Panting a little at around 10,000 feet as my feet took me slowly up the last steep incline near to the highest point in Spain.
With yet another 2,000 feet to go to the mountaintop itself, my own target summit had just been reached as I started to descend over a crest into the vast ancient caldera for a more leisurely down hill walk into this Martian like landscape!
It’s not on mainland Spain itself that is the highest point of the country but here on the island of Tenerife and Mount Teide. At the height I reached little grows and the plants that do are the explorers, scouts and I guess travel writers themselves of the plant kingdom.
Whilst they get their foothold into whatever they can to sustain growth, which is very meagre indeed, I too, have to be aware of my own foothold. As under my soles the ground on this last slope is fine with slippery tiny ground-down pieces of pyroclasts making each sliding pace a minor challenge at this breath stealing altitude.
Although it is made worse by having shortly arrived straight from sea level. Just off the trail larger craggy chunks of lava and basalt are waiting for you to turn an ankle on if you happen wander off it.
However all this moderate effort is most certainly worth it just to experience this relatively very accessible unique volcanic landscape first hand. Less than a few miles from the bustling beaches of Southern Tenerife at the Samara view-point and I am trekking in what are the higher foothills of Mount Teide and on the trail of the lonesome pines!
Escaping the crowds for the clouds!
At this height and nearly on the top of this Atlantic island you are often above the clouds and here that provides some of the most stunning views to the group of islands that help make up The Canaries.
OK I am now 60, I carry a bit of extra weight but this walking trail does take a little bit of effort but believe me the views and being in what for many, including myself coming from the rolling lush green downs of Dorset, is an alien landscape but it has its own superb beauty.
You simply just have to marvel at the way nature finds ways to exploit what at first seems to be an environment where nothing could possibly grow. With hardly any nutritious soil, scorching temperatures during the day and below freezing at night.
TREKKING IN TENERIFE AT YOUR PACE
Taking it at my own pace the walk lasted a couple of hours and the rewards were so many. The views over the whole of the island are spectacular as are those of Mount Teide itself.
Teide National Park has many such trekking routes but I really enjoyed my ‘Lonesome Pine’ perambulation as I called it. Seeing and experiencing what is a side of Tenerife that is so much underrated.
The very hardy Canary Island pine forests start to run out at this altitude and as you climb they become very lonely, as do you. Here a few desert plants and flowers mostly brooms and daisies do survive and taking over from them the plants that perhaps were the cradle of all living creatures the lichens and mosses take over and they are barely nothing more than green smudges on the rocks at times.
Getting away from the buzz on the beaches to the almost solemnity of the summit on Spain’s highest mountain is a real and rewarding contrast.
It was perhaps a near religious/scientific experience rolled into one that I shall keep with me and I highly recommend you try it too!
It is a magical place certainly very different and where millions of years ago in similar places life itself started. Witness that process repeating and taking place here now in the 21st century in this maritime outpost of Spain.