Spain - Tenerife National Parks

by Kimp 1. August 2018 11:55

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Parks

When the Mar’s rover team’s want to field test one of their prototypes, they often head to Mt Tiede National Park in Tenerife, as parts of it are similar to the Geographic Landscape on Mars. The European Space Agency is also planning a rover mission to the Moon’s South pole, which has a very low light angle, casting very long dark shadows, that present their own issues, so they come here at night time to conduct’s test’s in the darkness.

Tenerife has several large National Forests and a large National Park surrounding Mt. Tiede. Of these, Mt. Tiede National Park is the most visited, but the National Forests are very nice as well. Thick lush Pine forests with lots of variety of Fauna and Flora. During the scenic drive through the mountain ranges, I think I drove past either a Military Base or Training facility, and along the way, I saw several soldiers on what appeared to be a right of passage trek through the wilderness. Good for them, and please protect the treasures that lie within, so that anyone and everyone can enjoy them.

Stargazing

The sky’s over Mt Tiede national park are often very clear at night, making this one of the world’s designated starlight destinations. Even if we don’t visit the world class Observatory, nor take a starlight guided tour, the nighttime sky is often very clear, yielding an Ocean of star’s, that I (being from Ohio which is usually overcast with clouds) , have seldom seen. Producing, good unobstructed views of the constellations as well. With its location near the Tropic of Cancer (location where the sun is directly overhead at Noon on June 21st each year), both Northern and Southern Hemisphere constellations are often visible. I did not know that there is a hotel (Parador hotel, Tenerife) high in the National Park, near the Cable Car lower station, until I had seen it, but after seeing it, I was wishing I had booked a few nights there. Looks like a very nice hotel at a modest price, and they have two telescopes for use by the guests. One review, said it was awesome up there, after all of the tour buses have left.

Cable Car

There is a cable car (closed due to high winds while I was there), that transports people to the upper station, where there are three prominent paths. Sendero (Route) 11 to the La Fortaleza Vantage Point is open to anyone, but the other two Rt. 10 and Rt. 12, are controlled access, and require a “Pico del Tiede” permit, which should be applied for in advance, long before your visit.  This permit only offers a very narrow window of time (1500 to 1700), and must be presented 30 minutes in advance, so 1630 is the last time that it can be presented for use.

Hiking

A Park visitor’s center, named El Portillo has hiking maps and ample information about the hikes and trails.

In general; some light research, a trail map, lots of water, a hat, sun glasses, sun screen, and a warmer layer for the higher climates is good advice.

Sendero (Rt) 11 Vantage point is about 25 minutes from the upper station. The trail is mostly flat, but due to the altitude, it is a bit tiring.  This offers a great view of the best side of the volcanic cone of Mt Teide, views of the black lava flows of prior eruption’s, and the untouched virgin hillside of Mt Blanca.

Sendero (Rt) 10 (Telesforo Bravo) to the  Crater of Mt Tiede, is steep and strenuous, takes about 40 minutes and it requires a “Pico del Tiede” permit. At the summit, you can peer down into the crater and imagine what a prior eruption might have been like.

Sendero (Rt) 12 Pico Viejo Vantage Point, is practically flat and takes about 30 minutes, but requires a permit. Offers a magnificent view of the crater of Mt Chahorra (0.5 mi (800 m) across) and its enclosure of sheer walls of rock. A good view of how the lava flowed down the sides, and views of the unique rock formations that were formed. In addition are nice views of the coastline of south Tenerife, its villages, tourist resorts, the islands southern airport and the nearby island of La Gomera (Another great Laurel forest area).

Sendero (Rt)  7 end’s at the Vantage point, but it does not use the cable car to get there. It is about a 5 hour hike, with a high degree of difficulty (gradients up to 60 degrees), and starts at the foot of Mt. Blanca (named because it is white, from significant amounts of suffer that were deposited there). This hike offers good views of Giant Accretionary Lava Balls, rocks that were ejected miles into the air, then landed on Mt Tiede and snow balled down it, picking up lava along the way, until they meet their final resting place. About the first 3 hours of this hike is a Jeep Track that circles up Mt Bianca, a decent hiking path of moderate difficulty. Getting off of the Jeep  path near the top, and going about another 0.5 hours will take a person to the summit of Mt Blanaca.

El Refugio de Alta Montaña Altavista

A place that can only be reached on foot, via the path to the summit of Mt Tiede, but has lodging for scientists and researchers.  Scottish astronomer Charles Piazzi Smyth, built the first hut here, in the summer of 1856, so he could spend 2 continuous weeks here, for extensive research. Many others have revised and extend it, and in 1970, the Island Council (Cabildo) of Tenerife took it over. It was last refurbished in 2007.

Mt Tiede

Mount Tiede is a Stratovolcano and the 3rd tallest volcano on Earth. It was selected as one of the Decade Volcanos.  Meaning that it is worth of extensive study, to determine the risks to the nearby population, should it erupt. This is done by studying prior eruptions that have occurred and trying to determine what risks a future eruption, may pose, to the islands populated locations.

Additional studies, to determine the geological processes that evolve, to create a solid foundation for Oceanic islands are on-going here.

Mt. Tiede is very different from Mt. Loa in Hawaii. Mt. Loa’s eruptions are very low in Silica content and tend to be less violent, but its lava flows cover great distances. Mt. Tiede’s eruptions are very high in Silica, tend to be very violent, but its lava flows are more confined (< 5 mi (<9km ), since its lava is much more viscous).

There was an eye witness account of an eruption in 1798.  The eye witness said that the explosions occurred every 10 seconds, were the sound of 20 artillery pieces being fired simultaneously, and that large rocks were hurled into one another on the way up and down.  Whirlwinds of thick black smoke everywhere, and that it caused the entire mountain range to tremble.

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Thank you for reading.

I  will see you next time,

Craig

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