GR 130 - Los Canarios to Santa Cruz 27km

At last!  A chance to complete the GR130.
In eager anticipation of our walk from Los Canarios in the extreme south towards Santa Cruz in the mid-east, we were up and out of bed fifteen minutes before the alarm was even dreaming about ringing.  However, despite being on the road for 6 am, it was 9 am before we started walking.  Having driven to Mazo, left the car there, put our boots and rucksacks on and taken the bus to Los Canarios which waited at an intersection for another smaller bus some of whose occupants got off that bus and on to ours, a coffee seemed obligatory.
We headed up the steep path of the GR131 where we joined the GR130 around 25 minutes later. What a shame to have missed the sunrise - it must be beautiful from here!  Never mind, the view was still excellent and the track reasonably level so we adopted a recently-tried walking style - fast!  Well, it wasn't hot or difficult and we were interested to find out if we could walk all the way to Santa Cruz, so there was nothing to stop us.  Of course, it wasn't very fast, not compared to proper speed walkers, though I am sure we cut an odd couple of figures dashing along the pine-needle covered paths.
The signpost told us that it was 15.7 km to Montana de Las Toscas which, to be honest, we didn't know exactly where it was but didn't relish the thought of any type of 'mountain' anywhere.   In fact, the path was almost boring at the start being wide and used for vehicular access but soon it narrowed and we were really enjoying it. The kilometres quickly dropped away helped by the fact that I wasn't constantly stopping to take photos as our camera was in for repair.  We did however have a new mobile phone but I was going to limit myself to taking ten photos with it, well maybe fifteen or possibly twenty because we wanted to get on if there was to be any hope of getting to Santa Cruz in one go.
For the first hour, there were some sorry sights of burnt pine trees, a reminder of the fire from last summer.  And other signs of damage due to flash flooding but the beautiful scenery was by far the over-riding impression.  And I also discovered that taking photos with the phone was much less time-consuming than with the camera.
After quite a long and steep downhill section along a narrow path with large stones scattered over it, we were deposited at the road, which we crossed and walked along the other side of it for a while before it had us go through a tunnel under the road.  A little further along, this was repeated, ducking under the road and it all felt rather like a fun treasure hunt as we followed the excellent and frequent signs.
Not only were the signs impressively clear, possibly the best markings of the whole GR130 route, but the walking was very easy, certainly in this anti-clockwise direction.  We passed a couple of goat farms and a few crosses here and there, a roof where figs were laid out to dry and a few barrancos which were nothing more than dips.  Although we dodged on and off the road at times, a large bend was cut off where we had the benefit of a lovely stone path.
And the crosses as we started to approach Mazo ... don't even count the crosses!   And all of them managing to be quite different, some quite simple, others ornate.  Singles or a group of three.  One attached to the end of an old house and another with a painted landscape behind.
However, the nagging worry I had was this 'mountian.'  Surely, after we had been so spoilt with flatish walking, the route wouldn't take us up a mountain.  But once we got to a sign that told us that the 'mountain' was only 02 km away and I could actually see it did I feel safe, knowing that we wouldn't be going up it.  And gosh, it was beautiful!  A peak really with a good smattering of bushes growing on it and with bare rock showing through.  I must confess to having forgotten about the existence of such a wonderful piece of nature's architecture!  Unfortunately though, the phone camera was not going to do it any form of justice.
Now we were level with Mazo and a short detour meant that we could finish the walk here for the day and re-join our car, if we wanted.  But, feeling pretty pleased with ourselves at it having taken only four hours so far, we had a quick bite to eat at the park and sped on.  Only 7.1km to San Pedro!
And plenty to see - a 'quiet corner' for resting with a beautiful drago tree, cows at the side of the road, a second small mountain which thankfully we were not required to climb up either, a plaza for parties and pretty lanes to walk along.
Passing along what would normally (or sometimes be) a quiet back road of San Jose, they were in fine form with bunting up and a stage being erected.  And an ancient church. San Jose - we shall be back to inspect you more closely one day!  It was not long after this that we got lost and had to retrace our steps which obviously was back up the hill.  It was only by a process of elimination (which nearly included me being eliminated, courtesy of a speeding lorry) and by close scrutiny that we spotted the GR130 blaze.  Huh! So over a small rubbish tip then, how cunning!  Whilst we did appreciate the inventiveness of it, the lane at the side of it would have been easier. At least though, it brought us out onto a lovely cobbled path which took us into San Pedro.
Here, we knew the route would take us to the end of the small town but the signs were not easy to find, but find them we did and passing below the church we headed out of town on this last section of  4.7km to Santa Cruz.

We had been looking at Santa Cruz in the distance for some time now but for some strange reason, it didn't seem to want to come much closer.  We walked along a short section of new road on the pavement, passed Maroparque Zoo (another place we must visit) and then down, down, down the steep, steep road towards the sea.  Two things happened.  1.  The phone battery died - surely I had charged it .. I know I meant to ... and 2. my little toe was stinging and David's knees were twinging - the usual troublemakers.
But there was no stopping us as we suddenly found ourselves at the Town Hall in Santa Cruz, seven crazy hours from Los Canarios.  We had completed the walk - and the GR130.

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