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Chapter 14: Bikepacking the Altravesur-Valdeiglesias to Jayena

30th April 2019

You can see my YouTube on this ride here

I spent two nights in the hotel Los Canos de la Alcaiceria, 10kms outside of Alhama de Granada. The hotel seemed to have a busy restaurant, mostly old men! I think it must have catered for the local farmers. And perhaps the odd coach party. The staff were friendly and helpful, the hotel modern and comfortable. So thumbs up for Los Canos de la Alcaiceria!

There was a restaurant opposite, that never seemed to 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 hills in the direction I’d be going. Over the hills is Alhama de Granada, a town that is visited by the Altravesur route but I decided to by-pass it as I had no need to go into a town.

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!

I set-off back on the road Tuesday morning, with a bocadillo that the lady at the hotel had made me, kindly she’d also put some oranges in the bag too, which were most welcome in the days heat! How sweet of her.

The riding was for several kilometres along a 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. 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 and for a while it’s a surfaced road, I didn’t go into Alhama de Granada, the guy that mapped the Altravesur must have stayed at a hostel there as the route went in then out again. 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 and 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 crossed the river and sat and ate the rest of my bocadillo and cooled down also taking the opportunity to filter some water.

Onwards, and kilometer after kilometer of mainly uphill with little shade. The camino runs through some sort of tourist spot, I'm not really sure what it was,

Punto De Información La Resinera, something to do with the resin from the local pine trees of the Sierra de Tejeda.

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 can occasionally see a snowcapped mountain on this route, I think it was Cerro de Caballo, it came and went. I was getting closer and close 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 higher now.

This route went up and up, eventually I got to a plateau on one of the hills at around 900 metres. It was as though the top of the mountain had been cut off! There was some sort of aircraft testing facility or landing strip, I'm not sure which, 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 the constant uphill for around 8 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.

I decided to call it a day around 7pm’ish, camping 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 a 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 heatstroke. I seem to suffer from this quite easily, and can say that I probably spent at least three quarter of my time on the route suffering from a 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! 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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