Spain
Segura de la Sierra

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    • Day 73

      La Platera: La Laguna

      May 21, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 64 °F

      We woke up this morning to drops of rain on the plants in the arbor, small puddles on the flagstones, and thick fog hiding the surrounding hills, but now, after a day of sunshine, everything is dried up again.

      Earlier this week, while combing through maps and tracks along the southern shore of the sprawling Embalse del Tranco that lies just below us, I kept finding references to a small lagoon. Pedro also mentioned this yesterday, saying that it was a source of salt, and that nearby was a particularly beautiful era whose floor was made with stones of various colors. This all sounded very intriguing, so we set out to explore that area this morning as soon as the fog lifted. When we reached the next aldea, El Carrascal, a dog followed us out of the village. We tried our hardest to get him to turn around and go home, but he insisted on staying with us throughout the entire day. It’s a good thing we were making a loop trip, or he would have ended up very far from home and very thirsty. The road along the edge of the embalse gave us colorful views, not only of the water, but also of forest glades followed by old olive groves with trees with very thick trunks. We found the lagoon, but were so distracted by our worries about the dog that we forgot to look for the era with the colored stones. On the way home, we decided to take a route for which we had no GPX track, but the trail showed clearly on the IGN map of Spain. It’s always a bit worrisome not to have a track to follow, but after a few wrong turns, we made it to an overlook with tremendous views of the entire area and felt quite happy that our adventure had turned out so well. In addition, our canine friend is now back in his home village. Whew!

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/la-plater…
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    • Day 62

      Moralejos: Los Riscos

      May 10, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

      The cliffs and crags (riscos) above Moralejos are striking. They are reachable by a detour off the GR 247, and contain ruins dating from Roman times. As we climbed up to them today, I kept a running total in my head of how many spots were precarious enough on the way up that I needed Ned’s help to get across them, knowing that they would seem even more difficult on the way down. When I got up to four, I prudently decided that was my limit. Ned went another quarter of a kilometer with another 100 meters of altitude gain (yup, it was steep!) and was able to clearly see the birds of prey that nest here (los buitres) soaring overhead. By continuing on the GR, we were able to find a very comfortable way down with some great views of Yelmo and no precipitous drop-offs.

      Talking with Beatriz this afternoon, it turns out she is the sole year-round resident of Moralejos! The shepherd we saw yesterday comes just for the day; he lives elsewhere. So Moralejos joins La Hueta and Linarejos as villages we have been to on this trip that have a population of one.

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/moralejos…
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    • Day 63

      Moralejos: Río Trujala

      May 11, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 73 °F

      We had a nice Wikiloc track picked out that would take us on a loop walk up the Río Trujala and back by a forestry track today, but shortly after we left Moralejos, it became very overgrown. By the time we crossed the river (it’s pretty narrow, but we should be glad it’s running at all!), we realized it was useless to try to continue. We had noticed some electrical towers nearby and thought if we followed them, it might make a nice second choice. What luck! They led us up high above the river through glades full of flowers, and then to a walker’s equivalent of a superhighway: a wide, smooth forest track, complete with some of the original kilometer markers. Eventually this joined the GR 247 stage that we are going to walk tomorrow when we move on to Hotel Río Madera. I was especially glad to get a preview of that stage today, even in the opposite direction, since I have been worrying that it might be too precarious for me. My fears were totally unnecessary. It is steep, but it’s not at the edge of a cliff, and there is nothing precarious about it.

      Just before getting back to Moralejos, we had a first on this trip: meeting other walkers with overnight packs! A friendly Dutch couple who are doing the same thing we are - staying several nights in a village and making loop walks before moving on - stopped and chatted with us about the area.

      This afternoon we toured all of Beatriz’ buildings here. She has done a lot of work to make them comfortable. We ended up with a taste test comparing gazpacho and salmorejo. Thanks, Beatriz!

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/moralejos…
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    • Day 61

      Segura de la Sierra to Moralejos

      May 9, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 79 °F

      The aldea of Moralejos is tiny. I forgot to ask Beatriz, the owner of the house we are staying in, what the actual population is, but we’ve seen only two people since we arrived. Beatriz lives upstairs and we have the downstairs of a large stone house that looks delightfully old and sturdy. We are staying here three days so we can explore the remains of the original Segura settlement in the cliffs above us. Unlike Puente Honda, La Hueta, and Linarejos, there is no central square or gathering place here, but we did see the remains of an era on the way in.

