– Our Journey to Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla –
It started off with only a few days to go before my Birthday and with knowing that this one was going to be a quarter century celebration; it had to be special.
My girlfriend Maria had taken it upon herself to plan the celebration. She wanted it to be a surprise and advised me to pack for camping, mountain biking, hiking and mountain conditions; all things that I unquestionably love.
We set off Sunday afternoon, two days before my birthday to an undisclosed location, car loaded, bikes strapped down, playlist ready and smiles beaming. We set off… no idea where I am was being taken, where I was staying, only a glimpse of an idea what we were doing, but non-the less a start of a typical adventure indeed.
Two hours into our drive, we started approaching these olive groves and mind you, these groves are as far as you can see over the hilly landscape. We proceeded to drive in this terrain for the next two hours…
I had been asking the whole drive the five W’s but she was not about to cave in. All she had told me was that her parents had taken her here, as a child and I would hopefully love it. We suddenly veered off the autovía (highway) into a small pueblo (town) and started drastically driving down in elevation on a narrow one and a half lane road that followed the river.
She finally spilled the beans; we were heading to Spain’s largest Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla.
Camping in Spain is a much different experience than I am use to in the United States.
In the US, I am able to camp just about anywhere without any amenities, while practicing a Leave No Trace approach. I personally enjoy this freedom.
However in Spain and specifically Sierra de Cazorla camping is very regulated with only designated camping locations permitted. These locations turn camping into Glamping with running hot water, showers, freshly cleaned toilets, barbecue pits, swimming pool, electricity and a bar for breakfast, lunch and dinner…
Not my ideal situation since I love the idea of getting dirty while in the woods, but I can cope.
The Adventure: The Last Day of being 24 Years Old
The most memorable day on our adventure was a 22 km hike that took around 8 hours to complete on the Senderismo de la Cerrada de Elias-Nacimiento del Borosa-Laguna de Valdeazores (try saying that five times fast).
One of Sierra de Cazorla most famous attraction and a must see for anyone that has the legs and time to complete the route.
Upon starting the route you walk along the river on a wide car accessible road before you start dropping into El Puente de Los Caracolillos.
“We have an Apple, Dinosaur Cookies and some Sunflower Seeds; I think we will be fine?”
Once the single track ended, we were half way and were faced with an ultimatum: turn around and go back for lunch or make it to the final lake with what we had…
The journey continued further up into the mountains towards El Central Electrica Del Salto De Los Organos. Good thing we had a typical huge Spanish breakfast of olive oil and bread to hold us over…
We also ran into some of the locals. They were more than happy to let us take a picture.
The Final Stretch – Saved The Best For Last: Jurassic Park!
I had pre-downloaded topo maps of the area we were staying and adventuring to ensure we did not become lost and stayed on course.
While navigating up these beautiful water falls and cliff lines, I did not understand where the trail was headed.
My maps showed that we would practically climb a water fall. But with that waterfall being 100 feet tall (pictured above), I knew we would not be able to climb it safely.
Pictured next was quite amazing how we emerged to the top and continued our way to our final destination: Laguna de Aguas Negras.
We enjoyed a nice long break in the sun a top a rock at the lake while cautiously rationed our apple. Hands down the most delicious, juicy Fuji I ever did bite into.
Dreaming of what awaited, we set our sights back to the car where cold beer and a well-deserved dinner awaited.