Looking for Sean McLachlan? He mostly hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog these days, but feel free to nose around this blog for some fun older posts!

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Friday, 23 May 2008

Hiking the Sierra de Maliciosa

Last weekend a friend and I hiked to the top of La Maliciosa, a mountain in the Sierra de Guadarrama just north of Madrid. At 2,227 meters, it's one of the taller peaks in the range, the tallest being Peñalara at 2,430 meters. That's next.

The parking lot is at 1,630 meters, so getting to the summit is not as impressive as it sounds, but it was still a nice jaunt after being city-bound for all too long. The recent rains (which the poor Catalans haven't shared) made the forest you see to the left a bit squishy, but once we got above that we were treated to a fine display of wildflowers. We even came across a small waterfall.

The greenery disappeared pretty quickly, though, and we continued up some rather grim rocky bits to a peak, then through a small valley under lowering clouds before we made it to the peak.

Cool weather at last! I wouldn't want to do this hike in summer. Since going back the same way we came up would be boring, we decided to traverse a rather nasty scree of unstable rocks with ankle-snapping gaps in between. The rocks were all covered with rough lichen, so hanging on with uncovered hands was not an option for anyone who doesn't do manual labor for a living. It was slow going but good fun, and we got back about five hours after we started. I'm not sure how many miles we did (I wouldn't have made a good Victorian explorer) but it felt great after walking on pavement.

My companion being English, we had to end the hike with a couple of beers, so we headed to a bar in a mountain hotel. The hotel was built in 1940, during the reign of Franco, and so was built in Tyrolean style. Charming anywhere else, rather disturbing given the history.

This hike has whetted my appetite. I need to get back out into the mountains!

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