Sheeps, sore feet and dreams of kebab – that’s what I remembered the most from my trip to Vereda de la Estrella, one of the most popular trails in Sierra Nevada mountains. I walked 33 km with 1300 m of denivelation this day and my plans were even more ambitious.
Vereda de la Estrella is about 10 km trail leading parallel to Genil river on the north side of Sierra Nevada mountain range. My guidebook says, that on the end of the trail there’s a waterfall and the most spectacular landscape of Sierra Nevada – north walls of Mulhacén and La Alcazaba. It also says, it’s a must for all trekkers in Sierra Nevada, so I decided to see it :)
The best starting point to hike Vereda de la Estrella is village Güéjar Sierra but I didn’t find there any cheap accommodation. I found it in Quéntar and the price was so low, I decided to book it, although it meant about 20 km of walk more. I like long hikes ;)
I went out early, just after sunrise. First kilometres were a bit scary because of dogs. One of them was standing and barking at open gate to a farm. I didn’t see and hear anyone at this possession so I decided to return and walk a bit longer road. I think probably it wouldn’t cross the property area, although it was open, but who knows? I didn’t want to risk. Further I was hearing more dogs barking in nearby farms and I was looking around hoping everything is closed. If it had been in Poland, I would have been feeling safer, having pepper spray, but one cannot take it on a plane.
I felt safer when I went higher, outside area with properties. It was nice road leading through an orchard.
A bit higher there’s pretty landscape with Quéntar and surrounding mountains.
Some time later I went to the crossing with a board stating there’s private property. I understood that it’s private right so I went left. It turned out that everything is private there when I came to the gate and saw a board on the other side of this gate. It was written it’s not allowed to come there because it’s private property. I mean, I was walking on private property not knowing about it. I crossed the gate and quickly went further happy, that noone realised me and any dog bite me.
I was glad when finally, after about 2,5 hours of walk, I got to Güéjar Sierra. It wasn’t very pleasant part of trip and I decided, I would not return this way and I would take a bus.
I was planning to eat lunch in Güéjar Sierra, to gain power for rest of a day, but it turned out it wasn’t so easy… During walking on streets I saw only restaurants, a grocery store and cafes. I didn’t want to eat in a restaurant, because you pay there much and eat little. I was looking for some place on lower level than exclusive restaurant. Some bar without waiters and tips but with big dishes and good price. Of course I had chocolate bars and other stuff with me but I like to eat at least one hot dish when I hike whole day.
Lunches were really a problem for me in this part of Spain. Before I came to Quéntar I spent three days in Trevélez. Similar to Quéntar and Güéjar Sierra, there are only grocery stores and restaurants.
I started to dream of some shack with kebab, but having no choice, I went to a restaurant, located between Güéjar Sierra and starting point of Vereda de la Estrella.
The restaurant has been closed yet, but a waiter said they would open in 15 minutes so I decided to wait. I was waiting 40 minutes! Actually, I wanted already to pay for a juice which waiter gave me and to went out, when he finally came to take my order. Then I was waiting for my order, eating, waiting for a bill and in total I wasted there 1,5 h. And I paid 15 euros or so and I knew I would be hungry again for a while.
I was angry I lost so much time because my ambitious plan required only short brakes. To make up time I set in my highest gear and started to almost run.
Vereda de la Estrella didn’t fascinate me. There are some interesting places like this one below, with small bridges.
However, most of the trail it’s just a gorge. I prefer open landscapes, when I can see mountains until the horizon. Here, the landscape is restricted. Mountain in one side, mountain on the other side and that’s all. Even autumn colors didn’t add enough beauty to this place. I mean, I’m not saying it’s unsightly there. It’s nice but I’ve seen better places.
I couldn’t wait to reach the end of the trail when I expected the most beautiful views. Unfortunately, although my fast pace, in some moment I understood I wouldn’t have enough time. My feet started to ache me, I was hungry and I had to slow down a bit.
