whaaaaaat??? Now we have to climb down?!


And then up again...


Lots of scary fun! Which was rewarded by this fabulous view of the range we'd just hiked across:


And it wasn't over... the peak is atop of that:


We crossed near the base of that smooth rock, holding on to a chain in case we lost out balance:


A little more climbing...


At one point I had to sit down and just breath, drink water and have something sweet 'cause I was starting to get dizzy. Scary. The guys with me were very helpful and watchful thankfully!

The peak (and lunch!) at last!!! :o)


Although it's not the highest peak I've climbed in Alicante (only 1296m above sea level -4252ft-), in a certain manner it was the most impressive because of how narrow it is and the sheer drop beneath... definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo! 


Has great views of the coastal area. This shot is looking down towards Alicante, which is sadly a bit lost in the haze. I guess the clear-cut winter skies are over, hazy summer skies are becoming more frequent.


We got a treat while up there: hang-gliders floated by for a visit! :o)


They came up real close and we were all waving to each other. Lots of fun and damn impressive what they can do to stay up in those things! :D

video

After we finished lunch we took our usual group shot (someone -me!- needs to remember to bring a tripod, our "president" keeps getting left out of these shots!):


And then headed on down the eastern face of the Maigmó (the "easier" one to hike up).


Was a good reminder of how in hiking going down can often be much harder than climbing up!

Once we made it down to the recreational area known as the "Balcón de Alicante" (Alicante's Balcony), it was just a simple matter of following some forest paths heading back in the direction of the cars...


Once out of the forest we hit a dirt road that went through fields of blooming almond trees!


How many times have I said before that the almond blossoms were coming to an end? Wrong again!!! The fabulous lighting conditions gave me a chance to play with my shots... but since I've already shared plenty of these with you guys before, only two this time! ;o)


I haven't seen a field this beautiful before... this is what you hope to see when you're out looking for almond trees in bloom, a whole bunch of them together:


We were out hiking for about 8 1/2h (including quite a few stops waiting for people who had trouble with some of the climbs and descents), I have no idea about the distance covered, but apparently we climbed a total of 900m (2953ft). Was a thrilling yet scary and exhausting hike! :o)

6 comments:

  1. Ay, que preciosura! Almond trees! Squeeeee!!! :D

    I absolutely love looking over all of your photos, Cris!

    Although I must say: you have GUTS to have gone climbing vertically. I don't even like to use ladders for my fear of falling over. o_O

    -Barb

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    1. Barb, next one you get CHERRY trees! :o)

      And it was actually easier climbing that wall than facing the idea of sliding back down the hill leading up to the wall! :p

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  2. Another awesome hike. Gorgeous photos! Loved the vertical climbing and you got some fun action shots there. I've been using hiking poles a lot more lately myself and we don't have hikes any where near as tough as yours are. Better to be safe than sorry tho.

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    1. I loved getting the action shots too, although some of the others were probably thinking "what's she taking a picture of now???" :p

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  3. Amazing hike and photos. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it! :o)

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