Walking on the rim of a volcano (Caldera de Taburiente)
Roque de Los Muchachos Travel Blog› entry 39 of 40 › view all entries
Another turn off started my never ending, it seemed, hairpin turns for the next 40 km (28 mi).
The first area was very dense with tall trees and much thick green vegetation. There were a few flowers in bloom.
When I reached Montana Tagoya, the incline increase and the density of trees lessened but, they were taller and more dramatic. The coastal towns were looking smaller and smaller.
Next, I ented the Parque Natural Las Nieves. It’s a protected national park. Here, I began to see twisted, tortured bands of lava and the colored bands of soil were sporadic. There were fewer trees and the land was more rolling.
There was a very dramatic spot where there is an almost vertical rock layer between the soil layers.
I continued higher, oh, and the sky was still blue. There were clouds but, I still had very good visibility.
Soon, though, I reached a height where the clouds started to interfere with my view. I was approaching the upper ridge. The wind had picked up…….tremendously. The clouds would come over the top of the ridge and push down on the northeastern side of the volcano…….it was extremely dramatic. Looking back, I could see the extreme north eastern corner of the islands and the perfectly round reservoir on the lower flanks of the mountain.
Now there were no trees, a bit of low brush but not even much of that. There were dramatic diagonal bands of red and orange earth. There would be alternations of perfect visibility and cloud covered white-out.
Having reached 2250 m (6750 ft), I was at Pico de la Cruz. This path over the volcano was once used by goatherds for driving their flocks to higher grazing areas. This was also used as a northern path for reaching Puntagorda and Tigarafe to exchange chestnuts for almonds. This is one of the paths with the greatest height differences in the entire volcanic path network.
It was COLD here! The wind was blowing and visibility was changing with moment. The hexagonal pattern on the wire fencing was covered with ice in some areas.
I climbed the Pico de la Cruz path to reach its summit and was rewarded with my first view of the Caldera. At first I could only see the top of the eroded peaks of the ridge but, on moments later, as the frozen air was turning me into a popsicle, more and more of the caldera came into view.
With each new moment, I had a new and interesting view down into the caldera. My hands were literally hurting from the cold and I had to turn my back on the caldera every other minute to try and lessen the pain on my hand and face. I had not prepared for such cold. I had worn pants, shoes, and even a light jacket but, I needed Nordic wear not resort wear.
After 20 minutes , or so, of sporadic moments of clarity, I decided to move on. There was more to see and I still hadn’t reached the high point for this trek, Los Muchachos.
I continued my ascent stopping now and then for dramatic clouds whipping over the top or volcanic formations. An increasing amount of the vegetation was encased in ice….
Continuing on, I reached an altitude of complete cloud cover. This was continual white-out. The winds were rocking the car from side to side and it came over the rim and down the north side.
I turned down the Observatory road to reach the summit. I could see nothing. I kept going. Reaching the top, everything was covered in ice, even much of the rock surfaces.
There was a tiny ranger station……poor guy! Other people stopping at the top were only out of their vehicles for a minute or two. It was that cold and windy. It cut right through you like a knife. I got out and tried to see ……anything but, got back in the car for a break and hopefully, a moment of clearing.
Patience pays off, I could see a bit of blue sky.
I climbed to the Roque point at 2426 meters (almost 7500 ft). The dramatic monolith rocks there were covered with ice.
For a quick moment, I was even able to see some of the observatories. The largest telescope in the world is located here. The GTC, Giant Telescope Canarias, took seven years and cost €130 million. Its installation had been hampered by weather conditions and the logistical difficulties of transporting equipment to such a remote location. The GTC Project is a partnership formed by several institutions from Spain and Mexico, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the University of Florida, and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). Planning for the construction of the telescope, which started in 1987, involved more than 1,000 people from 100 companies.
I began my descent.
I returned to Pico de la Cruz. Upon my approach, it seemed to be a bit clearer. I could see much farther into the caldera. I couldn’t see the southern side but, I could see down deep into the chasm. I was so glad that I had taken the risk.
Continuing on, I stopped a few times on the way down to capture areas that weren’t possible on my ascent. The sun was bright and the lower I got, the warmer it became.
There was a beautiful pink flowering bush that I had to stop for and take a picture of the blossom.
I was almost at the mountain coastal road level when I stopped at a terrace for a view of the coast and Santa Cruz. Their nearby former volcano stands out …..It’s an incredible sight.