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Tramuntana backpack; Mallorca

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Tramuntana backpack; Mallorca

Postby edhyatt » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:32 am

Avoiding the festive season....

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Paying now for romping along the PCT in the name of research; three months at a desk doing analysis….and not enough exercise. Mallorca hurts the unfit.

The Bar Mavi serves up a fine breakfast as the dark skies and drizzle are contemplated….

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A brief cessation and one wends one’s way along to the bus station and a trip to Es Capdella….

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Yet another variant of the GR221 kicks along from here, not that I will follow it for long. This route is planned around water….which can be hard at this time of year….but I think I have cracked it this time. I have not of course.

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Ere long Puig Galatzo hoves into view; not this time, it marks the western boundary of my little jaunt – I’m heading east.

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The sun makes a brief cameo appearance, but will sadly confound forecasts and be overwhelmed soonest.

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I take lunch (the de rigeur gristle pie) at an out-of-season hotel and spa. Spa indeed, it starts to p*ss down, thalassotherapy in practice…never has my skin felt so soft…

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Brazenly as I ever I scoot past this….

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…and am then stopped at a gate where a nice zoo keeper explains that while she would let me through the 3m high chain link fence that bounds this private zoo will not; she explains an alternate way to trespass on their property.

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Now it begins to rain in earnest. That soft drizzle that slowly soaks you…creeping into every fold; does this deter me from trying an off-trail alternate, pah, no….I enjoy retracing my steps having flailed (and failed) through impassable ground for half an hour. Thoroughly wet now.

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Galatzo is wreathed in cloud.

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Yeah well, someone has to.

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The dank forest is a little unsettling…mossy and stony, the odour of leaf mould released by the rain permeates the trail.

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I know that once I stop life will suck, as a wet me will soon have to put up a soon-wet tent. A need to snatch a pyrrhic victory from the day pushes me on to the Pas de sa Rata, a scramble up onto the Planicia escarpment.

And of course the font that should flow does not. But the rain is a blessing….and a litre of filter-stopper orange gunk is collected from a path-generated rivulet. Deep joy.

Normally benign polished limestone with winter moss and wet is not so much fun.

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Concentration ensues.

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Balance in solitude.

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I’m cold having misjudged the conditions; an extra synthetic insulation layer should have been carried; ah well.

Hey, I get to pitch in a dank forest anyway.

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I knew there were Sitjas up here; these old platforms were once cylindrical storage for grains, although here more often used (so I believe) for charcoal burning. Charcoal making may have been introduced by the Romans originally, but it was the Moors from the 10th century that made it more widespread and with a connecting path network – these paths form many of the trails on Mallorca.

The platforms that remain are mostly clear of vegetation and have accumulated moss and earth so are quite good tent bases; but take some ti stakes - they are built from rock.

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I’ve pushed the envelope of daylight here…and all-too-soon the night encroaches. Tis a tad spooky…

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I take a while to heat up; especially my feet…but my heart is warmed by the delightful tale of The Christmas Prince, a Netflix classic….



The morn. Dank, cold, and drippy. The delight of putting on yesterdays wet clothes awaits….

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Coffee helps. Decant my vile mix of powders (lifted by the addition of cacao) into my slosh pot and I am ready to leave the cocoon. No butterfly this, a damp little goblin who travels at speed for the first couple of kms; which works, I warm up and dry out. Well, apart from the fizzing socks and shoes…ferementation in practice.

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I’ve always liked the forest on this side of the island, especially early morn as the sunlight slants through and the day picks up – quite the contrast with their austere, dark gloominess of yesterday.

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The morning sun on the escarpment is great and almost warm; one tarries to drink breakfast.

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Sadly, however, the rain again sweeps in just after I leave Esporles; it is another wet trudge through forbidden ground to Valldemossa (a route I’ve done a number of times). Warm and wet this time though.

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I reach the intended campsite before 15.00…but the decision to move-on was made some time back, to push on to Valldemossa and stay there; 13 hours in a tent is bad enough…15 cannot be contemplated. Moral fibre; lacking.

Sanctuary.

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Repast of the variety tasty.

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Repeat. Ad infinitum.

A different breakfast.

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But it is off the bus and straight into the rain…again. Bah.

The forest up from Valldemossa affords covers but uphill in a waterproof sucks, yet I am heading for hotel sanctuary again, so swap out for a quickly wetted-out windproof. This section has been done before, but down to Deia not so – it looks promising but not on this day with blown drizzle and cloud and a skating rink of wet polished limestone.

Cessation of the deluge at the rather-too-twee Deia.

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Up into those clouds; I am heading for another scramble, the Pas d’en Marc.

Up on well-marked paths to a font and the then somewhat elusive start of the traverse to the Pas.