I decided to reach the nearest crossing, go up to Cortijo Cabańas Viejas and return walking on the path parallel to Vereda de la Estrella but about 300 m higher.
It was 5 pm when I reached the top. I had almost 3 hours to sunset so I thought my time was good.
I liked the landscapes on the top but I had some problem with finding the path, I should go. I knew which direction I should go but I didn’t see any path, only sand and grass. I started to walk around to find the trail when suddenly I saw sheeps about 200 m further. I thought, there should be some path and that was true.
The problem was, sheeps were running on this path and I was afraid they would trample me… or some ram would not like me. So I waited until they went further.
However, it passed few minutes when I heard next herd behind me. Then next and next. They were in groups of dozens, some of them walking, some of them running, sometimes stopping to eat. It was enormous herd! I’ve never seen so much sheeps, I think it was more than thousand. Mainly sheeps but there were also few goats. And what surprised me, was that I didn’t see any shepherd nor dogs. They were alone and they all were walking the same direction. The same as me ;)
At the beginning I was getting out of their way but finally I thought I couldn’t wait forever because I would be late for a bus. The herd was never ending… I started to walk together with them and it turned out my fears where unnecessary. They were afraid of me and getting out of my way ;)
This huge herd of sheeps and observation of their behaviour was my favourite part of trip. Bad news was that because of problems with finding the trail at the beginning and because of waiting for sheeps to move on, I spent about 2 hours for about 4 km. Now I knew my time was not good.
Again I set in my highest gear. The last but one chocolate bar in hand and almost running down the hill. Traces of boars motivated me even more. I didn’t want to be there in a dark.
Darkness came when I was about 3 km to Güéjar Sierra. Darkness wasn’t a problem for me in this place. I had a torch and it was outside of mountains and forest. My trouble was, I was really afraid of being late for last bus. I was sure I didn’t want to return to Quéntar the shortest road which I came. Private area, dogs which maybe would be closed behing a gate or maybe not – never again and for sure not alone at night. Safe way was however longer, about 20 km… I wanted to cry when I thought I would have to walk 20 km more on tough asphalt. My feet ached me so much, I was hungry and tired. I dreamed of ending this trip and eat a big kebab.
Another option was of course to find accommodation in Güéjar Sierra but I didn’t want to spend so much money. I’ve paid already for accommodation in Quéntar and I left there all my clothes and other stuff. When I was sure I was late for last bus I decided to walk this 20 km, trying to thumb a lift meanwhile. However I didn’t have a big hope for a lift because I’ve read in internet that hitchhiking isn’t popular in Spain.
I started to thumb a lift when I got to Güéjar Sierra. To my surprise, only few cars passed and the next stopped. “I need help. Quéntar. Please?” – it was all I was able to say in Spanish. To my next surprise, it turned out, they spoke English well, which isn’t common in Spain. They told they didn’t go to Quéntar but they offered to give me a lift to a bus stop. Before my trip I’ve checked in internet the timetable and I was sure the last bus has already gone. I don’t know if I checked it wrong or there was a mistake in internet but it turned out it was about 10 minutes to the last bus to Granada. I was so happy! In Granada I took another bus to Quéntar and I finished my longest one-day hike.
This is my route. It was one year ago and it’s still my longest one-day hike. But now I’m better in judging my capabilities and I wouldn’t plan so demanding trip :)
PS. Next day morning I was still dreaming of kebab. My plan for this day was to go to my friends, who live close to Seville, so I planned to eat kebab in Granada. It turned out, even in such a big city it’s not so easy! It was Sunday about 11 am when I came there and everything was closed. At about 12 am I came to the most touristy district. It was full of tourists, I even found kebab, but it was closed… Some restaurants were just opening… I was so hungry, I eventually went to a restaurant. And again I paid more than 10 euros and I was still hungry :/ But finally I found it! Small dirty bar with big tasty kebab for 3,5 euro! This is what I liked the most in Granada. After few days of eating in restaurants finally I felt I was really full :)