Today we did something we've been talking about doing for weeks. We climbed to the top of La Concha! - the highest peak in the Sierra Blanca range, and the mountain that so kindly gives Marbella its special micro climate. The mountain is 1,200 metres high! We see her each day from our terrace and often say "we must go up there one day". Well, today was that day. Prepared with small rucksacks with water, freshly made cheese and bacon toasted sandwiches and flasks of hot chocolate and milky coffee, we set-off. To get there, we chose to drive to Refugio de Juanar, and took
the leisurely walk through the valley towards the mountain. Then, things kind of got a little more challenging! In the valley, we shared the wide path with families and other casual walkers. Then as we got closer to the forest, we were just left with the real "outdoorsy" types; by the time we started the climb, the few people we met along the way looked like serious hikers. They were equipped with all the right footwear, thick blister resistant socks, telescopic walking sticks, binoculars, and lightweight rucksacks. At this point we should have realised that the we should have substituted an extra litre of water for the huge flask of strong, sugary cafe con leche!
The weather however was perfect for amateur mountain climbing! 22 degrees, sunny with no wind and we felt energetic and alive. We left the noise of the farmers pruning and tidying their olive trees in the valley, and enjoyed the sound of just birds singing in the trees that created dappled sunlight in the pine forests. Soon the pine trees fell away to reveal the rocky mountain with just alpines, grasses and a few palms.
The views were amazing, right across to Gibraltar and beyond in the west and Fuengirola and Mijas Pueblo in the East. At this height one sees that really, for a series of cities and towns that are home to hundreds of thousands of people, the Costa de Sol appears actually very green and not as over-developed as critics might suggest. Its sounds crazy, but in perspective with other urban areas, its really is quite green – and of course 10 minutes drive from mountains! There are just pockets along the coast that define the holiday resorts, business centres and homes.
After 2 hours the hike really felt like a challenge – the path is non existent for the last 30 minutes – one just climbs over rocks. Exciting, but scary at times! We clambered across the ridge in the pic below!
Yet, it is so worth it – the feeling of achievement upon reaching the small summit was great! (Sadly Rafa photographed me on the summit with his phone looking like hell..)
I was kept going by the thought of my toasted sandwiches! Despite being wrapped in foil and being bashed about in my rucksack for 3 hours they tasted incredible! I was so happy to be sitting down, boots off, soaking up the sun.
The return journey seemed to last for ever, but afforded views of the Sierra Bermeja range to the west, Sierra de las Nieves in the north, and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada, in the east.
Eventually we made it back, six and half hours later to the car, and drove the few hundred metres to the Hotel Refugio de Juanar and had the best tasting Coke with lots of ice that I have tasted in ages!
I thought I was well prepared for our adventure – my trusty wet wipes, napkins, water, food and chocolate – even bug spray. But I forgot one very important thing here on the coast – factor 25! My face and neck now make me look like a true Brit on the Costa – lobster red!
For more pictures of the Sierra Blanca click here.