La Palma September 27th – These boots are made for walking (but am i…?)

I wake just after zeven, it’s still dark outside. After coffee, breakfast and a shower it’s light and the banks are open. I stroll to the local bank to make a deposit on the account of the Tenerife Chandler for the Victron Diodebridge. There was a bit of a misunderstanding but now they can finally send it to La Palma. When I get back on the boat Bas also arrives. Very Dutch, right on time (09.00). We first have a look at his walkingguide to decide what walk we will be doing today. We diecide on a walk up North through the forest and through 13 tunnels. It’s a walk of about 18k, about 7 hours of walking (quite steep up- and downhill…), including the walk to the start of the route it’s about 25k (about 9 hours). That might be a bit too much for me but there are some shorter alternative routes (though less spectaculair). When we look at the bustimetable, the bus leaves at 09.15 but it’s already 09.14. In a hurry we rush to the busstop….but we get there just a minute too late and the bus is gone. Next one will leave in an hour….so it’s time for coffee on one of the many terraces. After the coffee we wander into an ancient building where usually there are some exhibitions, but not today…. When I switch on my phone to see what time it is it’s already 10.15. With a short sprint we hope to catch the bus otherwise it will certainly be difficult to do the longer walk. We are in luck and we catch the bus just in time (it’s slightly late). At around 11.00 we arrive at Los Sauces, get some breadrolls for lunch on the way and start the walk towards the start of the route. It’s about 5k and when the road turns into a two way street we try our luck hitchhiking up to Los Tilos (the start of the official walk). The second car, with two local Spanish women . stops and takes us up to Los Tilos. Excellent, saves us about an hour of walking. At Los Tilos we start our descent up to the first lookoutpoint, at that point we will have to decide if we actually will take the long route. It’s about an hour of uphill hiking to the first lookout point but we keep an uptempo walking pace so we overtake the other tourists and arrive in just 45 minutes. Sweat is pouring from my head but I feel quite fit so we decide to at least start the long route, we can always turn back (in theory at least). From the first lookoutpoint it will be at least two more hours of climbing and uphill hiking….. The road narrows into just a small path and it gets more steep. Often it’s more climbing then walking. When we arrive at a dry riverbed we see a steep path at the other side and we follow that route. It’s even steeper now and the path is filled with loose pineneedles, quite slippery at times. At a T-junction the left route looks quite dangerous so we take the right one. After a while this one turns out to be a deadend…so we turn back and try the left one. To follow this one we first have to cross a steep rocky hillside by balancing on a protruding piece of rock. We manage that and continue our route. It doesn’t seem like a path that is used quite recently and this one too gets more and more tricky… Then we hear voices down below, some people are walking through the dry riverbed. Maybe that’s the way to go then? We decide to turn back and see if we maybe missed a sign there. Back at the riverbed Bas looks in his walkingroutebooklet and there it clearly states that we should follow the riverbed upriver…the route we took is also mentioned but just to say that you should not take that one because it’s very steep and slippery. So the riverbed it is! But first we have a bit of lunch and I can rest my legs a bit. For the last hour my calves and upperlegs have started to cramp up so walking isn’t getting any easier. The firm pace o had before is now quite a bit slower. Bas on the other hand is still walking like a rockgoat… But finally we arrive at the highest point of this walk. There are some small waterfalls and the water is clear and fresh. I am hot an salty so a few splashes of nice cold water is quite refreshing! A bit further down the path there is the first bit of descent. It’s a steep rocky descent just next to a small wild water gutter (makes you wanna have a cold beer, but that will have to wait …). Since it’s steep and partly over wet rocks you have to keep your wits about so not to slip. After this descent we come to the level of the 13 tunnels. These are usually quite low and narrow so you have to use your torch and keep your head down. And the second one, of almost 100 meters, is also a wet one. Water pours down through the rock and one should wear a raincoat to stay dry. Bas is properly prepared and puts on his raincoat…I’m not that well prepared so I get a cold refreshing shower walking down the tunnel…Oh well, my shirt was soaked anyway by sweat. The following tunnels are however quite dry. After the last tunnel we arrive at a small hut. It’s also a place where a 4WD truck can get to and most people that do this walk are dropped here and descent the route we just came up. Since my muscles keep cramping up I sort of hoped there would be a 4WD taxi there but ofcourse, there isn’t… There should however also be an other (very steep) route down. We look for it but there are no clear signs here. In the booklet (and in the memory of Bas) the entrance of the route is described. Nowadays however it’s behind a proper fence. We can only guess why the route isn’t signposted anymore (maybe it’s blocked by a landslide or just too steep, who knows). Since we do not have an alternative we fill our flasks with water from the stream, climb the fence and start our decent. It is quite steep and the path is covered in loose leaves so again quite slippery at times. Have to grab hold of trees to not slide down the hill. U muscles do not agree all the time so i have to stop once in a while to het the cramp our. Bas seems fit as ever and keeps pushing on (grmblll), I feel like a complete pussy. But after about an hour and a half we reach the main path down. This is much wider and less steep so my muscles can finally relax a bit. In the distance there is a couple walking down also. They have clearly not walked the entire route but probably just been to the first lookout. Maybe they have gone to Los Tilos by car…. When we overtake them we try to get into a conversation with them. Bas first in Spanish but hey appear to be Germans (don’t mention the war…). After some chitchat it appears they have come in a car and they are willing to give us a ride back to Los Sauces. My legmuscles are eternally grateful and I feel a cold beer is in reach! On the way to the parkinglot Bas knows of a nice and secluded spot. It’s a tunnel that takes you to a small canyon with at the end a nice and high waterfall. Very nice indeed and the Germans are delighted…our ride back is in the pocket. In Los Sauces they drop us of at a small squire with a pub and the busstop in sight. First a beer and a look at the bustable I brought. Unfortunately I seemed to have lost it but when we look at the road the bus just passes us….next one in an hour (19.45) so plenty of time for another beer! That one we do not miss and around 20.30 we’re back at the harbour. Bas is having dinner with his girlfriend and I will first take a long and hot shower. After that I walk (slowly) into town for a bite. After an affordable meal I hit the town for some nightlife and some more fluids. When the second drunk Spaniard starts talking to me I decide it’s time to go home… Time to give my legs some R&R. Curious how they will feel tomorrow…

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