GR 130 - San Nicolas to Los Canarios 14.7 km

Secretly, I was very pleased to be walking this stretch of the GR130 again as, apart from wanting to find out if the route was still in tact after damage to the road in the south west, it is  many years since we last walked it, 2002 in fact.   My only recollection was of lava fields, a forest trail and emptying my boots of sand - as it transpired, I wasn't too far wrong.
San Nicolas was quietly bathing in early morning sunlight when we began our walk, setting off from the GR130 sign on the main road.  This indicated that Los Llanos is 10.5 km to the north and that we southbound people should head down a quiet lane, lined by bright green vines.
I know some people don't like walking on the road but at least it is a chance to stride out, make good time - and sing loud!  Yes, I probably haven't mentioned that we get through a good few tunes on our walks. Well, maybe not good but certainly a few.  And so, to a dodgy rendition of the Bohemian Rhapsody, we very quickly walked 1.3 km to the next sign where we noticed that a dog that was momentarily considering following us, thought better of it.
Along the way, a couple of side roads tested us to see if we were still watching out for GR 130 markings which luckily, we were.  But it wasn't until we stopped to look around that we noticed what a good view it was back to Los Llanos in the distance and the northern rim of the Caldera. 
Before long, we came back to the main road again and into Jedey strung out along the road with its couple of shops and pizzeria. Here the sign told us that we could take a left and head up the LP15 to join the Ruta de Volcanes 12.5 km away. No thank you.
At the end of Jedey, the route took us right and off the main road, with 2.3 km already walked from San Nicolas. Now we were on a nice little side track, still with easy, fast walking. 
An interesting smell alerted us to the fact that there was a goat farm nearby and sure enough, a couple of minutes, later we were right by the farm resplendent with the customary pallets to keep the goats in. Now the track more or less petered out and before we realised it, we were in lava flow country.
It certainly was very interesting, crossing where the lava had spilled down from the volcanoes above. The path was quite easy at first but as time went on, it became rougher and our speed had slowed considerably to almost picking our way over the loose stones.  But at least the path was obvious, albeit ever changing, sometimes cobbled stones or sand and sometimes smooth lava.

The story is that the lava flowed down the slopes and stopped just short of a statue of the Virgin Mary.  Yes, a miracle!  They had to move the statue three times, but the lava definitely stopped eventually.  They say there is good in everything and the good thing here is that vines love the rich volcanic earth and the warm climate creates the perfect growing environment.  Look out for Teneguia wine in the shops!      
Along the way, we enjoyed some lovely views looking back to La Bombilla near Puerto Naos, the lighthouse and a green sea of banana plantations. 

After around an hour from leaving San Nicolas, the scenery was greener and we were just crossing strips of lava flow. A few 'markers' intrigued us in the form of concrete blocks with the letters carved 'LL' for Los Llanos or 'F' for Fuencaliente and also 'P' (answers on a postcard).  Now the scattering of pine trees increased in number and we exchanged the lava for a pine forest and we started to ascend quite steeply with bend after tantalising bend making us think we were about to reach the road any second.  Oh no you don't! 
A little before reaching the road, the sign told us we had walked almost 7 km.  Phew - 11 o'clock and it was hot, even with dappled sunlight, and on reaching the road we took a moment to drink and eat some fruit.  
As chance would have it, any queries we had about the road works were answered straight away in the form of a sign announcing the times of road closures.  Obviously, this is a temporary state of affairs and certainly doesn't affect the walking route.  But it is also at this point that there is an 'albergue' at the roadside which was  built in order to accommodate road workers years ago and has now been renovated and turned into a hostel.   I believe it may just be for school groups etc.  
We crossed the road now and headed upwards to begin the second part of the walk. At first, it was a track of soft soil which eventually gave way to sand.  Much of the time we had a good view back to Los Llanos and down to the sea below us.
As we progressed, we saw at various stages where mini-barrancos had been made due to sudden, heavy rain in the past and, further along, we were looking down at the Hotel Princess with its twelve swimming pools.
There was also evidence of last year's fires with the lovely pine trees charred black.  It would break your heart to look at them until you realise how very resilient they are, springing back into life only four months after the fire.

But of course, all good walks come to an end as did ours, or the GR130 part of it at least, at this pine tree with its curious religious figures held within its trunk.  A further 20 minutes took us down the GR131 into a buzzing little Los Canarios.  When we re-start the walk to go up towards Mazo, we shall have to retrace our steps back up the GR131 to the GR130.  I must say, I'm looking forward to it, especially as Los Canarios to Santa Cruz is the only part we have not walked so far.   

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