It's always difficult dragging one's weary ass out of bed earlier than normal. A long, but stunning, drive of one and three quarter hours via Cadiar, Cherin and Laroles and we arrived at the start point, the 2000 metre pass of the Puerta de la Ragua.
It was a beautiful, blue sky day. Half an hour's easy walking led us to the Collado de la Cabuñuela where the view opened out and we could see all across the northern mountains to the snow clad Picon de Jerez.
The easy angle continued up to the summit of Morrón del Hornillo (2377m) where we got views down to the Castillo and town of Calahorra. After a brief rest we tackled the steepening slopes up to Morrón Sanjuanero (2609m). This was the hardest part of the day so we took it nice and steady. Lunch was taken on it's fine summit.
The plan had been to return more or less via the same route but us Nomads are made of more adventurous stuff so we decided to make a circular route by following a thin dotted line shown on the map that led east the south east from below the summit. The contours looked quite steep, but the ground looked fine to our eyes. This would link us with the forest track, part of the Trans Sierra Nevada cycle route that would take us easily back to the cars. This alternative would enhance the day.
The problem was ... there was no path. It soon became apparent that the thin dotted line on the map (a path) was not in fact a path at all. It was a shallow valley with a dry stream bed through it. The map makers had made a mistake! But, the terrain wasn't too difficult, not too loose, so we continued down. We came to a drop off where the valley went over a series of cliffs so to avoid, we traversed downhill rightwards (south) over relatively easy ground. Lower down, near the tree line we encountered a lovely mountain stream, the first sign of damp, wet ground we had encountered.
Out of the blue we heard a scream. It was Anna. She was trying to replicate Olga Korbut's performance at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich by performing an acrobatic back-tuck and flip routine. Unfortunately and, similar to Olga falling off the uneven beams, it all went wrong and she (Anna) started hurtling downhill out of control.
At this point a saviour arose in the form of her husband, David. He leapt into action emulating the Braemar World Caber Tossing heavyweight champion, Doug Edmunds. Grabbing his wife the pair rolled down a steep grassy embankment, over a low cliff and onto another grassy embankment below. They came to a halt.
The audience, actually the rest of the group, were silent. Silenced by shock. It had looked horrendous. Fortunately both were fine, albeit a bit shaken up. They dusted themselves off. We sat awhile next to a glorious mountain stream, discussing the accident. A superb day could easily have been spoilt by injuries to our two friends. We had descended and traversed through some quite steep slopes without a problem but maybe a momentary lapse of concentration, a misplaced step or even a slight dampening of the ground caused a boot to slip? Who knows? But, I think it is important to look at each incident and try to learn something from it and to gain knowledge and insight for the future.
As a footnote, there was no mobile signal here, although we might have managed to alert the Rescue Services. Who knows? I was glad of my decision to take the InReach Mini Satellite communicator with us. This would have alerted Rescue Services to our plight and exact location. Accidents can happen and it is important we have communication back up. It will certainly be with us on all future Nomad excursions.
We continued down without further incident and found a way through the lower barrier of pine trees to reach the forest track, the Trans Sierra Nevada cycle route. Turning north we followed this back to the Puerta de la Ragua without problem apart from the unwelcome attentions of a lonely heifer. Apart from a couple of hikers disappearing into the distance ahead of us and a lonely trail runner, we had met nobody else all day.
Going off the beaten track can land you in some incredible situations. Of course, you have to be prepared and experienced for rough terrain and going pathless isn't for everybody, but do it, take it in, embrace it and enjoy it! You see the Sierra Nevada how it used to be. Wild, untamed and natural. We left no trace of course.
The bars in Laroles were closed so we stopped for a welcome cold beer in Cadiar. A superb and eventful day of 11 kilometres with 660 metres ascent!
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