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Published: June 19th 2009
2 White Arabesque Towns
Bubion and Capileira, from just above Pampaneira
This village isn´t technically in the Sierra Nevada; the entrance to the National Park is just above it... but for some reason it (or even Las Alpujarras) isn´t a choice on this site?
After Madrid I stopped back in Granada for a night (thanks, Antonia for the room and laundry). While waiting for her to get home, I hiked around town, and had the following for 7.50 euro; a beer with jamon cerrano (ham) and bread, a rioja with bread, egg and roasted red peppers, and a Rioja with a tuna sandwich. She was apologetic about getting home late, and I laughed.
The next morning I hiked to the bus station and found that the next bus to Orgiva was about to leave. I sprinted to the terminal only to encounter a cantankerous bus driver who scoffed at my twenty euro bill, forcing me to run all over the station to find change and making everyone late. Then we were off to Orgiva, a town in Las Alpujarras, and my life was in his hands. He made some wicked turns. In my mind I´d decided not to stay in Orgiva long, and my arrival only strengthened my decision: it
From the rooftops of Capileira
is a touristy traffic jam of a town.
Instead of giving it its due, I hiked up the mountain and along the Poqueira Gorge. At times I stuck to the road and at other times the trails, and both had their advantages and drawbacks. The road rose gently to each of the dotted white towns through a series of switchbacks, but it was dangerous, especially when cars were coming both ways. The trails were safer and provided better scenery but were also were poorly marked and at a 30-40% grade at times. My hamstrings and calves were aching by the end of the day.
I passed Carataunas and Soportujar without more than a photo, and then decided on a quick lunch and coffee in Pampaneira. The town seemed to be pretty well flooded with elderly British tourists and I was glad to move on.
Bubion and Capileira (see photo) are the end of the road and get first dibs at the watershed of snow patches from above. The sound of running water is everywhere in Capileira -- on the far side it is the faint roaring of the river, and every few blocks there are narrow aqueducts
The Gorge Again
The gorge from town
and spring water drinking fountains that are marked ´potable.´ The town clearly has the infrastructure for tourists, but there were virtually none there. The village was basically mine to explore.
The next morning I set out for a hike toward Las Tomas. In my typical fashion, I got lost among a maze of trails (in my defense, they were poorly marked, and branched off in all sorts of directions). There was no danger of getting lost, though, as the river was always visible. After a couple of turnarounds and crawling through ravines came the reward: abandoned houses to explore (see video).
After a few more miles and an abandoned village (its inhabitants built a hydroelectric plant and an ironic scene: clean, renewable energy that destroyed nature´s beauty), the path climbed into the Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada. I walked for a few more miles toward Las Tomas, but a sharp pain in my foot made me turn around. On the way back I ran into a Brit and a Spanish guy who were there scouting the area in order to bring a walking group there on a tour. Oh well; I was there on a good day.
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