Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The aroma of Maroma


The aroma of Maroma is a pot-pourri of camomile, thyme, angelica and sage - the national park is like a giant herb garden.
Which way do I go, now?
I afford these long trips by being quite frugal – the biggest expenditure is the diesel/gasoleo – this means only using paid-for campsites occasionally and mainly self-catering. However, occasionally I like to treat myself.
I had found a quiet carpark at N36.87472 W4.08255, right in the centre of Canillas de Aceituno, an upmarket tourist (mainly English in my experience) town – very pretty, of Moorish/Mudejar origins and a population of 2242 but very few palm trees, if any. 

There are loads of signboards in the carpark  but nothing about Maroma.
Next to the carpark was a restaurant, La Maroma. When I told the barman I was a ‘vegetarien’ the chef came out to ask me what I wanted. He shook my hand with delight when I said ‘surprise me’. The large plate contained a wealth of diverse taste sensations and the cost was relatively reasonable. You have to drizzle to sizzle. 
Yeah, if you could go in a straight line

Duane Eddy

The secret to finding the way to Maroma is the guitar man next to the town hall at N36.87342 W4.08188. The nearby signpost is misleading as it gives the distance in a straight line – and the route is anything but straight. I walked 23.59km with a total ascent of 2121m.

Off you go then
That yellow line is definitely not straight
Enter the Parque Natural Sierras de Tejeda Almijara y Alhamas at N36.87477 W4.08045 on the Casa de la Nieve path. 
La Rabita

The path is generally quite obvious – at first any any signs are for La Rabita, which turns out to be a limestone spring at N36.88114 W4.06648 (1071m). Nearby there is frog sanctuary – I kid you not. It looks as if there has been a very large forest fire in the last year or so and the vegetation is only just beginning to recover. This may explain why the path gets a bit less defined too for a while as there is so much bare earth. 
Burnt out trees
There is an obvious change of direction northwards at N36.88687 W4.05658 (1293m) and then north-west at a collado at N36.89046 W4.05619 (1338m). It was also around this point that the days clouds started to disappear and I got my first glimpses of the summit ridge – the cloud then rolled back quite quickly and by early afternoon there was just a patch of cloud trapped in the valleys below to the north.

A first glimpse
The path traverses and zigzags up to a significant right turn north-eastwards at N36.89905 W4.06627 (1684m)and then traverses with less zigzagging to a fence corner at N36.90240 W4.05692 (1809m). Not long after this there is a junction N36.90331 W4.05399 (1879m) that I did not spot on the way up – the ‘official’ waymarked path forks to the left, I took the right fork which was now marked by spots of green paint rather than posts to a left turn at N36.90166 W4.04931 (1980m) and then it was a slope of loose stones up to the summit ridge/plateau. 

Trig point for baggers into via ferrata
There are several tops on the plateau – to be sure I visited them all. The first one is marked by a trig point on top of tall tower with rungs up the side – naturally as I ‘had’ to touch the trig I went up the rungs. N36.90270 W4.04555 (2058m at the base of the tower). 
The twin cairns
The next top has twin cairns with a rock to the side at N36.90327 W4.04366 (2064m). What I called the centre top at N36.90408 W4.03832 (2062m) and the east top at N36.90507 W4.03625 (2061m) measured lower – but it would have been a tough call to decide without a GPS. 

The eastern cairn
What was definite is that through the haze I could see the snow capped Sierra Nevada in the distance. And it is the 11th most prominent mountain in mainland Spain with a prominence of P1230.
For the descent, almost in error, I found the ‘official’ path that started going down northwards, initially I thought I was on the wrong path and would end up in El Robledal if I continued with it. However, I stayed on it, thinking I could traverse around the hill at a lower point and then spotting that the posts were on the traverse line I had chosen. Hence, the path makes a 90% turn left at N36.90609 W4.04801 (1984m) and drops down to the ruins of the Casa de la Nieve (snow-house) at N36.90557 W4.05119 (1962m). From there it was down to the junction I had missed on the way up and reversing the ascent route in the heat of the sun.
Casa de la Nieve

Overnight in Canillos de Aceituno and the following day a pleasant drive around the back of the Sierra de Tejeda, over the border into Granada province and bypassing Granada city to have a look at the Hoya de la Mora carpark 2506m high up in the Sierra Nevada and then dropping back down to a mere 1405m high El Purche **rated and empty campsite for an afternoon swim in the piscina. 


Maroma from the north

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