Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

Walking with Volcanoes – El Teide’s Siete Cañadas Trail


It’s been pointed out to me that I haven’t blogged much in recent days, and it came a surprise  to realize  how long it’s been. That’s because my days, when not teaching or indulging in a “lite” social life, have been consumed by blogging, which made me forget that I hadn’t, you know, actually done any. This, in turn,  is because changes are afoot for this blog, and I’ve been preoccupied prioritizing and working out just how it needs to evolve. I’ve dropped hints before, I know, and also on Facebook, and there are times when I forget that not everyone follows all social media. I’m still keeping it all up my sleeve until it really is on the cusp of changeover,  – soon!

Mount Teide

In the meantime, one of the other things which kept me busy for a few days was a visit from my son, Guy – much in need of sunshine living in England’s drab climate over the last three years. Some great conversations were enjoyed, and good food was consumed – most of which was displayed ad nauseam on Facebook 😉

Guy siete cañadas

We’d intended the highlight of the brief 3 days to be a hike over the greater part of the Siete Cañadas Trail , without putting any pressure on ourselves to catch up with the bus to get back to the car, so then – to walk as far as possible leaving ourselves time to get back before it was dark. This is what we did, but not quite as far a we’d intended.

El Teide at the begining of our walk, framed by a mass of flixweed, which was prolific and added color to a landscape so often lacking in hues other than browns and blues.

El Teide at the begining of our walk, framed by a mass of flixweed, which was prolific and added color to a landscape so often lacking in hues other than browns and blues.When we arrived at the Parador we discovered that the trail was closed until 2pm because they were hunting muflon. Muflon? Sounds like something from Narnia, doesn’t it! Muflon are, in fact, wild sheep. This fact I learned only as a result of this experience. I thought that – if they existed – they were wild goats. Although, according to the Cabildo ‘s web site,  there may be as many as 125 of the critters roaming Tenerife’s mountains I know no-one (and that includes folk who walk most weekends) who has actually seen one. Austin and I did once spot some pretty large droppings on the hillsides above Siete Cañadas, so they might have been there, just ahead of us. Alternatively, there might be giant rabbits living up there, which sounds much more appealing.

Another misapprehension was that they were wild because they had been abandoned by the aboriginal Guanche when Spain conquered the island. But, no, they were introduced to provide “big game hunting” back in the 70s – again, according to the Cabildo (the Provincial Government). At any rate, last Sunday was the day for shooting at them. Supposedly, they are ruining the flora and I suppose robbing indigenous fauna of food. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men! If you want to know about them, here is a link in English to the Cabildo’s information about them.

So, we repaired to the view-point overlooking the crater’s flatlands, not the one all the tourists were staggering up close to the surreal and twisted Roque Cinchado, but the one on the opposite side, where our only companions in the hour or so spent there were a shy German couple.

This was our lunch spot. Not a bad view, eh? There in the background is Alto de Guajara, my "favorite" mountain

This was our lunch spot. Not a bad view, eh? There in the background is Alto de Guajara, my “favorite” mountain

Muflon we may have missed (no shots were heard during lunch) but we did encounter  reptilian thievery in the form of gallotia galloti galloti, this cheeky male lizard, quick as lightning filched a mini empanada from our container. He couldn’t manage to drag it too far, but came back for more! Just as we were going to remove it  (yep – you really, really shouldn’t feed them, and we wouldn’t have done it intentionally!) when an even bigger guy heaved into sight from below, like some minature dinosaur, and snarfed it before I could raise a camera, and all I could do was gasp!

And so we set off at 2 o’clock from the trail which begins by the Parador to do a shortened walk. We made it as far as the junction with the trail which meanders up the flank of Alto de Guajara, with frequent stops to take snaps, or, honestly just to admire and exclaim. Guy and I did a shorter version of this same walk almost exactly a year ago, but the flora weren’t a tenth as abundant or colorful as this year. Another remarkable floral excursion leaves me wondering at the surprises this island has in store.

This is my favorite part of the trail. We were inventing stories about the weird rock shapes. I think of these as petrified spaceships, frozen in another time, but Guy thinks it is the hand of  a god pointing to the skies.

This is my favorite part of the trail. We were inventing stories about the weird rock shapes. I think of these as petrified spaceships, frozen in another time, but Guy thinks it is the hand of a god pointing to the skies.

Guy and me Siete Cañadas

It was a lovely day on a personal level, but also a day of simply stunning beauty. The volcanic landscape of the National Park is so arid for much of the year (and no less majestic for the barrenness), that these few weeks of Spring are something like a wonderland, like the winter snows which never settle in the crater for very long, they are a moment in time, to be seized and enjoyed before it fades. It’s a constantly changing scene, nothing remotely like the more delicate scenery of England. Even though we were only at around 2,000 m there is very much a sense of “being on top of the world,” of somehow reaching out to the heavens.

A water break. The weather was perfect. Sunny but not hot.

A water break. The weather was perfect. Sunny but not hot.

Huge clumps of purple wallflowers grew by the trail.Huge clumps of purple wallflowers grew by the trail.

It’s a kind of ritual, living here, that if you don’t go to the National Park at any other time, then you go twice a year; once to see the first snow of the winter and once to see the tajinaste in flower. I knew that probably there would be some show, although it was a tad early, because of the gorgeous display I’d seen in Vilflor. Vilaflor is a fair bit lower, but three weeks or so had passed. We saw the first by the roadside as we drove up, and there are already several in almost full bloom in the crater now. These plants grow in the wild nowhere else on the planet. They are vibrant, usually swarming with bees – the honey made from their pollen is delicious, and the real harbinger of summer. By the time they are passed, those proud heads dropping and then withering, the island will be enveloped in summer heat.

