The island of La Gomera looked at once primeval and enticing, even before we landed.
A few days ago, we hiked through the Garajonay National Park, here on La Gomera, in the Canaries.
The Park straddles the deep interior of the island. It was established to preserve one of the few remaining laurel forests, which had occupied much of Europe and North Africa during the Tertiary Period, stretching from 60 million to 2 million years ago. Such forests are typified by “laurel-like” evergreen trees covered with and surrounded by lush green vegetation. The last ice age removed almost all of these forests from mainland Europe, but the ice didn’t reach this far south. Now, this last remaining example is found on an island just off the arid coast of Saharan Africa. .
We took Bus No. 1 from San Sebastian up to the Pajarito Roundabout, and walked a kilometer to a parking lot where the Contadero trail head leads off the road. From there we started our 9 km hike to Hermigua. It was to be all downhill, so we felt OK about the kids.
The gang at the start of the day, near the bus stop at the Pajarito round-about/traffic circle, on the way to the Contadero trail head.
The wildflowers were beautiful. Here, a Brazilian Button.
A Calla Lilly near a pond.
Geraniums in a private garden by the path.
The vegetation was different than what we’d seen on the other islands. When the trade winds cross La Gomera, the elevation forces the air up, and the moisture out, as the air cools. As can be seen from our clothing, it was relatively dry and warm when we started.
The trees and forest floor and were covered with green growth.
One of several streams that wondered back and forth across the route.
We stopped for a snack at Ermita del Lourdes, and were joined by a number of “Azul Pincons,” or Blue Finches, that are endemic to the Canaries. They readily came after bread that we left about the picnic table. We saw dozens during our short stay, but, although we constantly heard bird chatter, didn’t see another one during the rest of our seven-hour hike.
A water spigot cleverly disguised inside of a tree.
The mist thickened and the temperature cooled as we approached the settlement of El Cedro.
We stopped for lunch at Restarante La Vista, in the fog above El Cedro. As Aylin can attest, the thick potaje soup hit the spot in the damp weather!
From El Cedro, our hiking guide book reported that the trail would drop precipitously. Boy did it ever. We climbed straight down for over an hour.
And then we stepped out of the mist/fog like we were doffing a wet sweater. It was incredibly pronounced, and within a short distance we went from seeing nothing to a clear view of the sea miles away.
Looking back up, a waterfall streamed out of the clouds.
Alexander helped Aylin keep her footing.
A reservoir built across the ravine made a reflecting pool out to the sea.
We made Hermigua at last.
From Hermigua, we caught a different bus, No. 2, which took us back to San Sebastian. It was an excellent hike.