Saturday, March 31, 2012

Exploring the Province of Alicante One Hike at a Time

So things have been awfully quiet around here since I wrapped up the Christmas Markets theme... sorry about that! It's just that I've been really busy what with my number of students increasing and the fact that I've been heading out hiking around the Province of Alicante most Sundays! This results in being exhausted on Monday and what little creative juices I have left after preparing/teaching my classes have gone into transforming my hikes (via photo selection/editing + writing) into blog posts on my "main blog" (under the tag Hiking Alicante). I've been wondering if I should just import those posts here... but it kind of seems like cheating to post things twice! Plus in my view this is my "travel blog" and for me hiking around Alicante doesn't count as travelling... but since I realise it might interest other travellers I hope to see visiting here, I figure I'll at least dedicate one post to hiking in Alicante and do a short presentation on all the hikes with links to the original posts, and then keep updating it with successive hikes. What do you think? (oops!, turns out I have a lot more hikes than I thought... so I'm doing a couple of posts!)

Physical map of Alicante (wikipedia)
The Province of Alicante may be one of the smaller provinces of Spain (41 out of 50 for surface), but it is the fourth most inhabited in the country (probably has something to do with the 23.6% which are foreigners)! In spite of this there are some "empty" areas in the province, mostly abandoned rural spaces or mountainous zones, since most of the population lives in an urban environment. Most people who visit Alicante just think of the Province as one big beach, since the coastal area and sunny climate are the big tourist draw here. Surprise, surprise: the Province of Alicante is actually the third or fourth most mountainous province of Spain! And these mountains create some pretty big climatological differences between the north and central parts of the province (proper Mediterranean climate so more rain, greener) vs the south and along the coast (semi-arid so dry and brown). This means hikes in one area will be quite different from those in another part of Alicante! The three highest peaks in Alicante are the Aitana (1558 m / 5112 ft), the Puig Campana (1410 m / 4626 ft) and the Montcabrer (1389 m / 4557 ft). So far I've climbed the last two. :o)

I used to do a lot of hiking as a teenager (lots of my family holidays involved mountains), but hadn't done much since I came to Spain for college. I started up again in Belgium in 2010 and in New Zealand in January 2011. So when I came back to Alicante in February 2011 I was anxious to keep it up! Unfortunately I didn't know the paths around here, or who to go hiking with (almost none of my friends are hikers). So I did what most people do in this day and age... I Googled it! Yup, I basically stuck "senderismo Alicante" in Google and out popped the Centro Excursionista de Alicante! A hiking (and climbing, canyoning, biking etc.) group that's been around for 60-odd years and organises outings for its members (and "friends") on weekends! Only problem was... only 1 hike / month! I couldn't go to the first two after I got back, then had a damn cycling accident and twisted my knee in April, and so couldn't join them for a hike until September! Since then I've done most of my hikes with them (and I became a member in Jan'12), but also with another group I found, the Trenet Senderista. Also, the Provincial Government organises hikes in the Fall and Spring, plus I've been hiking with friends I made through the various hikes, people who know the trails well enough to choose a nice spot to go to and won't get us lost! :D

Now, without further ado, I give you: Hiking in Alicante 2011! (Clicking on the names will take you to the posts)