I snapped this plant on the outward walk, but returning as the sun was dipping its colors seemed more pronounced.

I snapped this plant on the outward walk, but returning as the sun was dipping its colors seemed more pronounced.

As we wound our way down in the early evening, mists shrouded part of our route. Down below, we discovered, those mists had blocked out the sun. We’d risen above them and into the sunshine of the crater,and a different world. And there you have it – again. The astounding variety which has kept me here so long.

Author: IslandMomma

Aging with passion; travelling with curiosity; exploring islandlife, and trying to keep fit and healthy.

17 thoughts on “Walking with Volcanoes – El Teide’s Siete Cañadas Trail

  1. You’re keeping us in such suspense about your blog changes! It will be fun to see what you’ve been up to. What a lovely day with your son. The trail looks awesome — like it might have surprises around every turn. When I saw the word “Muflon”, I thought of sheep, yet had never heard of it before. Lots of great photos here and enjoyed getting a further glimpse into the life of my Tenerife friend.

  2. Gorgeous place to hike made even better with your son. Goodness, how did he get so tall? I’m not sure you’re pulling out legs about Muflon which I’m sure have been seen in Narnia. Hope this new blog comes along quickly.

    • LOL! I am promised they at least were real at one time, even if they may now have disappeared! I think you’d like it Gaelyn. Dimensions not so huge as your neck of the woods, but still fascinating. Lots of history up there too. Thank you for the good wishes and for reading me!

  3. No-one is in more suspense than I, Cathy! It’s largely my own fault, for not focusing. I tend to be here, there & everywhere & must learn to concentrate!

    It’s a great walk, This time really was full of surprises, because I’ve simply never seen such profusion of spring flowers up there before….feel like my awe of this spring is becoming boring!

    Thank you for reading it!

  4. It looks like you enjoyed a good day out with your son. Thank you for sharing this post and those beautiful pictures. I will be in Tenerife next week so I will look out for muflons roaming around! 😉

    • It was a great day, despite the late start. The lizards amused us so much that it took the frustration out of the wait! I knew they were quite “tame” – so many tourists up there now, as you probably know, but I usually give the busier places a wide berth, so they really made me jump and laugh! The weather is glorious at the moment, Davide – hope it stays the same for your trip. May is my favorite month here!

  5. well worth waiting for Linda. nice to ‘walk along with you’ on what was another day for your memory bank. less time with your sons makes any time together more concentrated and special eh? many times when I walk with a friend we go wrong, because there is a diversion or a misreading of the map (both equally guilty) but recently following a walk in the Coniston area the wind blew our map away! we did the finish on auto pilot and were all the more smug for that. ha. often when we go wrong we agree that the wrong bit was the best part of the walk. I know you didn’t go wrong but your day was ‘rearranged’ for you.
    awaiting this new production of yours with baited breath.

  6. Pingback: In Search of the Elusive Guachinche: Island Eating Adventures Part 2 | Islandmomma

  7. I was told the Muflon were brought over by Sr Franco!

    • Interesting, Regina. I linked to the Cabildo’s website because information here is to unreliable, so for confirmation, and now the link doesn’t work *scratching chin* very interesting. I don’t know if Franco returned to Tenerife after the outbreak of the Civil War. It certainly sounds like the sort of thing he might do. A few weeks after this a friend and I ran into a group of hunters having lunch, and asked them and they confirmed the story I’d heard. They also showed us one they’d shot that morning. I can’t remember now if I wrote anything about that encounter. They were surprised when I said I’d ever seen one whilst hiking and told us that there are plenty on the hillsides close to Vilalfor. I even took a snap of the one they’d shot. Though why I don’t know, because it’s kind of too sad to post online IMHO.

  8. I need to come back some time when everything is in bloom. So beautiful!

    • You need to come back at different times for several different reasons actually 🙂 However – for flowers (non-cultivated) then Late April to Early June is the time for sure.

  9. Hi Linda,
    I’m new here and found out about your blog over Twitter (my username is MM_Hiking) and I work in a small publishing house in Germany. Since you’re so knowledgable about Tenerife, I would love for you to have a look at the hiking guide to Tenerife we have– the 3rd edition was released just over a month ago and I traveled to the island to interview the author (but mostly to enjoy a hiking holiday). We didn’t get to see as many plants blooming around the Teide region as your pictures show, but it was gorgeous nonetheless.
    I wrote about the trip on the publisher’s blog, which you can have a look at here:
    The english version of the text begins under the photos.

    Do let me know if you’d be interested in receiving a copy of the guide! We would be thrilled to have a review from a long-time resident of the island. Here is some basic info about the guide:
    Take care!

    • Hi Cara, please excuse the delay in replying to you … I’m traveling the Canary islands at the moment, getting to know the other islands better! I thought your piece was excellent. Would never have known it was written by someone whose first language wasn’t English! … wish my Spanish was so good! I’d love to receive a guide. The trouble is, as I said, that I am traveling at the moment, and I don’t have a permenant address. Perhpas when i know I will be staying somewhere for long enough to receive post? It sounds excellent. Especially like the idea of how the walks are graded, since I’ve had a knee injury over the last few months, it’s made me more aware of this!

      • No problem at all Linda! Nice to hear back from you.
        Yes, do let me know when you have a semi-permanent address and I’ll be happy to send over a copy of the MM Hiking Guide. The setup of the guide is really practical, as you’ve mentioned, for walkers of all ability level. It’s so important to give that information, also regarding altitude and such.
        Nevertheless I hope your knee injury heals up quickly and once you get the guide you can test out some of the trails! I look forward to hearing back from ya.

        All the best

      • Hi there again!
        Are you settled in somewhere and ready for a copy of the hiking guide?! We’d love to have your opinion 🙂
        Hope your knee injury has improved since the last time we spoke.
        All the best,


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