Galillo hike (Andalucia, Spain)

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We leave our farm stay before the dawn to drive around the mountains to the start of the hike to Galillo in the Sierra de la Cazorla. There are various ways to complete this hike. You can do a loop that takes in views of La Iruela and Cazorla. Or you can walk up and back to Galillo. We chose the out and back trail because it stays up high in the alpine mountains, which Mum and I both love.

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Our hosts at the farm stay had loaned us a topographic map of the national park so we knew exactly where we were headed. But it was nice to see that the trails are well signed.

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They also meet the European standards in coloured paint markings. The trail to Puerto de Galillo uses a yellow and red paint marking. I love this style of trail marking because it means that you can always follow the trail, regardless of the state of the signposts and regardless of the language / alphabet used to write on the signposts. Just remember your colours and you’re set.

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Galillo is the high point in the Sierra de Cazorla national park. It stands at over 1,800m in altitude. The trail leads to the col / pass between the mountains twin peaks but you can get to the top of the mountain from the pass without too much difficulty. It’s only a short walk there and navigation is simple, given the open alpine terrain.

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The walk up the mountain starts on a steep gravel road that takes us to the first pass and the point where the loop track leaves the one we’re taking. We then enter the alpine zone for the first time before the road becomes a trail and we drop back down between the trees. The contrast of wide open rock-littered space and the forest is stunning.

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We stop for morning tea at some rock cairns on the way up the mountain. The sun is shining but it’s still cool. There’s frost on the ground, indicating that the temperature is somewhere around 0’C. Funny thing about perspective. In the past 0’C would be a temperature I find cold but after my time in Poland I’ve acclimated and now it’s not too bad.

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The walk to Galillo is almost entirely uphill (as one might expect given that we’re climbing to the top of a mountain). But after the initial ascent to the first pass the climbing isn’t steep at all; it’s quite a moderate grade and makes for pleasant hiking.

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The rock formations on the peaks of the various mountains you hike past and round also keep the climb and subsequent descent interesting. I mean, how can you be miserable or exhausted with this kind of landscape to look at.

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Not ones to settle for stopping at the pass we walk and scramble to the summit of the mountain. The views are incredible!!! All around us there are mountain peaks as far as our eyes can see. I never expected this from Spain. We’re lucky that it’s been a warm winter because usually there would be too much snow up here on the mountain to hike at this time of the year without specialist gear. I realise that I probably will need to return to Spain to do some more hiking; maybe some on some of the grand routes (GRs) that pass through this and other areas of southern Spain.

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