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Chapter 14: Bikepacking the Altravesur-Valdeiglesias to Jayena

30th April 2019

You can see my YouTube on this ride here

Los Caños de la Alcaiceria was the full name of the hotel. Running along side it is the Park Natural de Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama, which is the way forward for the Altravesur route. So perfectly positioned.

There was what seemed to be a restaurant opposite, that I didn’t ever see open, also there was some sort of building, it looked like a mini bullring. Nothing seemed to be going on there. Other than that it was just farmland in the direction from which I came, and forested hills in the direction I’d be going, towards Alhama de Granada.

From my balcony I could see across a meadow, towards woodland, and in the meadow was a small chapel, that I believe the Spanish call an Ermita, it was very pretty, like something out of Kill Bill! The grounds of the hotel had an outbuilding in it, I’m not sure what it was but it was made from stone, and circular, I wondered if its some sort of produce preparation or storage building.

I seemed to be the only guest in the hotel, although during the day from what I’m guessing, the local farmers would come in for meals. The room was big with a balcony. After some food, I washed my clothes, they were covered in dust! I was just hoping they’d be dry by morning. Alas they weren’t, so I decided to stay a second night. I’m easily swayed and was looking forward to some rest and time to publish another video. It’s hard to say how I occupy my time when I’m staying in hostels and hotels, without spending any additional money, but the time flies by. There’s always my clothes to wash, Bay to check over and sometimes wash, video footage to download, devices to charge and the all important task of taking care of my feet. At the end of a day that consists of mainly pushing uphill my feet can feel very sore, so I make sure my toenails are trimmed and give my feet a massage.

The hotel was 10kms outside of Alhama de Granada. The staff were so kind and accommodating, the hotel modern and comfortable. So a big thumbs up for Los Caños de la Alcaiceria. They even let me use the hosepipe to give Bay a good wash.

On the Tuesday morning I was to set-off riding again I had a nice breakfast of tostada and coffee in the restaurant. Before I went back to my room to bring everything down I asked the lovely cook to make me a bocadillo, that I could take with me. I set-off back on the road with my bag of food from the hotel, and not forgetting the frozen bottle of water for my insulated food bag.

The riding was for several kilometres along an extremely dusty camino, through hilly farmland. Luckily I’d brought with me a dust mask that Cassie had given me on my Everest Base Camp trek, it came in handy on that dusty trail, as a few cars sped by me each kicking up a huge dust cloud. Eventually the views became woodland along the Natural Park of Tajeda to my right and rolling hills and farmland to my left.

The dusty trail ends at a junction with a surfaced road. Left takes you to Alhama de GranadaThey guy mapping the route must have stayed at a hostel there as the route went into the town then out again. It was going to be another hot uphill day, I’d have loved to go and checkout the historic town of Alamma de Granada, but didn’t want to have myself over. The fortress town has hot springs said to have been used by the Romans, it has also been the site of a significant battle between the Moslems and the Catholics, with the Catholics gaining control in the late fourteen hundreds. Spain and its people, like most countries, has been through much turmoil and brutality, with battles, wars and governments overthrown. Spanish history is worth a read if you have a lot of time to spare! This town was mostly destroyed by the earthquake that flattened Ventas de Zafaraya. In 1884.

I turned right to cut out that loop, over the Rio Alhama, which has a pretty weir and lake.

There’s a while on the surfaced road then a left turn onto a red-soil camino, through olive grove after olive grove! I had a bit of an incident, I’d rested for lunch, and walked into the bush to do a wee but there was a cloud of mozzies so I moved forward a little, not realising I was now in view of the camino, when the only car I’d seen for hours came along. In my panic I pulled up my shorts while still weeing… was a bit messy, and soggy for a while!! Lesson learned, stop weeing, don’t panic!

I passed through a small pueblo, Arena del Rey, stopping at a very run down supermarket to buy an ice-cream. There obviously wasn’t much trade here, the lady had no lights on, no refrigerated drinks and just a chest freezer with opened multi-packs of two different ice-creams, I took a Cornetto type one, but found it to be stale so gave it to a stray dog, who quite enjoyed it!

Back onto the camino, there was a lot of uphill with very little downhill at all. The land is punctuated with small farms, then come the horrid gigantic plastic tents, where our out-of-season vegetables are grown. I was struggling in this area, no phone signal and my phone lost the Altravesur route, so when I got to a five way junction I had no idea of where to go.

It was another day of blazing sunshine, I was hot and bothered, and couldn’t determine the right way to go. I spent around an hour and a half riding up and down the various options. Eventually I went back the way I came until I got a phone signal and the Altravesur route came back. I could see that the first option I’d decided upon, a river crossing, was in fact the right way to go. I felt a bit silly as I’d been up and down this road around three times, and each time passing the same farmer!!

I walked through the shallow river then sat in the shade and ate my bocadillo, I also found some oranges in the bag, how kind of the lovely cook at the hotel. I took the opportunity to cool down as well as to filter some water from the river I'd just crossed.

Onwards, and kilometer after kilometer of what felt like mainly uphill with little shade. The camino runs through what is now a nicely manicured industrial tourist spot. It used to be the site of a Resinera, somewhere that processes the resin collected from pine trees. Unfortunately due to an act of arson, the industry was destroyed in the Sierra de Almihara in the mid 1970s.

I crossed a couple more rivers, I hadn’t bothered taking my shoes off as it was so hot, I thought they’d act as a bit of a heatsink! The rivers seem to be fish preservation areas, well I'm guessing that's what the signs meant?

I could occasionally see a snowcapped mountain in the distance, which quite excited me as it meant I was getting closer and closer to the Sierra Nevada now, and hadn’t really thought about the fact that that’s the high country which means the climbs will get so much bigger.

The route went up and down up and down, it felt like I had been going uphill all day, but as I was at a thousand metres at the hotel, and now I hit a plateau at eleven hundred metres, it must have been nearly a down for every up, which I find much harder than an epic descent and an epic climb. There was a reasonably sized airplane landing strip, used when the resinera was active I guess, on this plateau to my left, and woodland to my right.

This was the first day of riding I hadn’t enjoyed, perhaps it was the blazing sun combined with riding for tent hours, or perhaps the now boring olive groves, or even the many times I had been lost that day! I don’t know, perhaps I was just a little under the weather as it were, I was certainly tired and again suffering from mild sunstroke or heat exhaustion, whatever you want to call it.

I decided to call it a day around 7pm’ish, I’d covered a distance of around 30 kilometers, but probably ridden 40, as I’d been so lost at the river crossing. I setup camp in the woodland to my right. It was a great spot, well hidden, and no wind! I was so glad there was no wind. The sun was going down but at times still filtering through the trees, I was trying to dry my sodden shoes and socks, as well as getting some solar power to charge my devices. With the sun moving so much I was constantly moving the stuff to get the best sunlight on them.

I realise now, with hindsight, that again I was suffering from a heat related illness. I seem to suffer from this quite easily, and can say that I probably spent at least three quarters of my time on the route suffering from varying degrees of it.

I was a little worried that there could be wild boar around, so I surrounded my tent with fallen dead branches, at least I’d hear it coming!

As darkness fell, I nearly shit myself! Very close to my tent I could hear a noise, it was like a cross between a loud cough and a bark, this went on for some time. I’d no idea what it was, with a little 4G signal I Googled it, and found that deer make a coughing sound, that was a relief!


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