      We carried in three days worth of food, but we could have left most of it behind because Beatriz has left us eggs from her chickens, tomatoes, potatoes, and mandarins, as well as an array of bakery delights.

      The walk to get here was all along small paved roads. We wanted traffic to see us well ahead of time, so we carefully arranged our orange jackets in the mesh pockets of our packs with the arms dangling down to wave in the breeze. But it turned out to be totally unnecessary; only four cars passed us the entire morning. I’d say this part of the Sierra de Segura is not heavily traveled!

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/segura-de…
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    • Day 59

      Segura de la Sierra: Gontar loop

      May 7, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

      Our loop around Cerro de Gontar turned up some heartwarming surprises today. To start, although the peak of Peñalta had dominated our views from Puente Honda and La Hueta, we had never expected to see it again on this trip. So coming around the shoulder of a ridge on the GR 247 this morning and seeing Peñalta pop up felt like greeting an old friend. Not only that, we could also make out the line of the route we had walked from La Hueta to Orcera. Around the next corner was an even more unexpected surprise. We were looking down on the roofs of a tiny aldea, speculating on what it might be, when Ned recognized the terracing in front of the houses. “That’s Linarejos!” We were now far above it, looking down on the scene we had climbed up to from Orcera last Wednesday. It’s Ned’s favorite village so far, so it was a real thrill to see it again and to even hear its two resident dogs barking.

      The third surprise of the morning was coming across another pozo de nieve like the one below the castle. I had really hoped to see one for the first time on this trip, and now I’ve seen two in two days. They were used to store snow during the winter that would then provide ice during the summer. Inside the well, the snow was stored in compacted layers separated with straw. When the well was full, a covering was sealed to maintain the interior temperature. When summer arrived, the well was opened and the ice was cut into blocks to be sold. The one below the castle looks to be about 20 feet deep, so that’s a lot of ice!

      Speaking of snow and ice, we had a brief rain shower about 8:30 last night. It lasted for less than an hour, but was enough to make the trail smell damp this morning. This is the third tiny bit of rain in ten days after five months of no rain.

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/segura-de…
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    • Day 57

      Orcera to Segura de la Sierra

      May 5, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 81 °F

      We knew Segura de la Sierra was perched on a steep slope , but it wasn’t until we walked up here today that we realized that it was a sheer drop in every direction. It wasn’t hard at all walking up, but I bet it is going to be a different story going down! We walked out to a mirador where the drop was so steep it made us nervous to stand by the railings. Too bad the camera can’t capture the sheer nature of the surroundings - it’s quite a sight.

      We got an early start (not wanting to climb 1220 feet/472 meters in the sun); had shade almost the entire way; and even saw some unusual wildlife: a lizard and a big flock of doves. The views back to Orcera were great - it kept getting smaller and smaller as Segura got larger and larger. And we finally found out the name of the big peak we’ve been seeing all week: Yelmo. Our trail out of this area goes right by it.

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/orcera-se…
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    • Day 58

      Segura de la Sierra: The castle

      May 6, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 77 °F

      We were pure tourists today, walking up to the castle that towers over the town and seeing the sights associated with it: the Arab baths, the workshops from the Middle Ages, the pozo de nieve (where winter snow was stored for summer use), the chapel for the Order of Santiago, and the bullring. The light was just right for us to get a good look at the 100 meter/300 foot sheer drop on three sides of the mirador we walked out to yesterday. I think you can even make it out in the photo. Ned went up the narrow staircase to the top of the keep while I kept my feet and hands firmly planted on the adarve (the walk around the perimeter walls used by the sentries). The Arabs described the site as being “as inaccessible as an eagle’s nest on a sheer cliff”. I agree.

      Today’s Wikiloc track::
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/segura-de…
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    • Day 74

      La Platera: Collado de Montero

      May 22, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 59 °F

      It’s cloudy today and every once in awhile, there are a few droplets that meander down from the sky, but there isn’t any outpouring of the kind that would nourish plants and animals. The frogs in the local water tank are happy, though.

