Woah! Has it really been 4 1/2 months since I wrote a hiking post?! YIKES!!!
It's not that I haven't done any hiking since then... it's that I didn't do any hiking in Nov-Dec (missed 2 hikes 'cause I was sick, another got rained out) and since Christmas I've been über-busy so haven't had time to edit the photos and write about the hikes! There's also the fact that the Christmas hike and January hike were kind of repeats, so I couldn't muster as much enthusiasm as usual to work on them... I'll get to it at some point ('cause the Christmas one was worth talking about!)
Anyhow, on to this hike! I'd like to get this post out today... 'cause tomorrow I'm heading out again and I don't them mixing up in my mind when I'm writing about them later! :p
So on February 24th we (the Centro Excursionista de Alicante) met up bright and early -as usual- at the Plaza de Toros in Alicante, piled into our cars and headed to a lonely road going from Agost to "Rincón Bello", near the "Vía Verde". Our starting point was at 493 metres above sea level (so ~ 1617 ft) and we were going to cover roughly 19km (~11.8mi) in a circular route that would take us up to the summit of the Maigmó (1296m ~ 4252ft above sea level). Now when I first heard about this hike I wasn't feeling too inspired, because I'd already climbed the Maigmó with the CEA last year in March. But Alberto assured me we were doing a completely different route, with the only thing in common with the previous hike being the actual summit (which we climbed up a different way!). Suddenly the outing was much more interesting!
Just after 9 a.m. we all gathered round Alberto at the starting point for our briefing. And boy was it COLD!!! Barely 5ºC (41ºF). And windy. Hats, gloves, scarves... everyone was bundled up, not a common sight in Alicante! :p
The morning light was gorgeous, and let me get some really nice shots along our trail.
|Barranco de la Zarza with Maigmó in the background|
In Spain it's almost impossible to get completely away from human habitation. Even here in the "middle of nowhere" we came across quite a few houses (holiday/weekend getaways, landowners etc.), but the one which caused the biggest impression on us had nothing to do with its location or architecture, but with its decorative tastes:
Quick! Someone call Dorothy and tell her we've found the Tinman and Toto! ;o)
Another interesting sign of human activity were the remains of old water works we came upon at various points (the town of Agost has actually set up a "Los Caminos del Agua" here, an educational trail to learn about the historical use of water in local agriculture). Check out this lateral canal called the Boquera del Estret! We also saw a bit further up the old damn that would have served to transfer the water to the canal, but the photos don't do it justice...
Parts of our path had us going through some pretty dense vegetation, parts were wide open. Every so often the Maigmó would loom in our path beckoning to us, getting bigger as we got closer...
For the first hour of the hike we only did some very gentle climbing... then all of the sudden we got a downhill part! The randomness of being out of the mountain... having to go down when you really want to climb up to reach your destination! :p
And climb we did! To reach our first major waypoint, the Balcón de Alicante (which is up and behind the tree in this next photo), we did nothing but CLIMB! The first part was a bit steep but ok:
But after a bit it got painfully steep for about 1/2h!!!
Oh well, one step at a time and rest stops whenever needed to simply catch one's breath and enjoy the views! ;o)
Finally at the Balcón de Alicante (998m ~ 3274ft above sea level)!
Great place to stop and enjoy our almuerzo (mid-morning snack) before tackling the summit.
Good thing we had that breather... because the climb up to the Maigmó was a steady 50' of climbing to gain 300m (~984ft) in altitude! Fortunately the views on the way up gave me plenty of excuses to
stop and catch my breath take photos. ;o)
|Kim there's supposed to be a Geocache on that opposing summit!|
When we climbed the Maigmó last year we approached the peak from the other side, almost doing mountain climbing instead of hiking (using chains set in the rock to help us), and we hiked down this side... was interesting to be going up this way, considered the "normal" way.
I love those unique rock formations around the summit... like giant polished boulders!
As I climbed up I recognised certain spots from the descent last year... particularly steep spots where I remembered having to set my bum down on the ground for a safe descent, or having to scramble around rocks! Like this one:
Or this one, the final approximation to the summit:
Definitely need to put away the hiking poles and use your hands to help you get up there! But once up there your fatigue is immediately forgotten and replaced by a sense of exhilaration and you realise the climb was definitely worth it! Here's the actual summit seen from the access point we just climbed up.
And at the summit marker:
(somewhere around there is a Geocache, but I couldn't find it! My first DNF! I have a sneaking suspicion as to its location, but my legs were too wobbly to risk it, and everyone was starting to head back down so I was out of time... good excuse to climb back up and get it... if I ever have Geocaching visitors to bring!)
Check out the views!
|towards the northwest|
|towards the east|
The climb back down required being veeeeery careful! And as I said, in some points it was simply safest to sit your bum down on a rock and ease your way down! :p
Once we got back down to the Balcón de Alicante we had lunch in the same spot then started our return trip which involved hiking around the western side of the Maigmó...
...until we reached the Collado de la Xau, which is the point from which we started our crazy ascent last year.
From there it was all downhill!
Through some very interesting terrain/forests, and with gorgeous views to be seen towards the south.
It's amazing how different that mountain looks from this side! From here it's hard to believe you can actually make it up to the summit! Even crazier to think we actually climbed up this side last year...
Forests, ravines... definitely doesn't seem like Alicante around here... and I love it!!!
Ok... who did this? Confess!!!
Just when I thought I couldn't be any more impressed by this hike... we basically walk through what feels like a canyon!!!
Looking down there's only a trickle of water now, but you can tell by the smooth rocks that massive amounts of water have rushed through here at some point...
Oh! And check it out, we found one of the missing wheels from that vehicle! :p
Exiting the canyon we gradually got more space around us and the landscape changed...
From there on it was easy walking along a dirt road, until we joined up with the road we had started on earlier in the morning:
Nice to see you two again! ;o)
Looking across to the "homestretch" (along that reservoir), my legs were definitely begging to be done already! :p
Fabulous hike!!! 8h, 19km (11.8mi) and over 800m (2625ft) of climbing (since at one point we went downhill before going back up, dunno the total climb). And tomorrow I'm off for another one! Similar to this one in that I'm repeating a summit (the Montcabrer, which I did last year in February with snow and ice), but again we're doing it from a different side so will mostly be a new hike! ;o)