Friday, 10 February 2017

9 February 2017 – Almond Blossom Walk

For us one of the most important walks of the year is the Almond Blossom walk.   We put a lot of preparation into this walk, and this year it really paid off.
We were pleased to have a group of 17 walkers, including four new to the group.   We like to keep the total no more than 20 to avoid it breaking into smaller cliques.   Fortunately this has never happened with this group.
The blossom usually lasts about two weeks, so it is important to choose the best week to offer the walk.   It is also important that not only is the bloom at its best, but also that we choose a sunny day to show them at their best.
This year we have had a lot of rain, storms and heavy winds, and a lot of the early blooms were blown away.   However it has recovered and we felt that either this week or next would be the best time to walk. 

Over the past two weeks we have done three recce.   The first was to check on the river levels after the heavy rain.   There are two rivers to cross on our preferred route and both were too deep and fast to cross.
The second two recce were to decide whether to offer the walk this week or next.   We would have preferred to leave it to next week to allow the blooms to recover, but the forecast for next week is not good.
We had explained the problem to the group and offered two possible walks for today, both starting from Parcent.  If sunny and bright we would do the almond blossom, if cloudy we would do Col de Rates.   If raining we would cancel the walk until next week.
It turned out bright and sunny so we opted for the Almond Blossom walk
The plan was to walk from Parcent to Murla, if we could cross the river there.   We would then return to Parcent by a slightly different route and go on to Alcalali where we would have our picnic lunch.   Then a circular walk of part of the Jalon Valley back to Parcent.   On our recce it had taken 12km and just over four hours
When we reached the river at Murla there was much less water than on our recce.  However there was still quite a lot, and we had to improve the stepping stones and help each other across.  But we all managed and without wet feet.   
We then walked up the dry part of the river bed and visited the abandoned restaurant, where we had our banana stop
Then through Murla to have a look at the not very attractive bell tower and back to the river.   Everyone crossed the second time without any problems
On the way back to Parcent we had found a particularly attractive field of almond blossom where we had planned our banana stop if we could not cross the river.  Although we had done so we still stopped for a water break and a photo opportunity.
We had not expected to be able to cross the river, and because we had our timetable for the walk was now well behind.   We had planned lunch at the picnic site in Alcalali, but it was lunch time when we reached Parcent.  So we choose a spot where we could all sit and each, and see Parcent through a frame of almond blossom.
We continued on towards Alcalali, but it was now four hours into the walk.   We did not want to make it too long, so we cut out the proposed visit to Alcalali.   Instead we had a short water stop at the picnic tables outside the Ermita.
After a very welcome cold drink in Parcent we made our way back to the cars.  On the way we passed this resident of Parcent who seemed bemused by all the activity and noise.
13 km
5.5 hours
200 metres of ascent

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