18.4km 👣 1144m ⬆️ 337m ⬇️
I had discovered yesterday that the bus stop we wanted for our bus this morning didn’t exist. I checked google to find it’s location. I held my phone up and walked to that exact spot – several times. I walked up and down the road. I checked the bus company website for the bus stop location. I took Soph there. Nothing.
So we decided we better leave early enough to walk to the next bus stop. Thankfully, this wasn’t far in the end, but I didn’t properly relax until the bus pulled up, our bags were loaded, our tickets were paid, and we were safely settled in our seats. We were off to Tunte!
And what a journey. Soph asked for the window seat so she could snooze after a terrible night’s sleep, but we both quickly realised there wouldn’t be much dozing happening. The roads wound round the rising hills at incredibly steep angles, with drop-off views.
We soon arrived in San Bartolomé de Tirajana – also known as Tunte. It is an attractive town, and we convinced each other that it wasn’t time to set off quite yet. First, coffee.
The pastries were disappointing , but we packed what was left of them (they’d be sure to taste better after a day’s hiking) and after a final re-arrange of the bags’ weights, we were off. The path initially wound steadily (and consistently!) uphill, rising above the town and rewarding us with ever-improving views every time we looked back. But better even than the views was the realisation, as we sank into conversation, that we had hours upon hours of time to simply talk – something we haven’t had for years. With four adults, and now two children, there is never time for one person to talk for hours. To have not just hours, but days to walk in the sun, bask in views, and talk? Bliss!
We came to Degollada de Cruz Grande, from where we could see back to Tunte, and across the Tirajana caldera towards the coast. We could also now see the other side, where the Pilancones pine forests stretched out towards the Presa de Chira. It was much greener than in Fuerteventura, but the plants looked so different to anything I’m used to seeing – cacti and shrubbery adapted to the dry, high environment.
The path tracked the ridge briefly, and then rose again, heading straight for what looked like a solid wall of rock. “Is that the way the path goes?” Soph asked, as I was navigating. “Uh…I don’t think so…” I said, looking at the slab of rock instead of the map…but before I got any further she spotted the path – a thin light thread winding up the rock – and a tiny person traversing it above us. Enthused by the sight (speaking for myself at least!), and having rehydrated and refueled, we set off again.
It was pretty steep and very hot on the way up, with little shade (though Soph used the mini cave pictured to get a minute or two’s respite). We paused as some downhill mountain bikers passed, impressed at their boldness on the steep and winding path. As we topped out, it looked like we would be going back into the forest, but Sophie noticed a ‘viewpoint’ graffiti on a rock, so we veered off path to check it out, and found the perfect lunch spot.
After lunch we gained some cloud and forest cover, and soon reached the high point for our path.
From here the views just kept getting better and better, blowing our minds pretty much every time we turned a corner. I can’t begin to put into words how spectacular this hiking area is. All the superlatives….just imagine all the superlatives here…and remember that these photos were taken on phones which doesn’t begin to do it justice. It was stunning!
Just before we got to Cruz de Tejeda, the fog came in briefly, reducing our visibility to only a few metres, but it quickly cleared again, to yet more breathtaking views. Cruz de Tejeda itself was less of a town than I had expected – although there was a tourist information office and a big hiking trails map, there was no shop (the nearest one is Artenara, we were told at tourist information) and no public toilets (though there are a couple of bars and hotels). We bought local goat’s cheese, fruit, and some bottled water from a roadside stall (future hikers: he accepted a credit card!), and admired the beautiful warm poncho that we couldn’t afford to carry (our bags were heavy enough as they were!)
Leaving Cruz de Tejeda I was conscious of the fading light. We’d had a slow day, had a steep hill immediately ahead of us, and then some gentle climbing to follow, and we needed to find somewhere to camp before dark. Wild camping isn’t officially allowed in Gran Canaria, though it generally seems to be tolerated as long as it’s done respectfully. I had identified a place I knew would work (from reading another hiker’s blog and comparing it to the map) but it was still fairly far away, I studied the map for closer options, and picked a place that I thought would work – far enough away from towns, roads and with a flat area close to but off the path – but I knew there were no guarantees we would find it to be camp-able when we got there.
The sun was setting now, making for ever-more dramatic views as we circled the edge of the basin, in awe of the natural crags rising up from its centre.
We passed a viewpoint – and the road (always a strange feeling!) – and headed into the forest, now scanning in earnest for a camp spot. The first place we could have camped wasn’t a great choice, but we marked it on the map in case we needed to come back to it. The second spot – not far ahead (but uphill!) – was much better, and I was glad we had persevered. Just a few minutes walk away from the ridge, in a large flat spot, surrounded by trees, and slightly hidden from the path.
We weren’t the first people who had camped there. (It was beautiful and pristine until you looked a little closer – unfortunately previous campers had not been too too disciplined about leave no trace principles. MOMENTARY RANT: never, ever leave toilet paper in the wild! If you planned ahead well enough to bring tissue with you, then plan ahead well enough to bring a zip lock bag that you can use to pack out your dirty tissues too. /END RANT.) However, the one big advantage of this for us was that under the pile of rocks, which had presumably been cleared for a previous tent, was a fire ring! I almost never have camp fires when wild camping, but if there’s already a fire ring, and plentiful firewood, and it’s not too windy, and you have the means to keep the fire small and safe, and it’s cold…well, in that case, a fire is practically begging to built.
We set up, did all our campsite chores, then built a small fire and sat around it warming ourselves until it got too low. When we turned in, Sophie asked me what my ‘high’ of the day was. Stunning views, hours of conversation, an open fire under the open sky…I couldn’t choose. I drifted off thinking about a good day.