Never trust a guide book. Am I lost yet

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
camping tajo rodillo

Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 1

Caught an early morning bus from Zahara back to Ronda and had a few hours to kill before the bus to Grazalema so headed to the internet place had visited earlier. realised that I had managed to leave my card reader cable on the bus when I had been looking at what my different SD cards had on them so headed back to bus station. Unfortunately the guys on at the bus company werent particulary friendly and I had no real way of explaining that I want to get back on the bus to look for the cable. Another thing I've lost. In the end bought a card reader from an electronic shop on my way back to the internet place.

After arriving in Grazalema, had a 2km walk uphill to he camping ground. Nice mountains, nice view from campground. Still a while til t gets dark so decided to do the loop walk suggested in my hiking book.

Headed along a trail up to he nearby mountain which I think is the tallest one you can get to without a special permit. At this point it was getting late and while I could see where I had to go to complete the circuit from the mountain top (easy enough to navigate) it took me further from the campsite before looping back. Decided to head back the same way I came instead since the view from the mountain was the main thing I was interested in. Ended up seeing a few deer on the trail on my way back.


Sort of reached the opinion that while guide books (lonely planet) are good for ideas you need to be very careful about trusting what they say to much. Not sure if they have gotten worse or whether I was just lucky on my previous trip but I'm sure that the last time I travelled the books hardly ever led me astray wereas this trip it seems quite regular. Not sure if its the writers, fact checkers or just the fact that LP seems to release new editions of the books without really updating or doing much research into whether the facts in there books are correct. Always interesting to read in a book relised this year that something was closed for renovation at time of writing and should be open by late 2008.

Anyways, almost spent a night in the woods, or at least in a nearby town away from my campsite due to errors and lack of detail in the hiking book. The guide book said lots of trails werent on the map they suggested as being the most useful though I found another map publisher that seemed to have a fairly extensive selection of trails on it, though not the one mentioned in LP. Knew I should not have trusted the trail notes when the trail was not on the map but the constant yellow markers on the trail gave me a false sense of confidence.

First part of the trail from near the camp ground to Calbo De Salto was clear and had the occassional marker. It also had parts fenced off since it passed by a house and the owners private property. Seems like lots of NP have people owning large chunks of them. interesting looking farm build and lots of goats around the place. Even some mothers with newly born kids.

Also had some nice views of the valley and nearby mountain which I had hoped to walk up. Unfortunately could not get the permit since the visitor center in Zahara where I had hoped to get it never opened the whole time I was there.

Had a nice walk and after about 3hrs reached Calbo se Salto. Best described as a small gorge. Saw some of the local cattle along the way with their big nasty looking horns which I made sure to give a wide berth. At the gorge, spent some time watching the eagles flying over head as they came out onto the wind drafts running through the gorge. At this point there was still a trail to the next town which appeared in the trail notes. Followed this along, passing a number of goat herds, until I reached the town.

At this point I had a choice. Head back or continue the loop. Never like going back if I dont have to so decided to at least see what the trail described in the book was like. While over grown and lots of animal tracks made it unclear in places, there were lots of yellow markers to help find the way. At least for the first couple of hours. As I said earlier, the constant yellow markers gave me a false sense of confidence in being able to follow the trail since a trail had certainly existed at some point in time and for all I knew still did exist.

Made sure to keep track of my path on the map. Thankfully not to hard given that I was following/crossing creeks and walking around hills that were clearly identifiable on my map. All OK for the first couple of hours (with the exception that the times for reaching landmarks required a brisk pace which given the unclarity of the trail was not possible) even saw some boar along the way.

Not so OK once I reached the point where I had to go through a gate to reach public property. Unlike the previous private property I had crossed through where there was sign saying the path crosses private property, there was also a sign saying that the land was private property and under the top of the gate and bottom were a whole bunch of branches to block the way. Guess things have changed since the trail description was originally written. If I had to guess, I would say the owner removed access by the trail through his property which is probably why it wasnt on my map. First edition of LP was 1996 and thats probably the last time that trail access was verified.

Had a choice, though not really. 5-6 hrs of daylight left. 2 hrs back to previous town (where I could find hostel to spend the night if needed) + at least 4 hrs to get from there to the csmpsite or trust the guide and cross the public property to make it back in just over 2 hrs.

Decided to mave the branches out of the way, squeeze through and replace the branches. Managed to find a couple of markers but was basically walking through a kind of pddic that was completely over grown and had dozens of animals trails crossing the place. Also if the trail is no longer being used then its less likely that any of the visible trails are the ones I needed to take. Book said head up the valley to the north east after about 300m. More than one valley and not clear where to hed up or even if heading in right direction. Followed a creek for a while looking for more markers but after an hour or so gave up. Only option was to head back or try looking again.

Managed to find an extra marker on the ground again but decided I wasnt going to find the trail. If I had more time I guess I would of tried heading further up along the creek to see if I could find a trail. Basically there wqas suppose to be a ruined building within a couple of Kms of where I was, or at least thought I was, and I knew there was another trail (marked on the map) that ran past it. the description in the book suggested that the trail near the ruin was in a paddock and a bit hard to follow so not being on the trail to start with and trying to find it would be hard.

Had enough time to get back to the previous town before dark but decided to push my luck and hoped that if I was where I thought I was that the valley to the north might get me out. At least going to the top would give me a better view of any possible options and maybe the trail in the book started out from it at some point. No luck finding the trail but did see the valley and mountains I had seen from the trail I had taken in the morning. Better yet, saw the farm house I had seen about an hour from the start of the trail.

Looked like it the top of the valley was a pass and I would be able to get down back to the path I had been on in the morning. Decided to try my luck and see if I could get down to the path and just as importantly do it without anyone at the farm busting me for being on private property and trying to explain, in english, to some spanish guy that I had been following a guide book and gotten lost.

Headed down the gully and luckily stumble before having some real bad luck and steeping on two snakes on the path. Like to think that it was deliberate and that I had seen the snakes on a sub conscious level and stopped myself before I was consciously aware of them.

Anyways, got down the bottom of the hill and ran into my next major hurdle. A fence. Stone bottom that was just over 1m high with a metal grid like fence, 1.5m high, across the top. Both fences periodically tided together with loops of metal wire so no way to sqeeze through. Found a gate but it was padlocked and had stones placed against it to stop it being opened. Guess the owner doesnt want anything getting in or out.

Walked along the fence and managed to find a spot where a few loop times had rusted through and broken. also managed to use my fingers to untwist a few more loop ties. at least enough to climb on top of the fence and push the mesh fence far enough away to squeeze through. Since was was only polite, I retied the wire loops I had undone.

Not sure what I would have done if I hadnt found a way to squeeze through since it was starting to get late and Im not sure Iwould of made it back to the village before dark. Would definately of tried to call out but not sure if the owner was home (or would have heard me) since when I got back to the path and continued on my way no one came out of the house to ask me what I had been doing on his private property. Guess I might have ended up spending the night in the woods or maybe I could have climbed up the walls on the fence edges to get across. Luckily didnt have to find out.

Headed back to camp and near the end decided to wander up one more hill and saw a couple of deer mating. Not what I would call pleasant. Basically one of the rears up and comes crashing down head to head. CRACK!CRACK!CRACK! At some point someone gets tired and they coupulate. Then the head banging starts again. If anyone was to try something like that Im sure they would have a splitting head ache or be knocked unconscious.

All in all probably the most adventurous day I've had so far in my trip.

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