      Our route today was in the best condition of all the dirt tracks we have walked in the last ten weeks. No ruts, no potholes, no excessive loose stones, no narrow sections - just a wide, well-graded track rising steadily from La Platera to the Collado de Montero. As such, it was a bit of a mystery. We kept asking each other why a track in such perfect condition was here. It didn’t lead anywhere important, so why was it so special that it even merited being here, much less being maintained in such stellar fashion? There was a barrier just beyond the village that could close off the track, but why? Ice or snow in the winter? Fire danger? On the way up it passed access roads into numerous olive groves, most so steep that the prints in the dirt were of tractors with tracks rather than tires. But orchard access wouldn’t account for such a fine track.

      At the pass, we could see lots of signs and thought maybe they would give us a clue. First set: trail markers, no clue. Second set: comunidad boundary markers, no clue. Third set (after another lockable barrier): a big sign with red letters announcing “Danger! Hunting Area”. Not the tame little black and white “coto privado“ signs you usually see. Aha!

      So we are guessing that either the Sociedad de Caza Arroyo Montero maintains the track to this high standard or they have a lot of influence on whatever other entity is responsible for the track. Either way, it provided a great route for us today!

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/la-plater…
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    • Day 75

      La Platera: Hornos el Viejo

      May 23, 2023 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 59 °F

      Today was the first day in 75 days of walking in Andalucia that we had to change course to step around a puddle! It rained all night long and well into the morning, by far the longest-lasting rain we’ve had. Out on our walk, we met two ladies in the neighboring village of Hornos el Viejo who, when we mentioned “mucha lluvia anoche”, went to great lengths to vehemently tell us how good it was that it had rained. I’m guessing they thought we were clueless tourists who didn’t want our walking spoiled and didn’t realize how desperate the residents are for rain.

      The rain brought us some new sights and sounds: snails crossing the road amidst green bursts of moss and an hours-long symphony of birdsong from every turn of the path. In spite of the clouds, we had good views of La Platera from various angles. Our house is just outside the village, set off by itself with a lovely arbor at the back, and of course, the era and the acequia. Like all the cortijos around here, it’s a very large house, built to accommodate multiple generations. I think there are 12 bedrooms in all. These days it is rented out as six separate units ranging from a studio to three bedrooms (but Pedro says we are the only people here since Easter). It’s been a privilege to stay here and soak up the history of a way of life that hardly exists anymore, and with the exclamation point of the rain, quite a fitting last day to our weeks in the Sierra de Segura.

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/la-plater…
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    • Day 72

      Hornos to La Platera

      May 20, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 63 °F

      We have our very own era to admire every time we step out our front door!

      Choosing the tiny aldea of La Platera for our last four days of walking turned out to be a very lucky decision. When Pedro, the owner, opened the door to our casa rural, we noticed right away that the table in the living room was a trillo, a sled-shaped board with pieces of blade-shaped rocks embedded in rows to thresh the wheat. Pedro beckoned to us to follow him, and not ten steps from our front door, he gestured with his arm - and there was an era where the threshing took place. Pedro could tell we were really interested in the history of the place, so he stayed for an hour and a half, telling us that there were a “montón” of people living here when he met his wife here 36 years ago. Now there are two year-round residents left. “Una pena,” he said several times.
      He showed us how the threshing took place with a donkey pulling the trillo around and around over the wheat spread on the era. The era was located in a breezy spot so that after the threshing, if basketfuls of wheat were thrown in the air, the wind would blow away the chaff, allowing the heavier grains of wheat to fall to the ground. The families of the aldea were self-sufficient, he said, growing or raising all their own food. Now, all the young people want to live elsewhere and have paying jobs to buy their food. In an opinion we haven’t heard before, he said the formation of the park accelerated this trend because even if a young person wants to try to make a living here now, it is very difficult to get permission for land use from the park authorities.

      Our walk today took us past the neighboring aldea of Carrascal and by scattered cortijos. We saw olive tree after olive tree with no budding olives and with dying yellow leaves that we assume are showing the effects of heat and drought.

      Today’s Wikiloc track:
      https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/la-plater…
      Read more

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