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Yeah, well…normally I’d be the first to decry such rock vandalism…but on Mallorca, occasion demands any help you can get….

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A great traverse through scrub pine and abandoned olive trees leads to this little helper…

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But the line gets drawn at this wet and slippy downward traverse; the plastic coated cable and slimy rock offering little purchase, with major damage a reward for carelessness.

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I don’t spend more than ten minutes mentally wrestling with turning back; dammit. Eventually I can flick it away.

Custard comfort.

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The slap in the face is that descent is necessary to regain the longer path to the same point; double dammit. Although as compensation I drop into a vast area of ancient workings with plenty of camping potential for the future; noted.

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Ere long the path points up, heading for the Puig Des Moro and a descent to Soller.

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It is steep and as I will put around 1700m of ascent into my ‘desk legs’ today it is beginning to bite.

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There is even the reward of some weak sun as I pull onto the summit ridge; man it is super rough up here. Cairn spotting concentration required to keep vaguely on track.

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There are several navigational clues in this shot; good luck with that.

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More clarity in direction ensues.

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A tad of scrumping never goes amiss…hey, I already have trespass under my belt on this trip….with more to come tomorrow morning.

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The lovely Hotel El Guia has changed ownership and now opens for more of the year; newly renovated it is delightful – welcomed with a glass of wine….this can’t be bad.

This can be.

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This can’t.

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I’ve done the mega-climb up to the Alfabia Ridge a few times (and in descent); today I choose the option of grabbing a cab up to the Col de Soller and then trespassing a touch to take the direct scramble of the Pas de Can Topa onto the ridge.

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It is a straightforward easy line with a little exposure; but dry today, which is a boon.

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The ridge is fine, and one climbs gently over the road to the military communications towers then on old Sitja link paths to the summit of Puig de Alfabia.

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Clues are available.

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Once up onto the main ridge, which is largely pathless and rough for 3-4 kms life does one a favour by adding complexity….

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I love it up here.

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This is the fifth time I have done this ridge….heralded as the hardest walk in Mallorca – oh no siree, not by a long way. But it is enough that’s for sure, and on a clear day is a stupendous trip out.

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Towards the mid-point the sun makes a return and maintains a watery presence for the rest of the day. At the Col de sa Poma it is time to head off in search of water.

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Which is happily plentiful

The walk up to the Col des Gats with a pack that weighs 3kg more is not so jolly.

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As we can tell….

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I have an hour and a bit of daylight to play with and like to camp high; had I only known how much the wind was going to pick up.

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Early evening excursions are necessary to secure the tent…as it blows hard all night.

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Its all a bit daunting.

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After watching a film I am pretty confident the tent will stay up, so in with the (very necessary) earplugs; I sleep pretty well.





Still blowing a holie in the morning. I’ve spent a warm and comfortable night but once the earplugs come out the tent noise is quite something.

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I try a posh pork and beans breakfast ( a dehydrated special); yuk. Fall back on my powders and slosh-pot.

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Last nights mists are still swirling as I wander up to the 1086m summit of Sa Rateta.

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Still leg-breaker territory.

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I’ve not been quite this way before and the old mule track that links the ancient snow caves is great; the caves themselves are super deep….one even has a bijoux snow remnant, making its case.

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Later that night I will eat one of these three…

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I’m pretty much done though; the last few days have kicked my unprepared legs around and it is only my pre-knowledge of the island and its paths that have helped me thus far.

At Cuber reservoir I stick out a thumb and the second car transports me to the Sanctuari de Lluc, a bed, warmth, food, and the smallest bath ever beheld by man.

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As is my wont, and in a totally non-religious way I light a candle for those we love who have passed.

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Re: Tramuntana backpack; Mallorca

Postby Timberline » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:51 am

Maravilloso! Feliz Año Nuevo!
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Tramuntana backpack; Mallorca

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:28 pm

Wonderful stuff! Did you learn to speak any Mallorquin?
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Tramuntana backpack; Mallorca

Postby Timberline » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:36 pm

No, just Spanish, courtesy of my Peace Corps service in Central America. And I got to do some trekking "out on the edge" there, too. Hiked the Isthmus, Pacific to Atlantic (well, Caribbean, so almost) in 1967. Anyway, I sure enjoyed your unique trip report. What a fascinating place, Mallorca, sí? Thanks a lot for that post!
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Tramuntana backpack; Mallorca

Postby Shawn » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:40 pm

Such an amazing report. Who could ask for more. A beautiful island, terrific scenery, fantastic hiking and the wonderful photos. Thanks for taking us there!

And the FOOD !!!
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Re: Tramuntana backpack; Mallorca

Postby edhyatt » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:18 am

Thanks chaps.

I have acquired sufficient Mallorquin to ask for cakes :yummy:

Very easy to get to from the UK, and legs willing I will head back in the Spring for this....

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