“Hike tomorrow morning. Room for 2 more. Interested?”
This was a text I received from my expat buddy, Willie, who seems to always be in the know on such things.
Never mind that it was received at 8pm on Friday while out to dinner.
Or that my wife and I had just completed planning our busy Saturday – much of it separated ushering the boys from one activity to another.
Or that they were to depart in about 12 hours time.
Such is life in southern Spain. You learn pretty quickly to just go with the flow.
The 8:00am alarm came pretty quickly the next day and I rolled out of bed and into some hiking clothes. I’m pretty sure this is the earliest I had been up for months. I packed a PB&J sandwich and a couple of granola bars into my day pack along side a water bottle. I contemplated throwing a bottle of wine in for good measure. I’ve been hiking with this group in the past and a little vino at lunch seems to be the hydration of choice.
There is a group of neighbors that like to plan day trips on a regular basis. I learned later that this particular hike had been on their list for several years but they always had difficultly scheduling it for various reasons. This sunny but crisp day in early December would have to do.
The group included six locals, most of whom have known each other for decades, the guiris – Willie and me, and our four-legged companions, Lola and Rito.
I just felt fortunate to be invited along. I’m not sure what Willie and I bring to the table other than poor language skills, free time, and a willingness to tag along. I think the locals like that we laugh at their jokes and are probably the target of a few more than we realize.
Lola and Rito have been designated “boyfriend/girlfriend” by their handlers and are a bundle of happy, disruptive energy when together. I see both around our Albaicin neighborhood on a regular basis and are usually pretty tame. However it’s nothing compared to when they realize they are about to be unleashed on a tramp through the mud and woods.
Rito is black like a bravo bull and built like one too. He is stout and as muscular as can be. We joke that he is the byproduct of a bear and toro. Rito likes to stay at the helm of the hiking pack to lead the way.
Lola, the yellow lab, is a little more svelte who’s biggest downfall is her car sickness. I haven’t been on a car ride with Lola longer than 30 minutes when she hasn’t yacked. Her owner is well aware of this and even has her skip breakfast on hiking days.
Despite this, once on the trail, Lola must put in twice the distance as anyone else. She likes to pace with Rito in the front but also periodically backtracks to whoever is last in the group to ensure everyone is still in tow. She can be seen constantly going back and forth, up and down the mountain.
La Maroma (The Rope)
The Maroma is the tallest peak of the Sierra de Tejada. It is sometimes referred to as the “rooftop of Malaga province”. Apparently the name originated from a rope that was used to descend into an ancient ice house located near the summit.
The range is located smack dab on the border of the Granada and Malaga provinces in Andalusia. It took us somewhere just under 90 minutes to drive to the trailhead from Granada city center.
There are 3 distinct trails to reach the peak. We elected the nearest starting point to Granada and reportedly the most picturesque.
The start of the hike begins on the north side of the range among a dense pine forest. It starts as a gradual incline with limited views.
As we slowly ascended out of the shadows of the forest, I could periodically look back through tree branches to see the familiar snow covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada off in the distance.
Continuing up, we came to an exposed ridge that would eventually need to be traversed to reach the payoff of the summit.
This was one of the best parts of the hike. Once I was able to see over the ridge to look southward, it dawned on me how close to the sea we were. Up to this point, I really had no idea. It opened up beautifully – with just about every different hue of blue imaginable.
Continuing along the ridge we eventually made our way to the more subtle plateau that makes up the rocky summit of La Maroma.
Below is a 360-degree video from the summit with views of Morocco, the Mediterranean, Costa del Sol, Sierra de Tejada, and the Sierra Nevada back toward Granada (snow covered in the distance).
And of course, no excursion would be complete without the obligatory meet up at the end over beer, port, and tapas at the local bar.
Hike Quick Facts
Distance: 8 km one way
Peak Altitude: 2066 meters (~6800 ft)
Elevation Climb: 1000 meters (~3300 ft)
Duration: ~3 hours one way