Thursday, 14 June 2007

Getting it all together

Planning for the trip had needed careful thought about the route, distance we could manage each day, considering the terrain, altitude and likely weather. One of the most important issues when walking in southern Spain is the lack of water, even in June. We already knew that we would have to carry all of our food, but should we also carry a tent or just bivvi - after all this was mid summer in hot dry Spain! Previously when trekking in the Sierra Nevada, we had experience of both bivving and camping. However those who had been with us on earlier trips convinced us that the extra weight of a tent was worth it for a better nights sleep.

In addition to the tent, sleeping bags and mats, other vital gear included our pocket rocket stove (ideal for 2, but not so good for larger groups) pan, 2 gas cannisters, sterilising tablets for water and first aid kit. These plus our food some evening reading material and a change of clothes meant quite big sacs.

I debated with myself about the need for that 'nice to have' electronic gadgets. We carry a digital camera bought in 2002 and now bigger than many more recent models. We both enjoy peering through our cheap binoculars and I sometimes carry my Garmin GPS, but this too is quite heavy and bulky. In the end we went for the camera and GPS - the latter just in case, and anyway I quite enjoy playing with it!

Last but by no means least, a map. over the past 5 years I have collected just about every map available of the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra. None are very good or very accurate, but my personal preference remains those produced by Editorial Penibetica, we used the latest 1:40000 of the Sierra Nevada published in 2005 which comes with a brief guide to the area and GPS data in English and Spanish. It can be obtained by post from Maps Worldwide.

The final elelement of our planning involved getting to the start! Our mountain finca on the slopes of Caballo above Lanjaron is some 60 km away from the proposed start point of Puerto de la Ragua. We thought about using public transport, but after a brief visit over the winter, realised that this would prove more difficult that we had first thought. Although there is a road over the mountains linking Laroles in the Alpujarra with la Ragua, this more obvious route to the south is time consuming. In the end we decided to opt for an 'informal taxi', a number of which are being offered by British people living in the area, and provding an English language alternative to the local firm (we were not sure we would be able to explain our rather crazy notion to a Spanish driver with our still limited language skills!). To make the arrangements we telephoned Pam from our home in the UK, who had put a notice in one of the shops in Orgiva, but she was busy that day. She suggested a friend called Sharon. Unfortunately when we called Sharon there was no answer - is this going to work we wondered? However 5 minutes later we received a call - did you just ring me the person asked? In fact it was Mike who had rung, and I was thrown just a little. We were wanting a lift to La Ragua I said - do you know where that is? She, somewhat surprised said yes, I've been there once, but it will take a while. After a bit more explaining, the arrangements were made, a price agreed, and there was now no going back!