From Cercedilla to Cotos takes about 40 minutes by train, and I'd been told that the walk back down takes about six hours, so I caught the first train out of Madrid, apiedrand was in Puerto de Cotos, booted & backpacked, by 11.30.
Navacerrada. In February we got off the little Cotos train too early. This time I'd stayed on too long. Which is how I came to spend the day walking more up than down, under the bluest sky, following paths through a landscape carved out aeons ago by glaciers, and now protected - and offered to José Public - as the Parque Natural de Peñalara. I saw lots of butterflies and lizards, and heard crickets fizzing & buzzing in all directions, although it was mid-afternoon before I actually saw one. And two big birds of prey. I don't know what anything was, but I was out for hours and loved it. And I took some pictures.
Laguna de los Pájaros in the distance from Ruta 2. It was actually a full-on, no-kidding, to-die-for cerulean blue, but everything I photograph comes out washed out, and has to be warmed up in Picasa before it even comes close to the original. So frustrating. Anyway, next Saturday, I shall be back in the mountains for another glacier-theme day out, walking along Ruta 4 to the Lake of the Birds, 2,175m. above sea level. The starting point, Casa de Cotos, is at something like 1,910, so it's not as much of a climb as it sounds!
You have to try and imagine this lichen in 70s Retro lime green.
This isn't fog. It's cloud. The dot on the path is a walker, and the nipple on the mound on the right is the Refugio de Zabalo. From this southerly direction, to a townie on a day out, the refuge merely gives scale to the mountain behind, but if you were up here in rough weather, you would be deeply grateful to the people who built it.
I don't think these scrapes are man-made.
On the other side, the cairns were the only markers for the descent.
The trees are healthy, but mostly naked on one side. Hmm, winter must be interesting up here.
The retama - a kind of broom or gorse - on the higher slopes still has a lot of sunny yellow flowers left, but lower down it has handsome fat pods covered in a purple-grey velvet - and usually a few surprise pinecones, dropped from the canopy of branches overhead.