Hiking to “Poqueira” and “Mulhacen” from cortijos reyfini
It is an August day and silence rules at cortijos reyfini. After a nice cup of coffee we all set off for a long day ahead of us. We drive down from the cortijos towards Capileira and ten minutes later we turn off toward the camino forestall in the village of Portugos. It is a very windy and dusty road. After about twenty minutes we arrive to the carretera forestall. Ironically we get to the T junction where, if we were to turn right, we would drive directly above our cortijos and onto Trevelez (although, due to a landslide, this latter part is cut off) but we turn left which is signposted zona recreativa which is the road towards the big canyon, waterfalls and Capileira. Our friends Geoff and Dee are keen to take photos of the canyon and waterfalls so we stop briefly on the bridge. We then continue for a further 10-15 minutes and continue driving until we reach the half destroyed tarmac road. This is the road which goes from Capiliera to Mulhacen and before UNESCO took over, we could have driven from here by turning right to the peaks of Mulhacen and on to Granada. But this road is now closed and only opened once a year on August 5th for a Christian ceremony held on the peaks of Mulhacen. We turn right here and follow the windy road until we get to the parking area where a chain across the road stops the car from going any further. This is called Area Recreative Hoya del Portillo. We leave our car here and follow a narrow path which is signposted to Refugio Poqueira 9 km. We follow this path through pine forests for about half an hour until suddenly the forested hills give way to open space. This is Poqueira Valley, a vast area of hills and canyons leading to what seems to be a house some 7 kms away. It takes us 2 hours until we get to a road which is signposted left to the refugio and straight on towards the Laguna Caldera. Refugio Poqueira offers beds for those who wish to stay the night but as we are here just for the day we carry on walking until we reach Laguna Caldera half an hour from where we are. The hot summer plus lack of rain and snow during the year has left most of these lakes dry. There’s hardly any water in this lake and the beautiful stone reguio Vivac at 3655 metres is a shelter for groups of wild baby goats escaping the sun behind the curved stone house. Leo (our 16 year old son) opens the door and walks in. Inside there are 2 flat solid beds with a bar, but of course it is empty but clean. This is a free refuge – no booking required unlike the other refugio poqueira. From here we turn round and start hiking towards what seems the hardest climb of the day. The sheer solid rocks facing the sky some 400 metres towards the highest peak in Spain, Mulhacen. As we walk we get close to the sheer edge of the mountains, suddenly 1000s of feet below you see Granada and just below another Lak” Mosca” and in the distance the second largest peak, Veleta (3394 M) and other high peaks , majestically facing the sky. We reach the peaks of Mulhacen (3483 m) passing several groups of wild goats led by “machos” the male native goat with big horns. From the peaks of Mulhacen feeling exhausted we stroll downwards towards Hoya Del Portillo where our car is waiting for us. It is now 4 pm and we leave “siete lagunas” to our left leaving it for another day and head towards the dusty road on top where the tourist bus is waiting for its passengers. During the summer months this bus comes here having collected passengers from Capiliera. We pass the bus feeling exhausted and cut across the mountain towards the path we took in the morning. We pass several small springs, horses, cows and the occasional shepherd on horseback with his dogs. It is now 6 pm as we reach Hoya Del Portillo and drive down to Capileira where we sit in the beautiful garden of Poqueira hotel and finish the day with a well deserved ice cold beer and tapas, served by our old friends Pepe and Paco.
Mo Fini and Lucy davies (August 25th. 2012)