Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Trail Of The Frozen Pine

It really didn't seem like a good idea to go walking in the mountains on Sunday. After a bitterly cold Saturday in Madrid the forecast for Sunday was for more of the same, and my rucksack was full as we went prepared for all possibilities. The route was from Prádena to Robregordo. Sounds straightforward enough, but Prádena is in Segovia province and Robregordo belongs to Madrid. In between lies the Sierra de Guadarrama, not far from the important northern pass of Somosierra.

We set off in perfect walking conditions, although patches of frozen water gave a hint of how cold it had been during the night. For the second week running we had to follow a different path from that one that was planned because of hunters but it didn't make too much difference. This is Prádena from above.

The first part of the walk took us through an area of juniper trees. As we got a bit higher we hit the snow line and the plants were covered in icy crystals.

In the end I was wearing more clothes than necessary, which is not to say that it was warm but the combination of sunshine, climbing and hardly any wind meant that it was more than bearable. I had no regrets about coming, this was one of these crisp winter days when the clarity of the views is amazing. In one direction you have the Madrid/Segovia frontier, in the other we were looking towards the mountains separating Soria and Guadalajara. This is also the hydrological division between the Duero to the north and the Tajo to the south.

Most striking of all was the sight of the pine trees and how they manage to make it through the tough winter on the sierra. Each pine seems to have its rough, wind battered Segovian side, and a greener, softer Madrileño side.

On the way down to Robregordo we stopped to take a look at a different kind of tree. This is a holly tree, and this area is well known for the species. Much bigger than the holly I remember from the UK, you can walk inside this one. The leaves, when the tree grows higher, are no longer prickly. It seems they grow that way further down as a protective adaptation.

A memorable day in the mountains, and well timed. After a grim and freezing start to the week yesterday and today I imagine that this route would be difficult to do.


Jan said...

Wow! Wow! and Wow! Fantastic photos.

Katie said...

gorgeous hike! your tree photos are fantastic. i was in the sierra on monday and saw the same phenomenon, but it was snowing so i didn't have the nice blue sky/frozen tree contrast.

Graeme said...

Well I admire your endurance if you chose Monday to go to the sierra. I didn't even want to spend time on the streets of Madrid.