Canary Islands: On Hold Until Further Notice

Well shoot, in case you were wondering, things didn’t go according to plan after landing in Tenerife, loose though the plan was. I made it about a half days walk spread over two nights on the GR131 before calling it quits on account of my foot injury acting up again. With bigger, foot-important plans coming this summer, I decided not to risk further damage and have been on a hiking hiatus ever since.

Lame? Yes, definitely. But if you’re going to be stranded for 18 days anywhere with no responsibilities or commitments whatsoever, one could do a lot worse than the Canaries. Some might even call this a vacation!

Not hiking. It could be worse.

I’ve spent my time we’ll, traveling all over Tenerife, living out of my rented steed, parking at a new home every night. There has been a lot of beach time, and a lot of reading-in-the-car-while-it-pours time. I’ve even woken up to a thick frost after sleeping at 7,500ft during an uncalled for cold snap. But as my relaxation accumulates to dangerous levels, I have come to realize how fortunate I am to have stumbled upon a forced mental cleansing. I would never plan on doing so little given this amount of free time, but, marooned on an island in the Atlantic, I have no choice. And while on a daily basis I’m still squelching out nascent musings of spending my remaining days back on the trail in hopes of salvaging some fragment of perceived achievement, I know that I’m doing myself a whole lot of good by keeping my butt planted in the sand and my mind unburdened by the paraphernalia of modern-day responsibilities. Mind and foot, getting better everyday.

A sunrise shot of Pico del Teide on a frosty morning. Brrrrr.

As for the injury, I have heard not peep nor squawk for a few days now. As I expect it is merely a mild sprain, I feel confident that it will not bother me again. This makes sitting around not hiking all the more difficult, but to be honest, I’m spooked. I’ve never experienced an injury that kept me from the trail before, though I saw many a PCTer disappear with pains of their own. It sucks, I know this now, even with the stakes relatively much lower. I’m being extra cautious. Don’t want this flaring up when I’m deeper into something bigger.

So that’s what’s up. I’m not hiking any of the GR131 or GR132. Those will have to wait until next time. However, despite them being chosen on a whim, I have seen enough to know that they will remain perched high on my list. After having explored the wild and rugged terrain, breathed both the sea and mountain air, and admired the brooding silhouette of La Gomera on the horizon, all while being unable to fully take advantage, my desire to hike these islands has taken hold in a manner that time alone won’t undo. No, it will take steps. Lots of them, one after another, for days.

Plus, the local bananas here taste like pineapple. I promise. Or maybe it’s just the flavor of relaxation…

C’mon, you know you want to hike here.

Bonus: Below is the one post I did write before circumstances changed this from a hiking trip into a road trip. It’s been written, so I may as well release it into the wild.

GR131 Tenerife Day 1: Los Cristianos to Above Los Cristianos

Miles hiked: ?
Total miles: ?
Empty bottles rescued from trash: 3

The next phase has begun and I am more uncertain about the next few weeks than I have ever been about a trip, for leisure or hiking. That’s exciting, I guess. Let’s see just how much adventure I have left in my heart and foot.

My three days spent with Gryllz in Barcelona were not rest days at all. We walked all over that town a few times over and spent almost all of the long days on our feet. My foot injury was tested in ways I should have avoided entirely, but a combination of ace bandage and generous doses of Spanish Vitamin I seemed to provoke an improvement despite the abuse. However, I still have large reservations about pumping out big miles until the issue has fully resolved, so I’ll play it by ear and do only as much as my body will allow.

So here I am, on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. As a travel day, I didn’t get much hiking done. Just enough to get out of town before setting up camp.

A fellow passenger’s urgent medical need on the flight from Barcelona added a couple hours to the journey with a lovely stop in Sevilla for an evac. This torpedoed my plans to get good miles in so it left me off the hook to wander rather than hike. I was happy to do just that, enjoying the new environment and sussing out the vibe. As expected, so far it feels a lot like Hawaii, filled with Germans instead of Americans. Warm, humid weather. Gorgeous beaches and ocean. Not a single reason to rush.

After the bus dropped me and a billion other tourists off in Los Cristianos, I made my way to the beach where I changed back into my clean-ish hiking ensemble. I then foraged in the garbage for new-to-me water bottles before hitting the ‘trail’ across the island. My map and the internet show a route here, but there was no indication it existed as I toured along the coast, in between beaches and vast resorts on a wide stone promenade. I ate an entire baguette, tub of hummus, and bag of kale along the way, which combined with my rainbow pinwheel to generate a fair number of stares and smiles.

Not your typical trailhead.

Watching the sun slowly glide towards the horizon behind spectacular clouds was beautiful, but I needed to get out of town and quick if I wanted a chance to find camp under natural light. The map showed me the way from the coast, over the highway, then steeply up through suburbs and banana plantations. The sun was well down and I was a dripping mess by the time I found a concrete platform next to the road to camp on. There’s a little bit of dog poop, but that only makes things a tiny bit smellier than usual.

Sunset behind rain showers marching across the horizon.

The clouds cleared out so I’m staring at stars while I brush away the occasional mosquito

*this is where I fell asleep*

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