In Awe Of The Almond Blossom In Santiago Del Teide

Mother Nature is a right tease and a bit of a flirt, she threw the whole charm offensive at me on the Almendro En Flor, each step brought new delights. This was the fifth year I had strode out on the almond blossom trail from Santiago del Teide to Arguayo but there are subtle differences each time depending on the Tenerife weather.

So there I was just before 10 am cresting the ridge of a hill by the reservoir and accepting a warming swig of home made red wine from a group of Canarian chaps. It was sweet, strong, and tasty, perfect to deter the chilly morning, the temperature had been in single figures when hundreds of walkers set off from the church plaza just after 9 am. This winter has been exceptional with loads of daytime sun and hardly any rain, the reservoir still looked well stocked and the first flush of pink and white blossom was sprouting forth on all sides of the old track.

Showers had been foretold but as the wispy clouds evaporated they left a clear, deep blue sky guaranteed to lift the soul. I had started out in jeans and pullover but soon stuffed the thick top into my rucksack. This special promotional day came with informative guides for those seeking knowledge, there were shorter routes but I went for my usual full 9 km stretch. The routes will be at their best for the whole of February, I could see lots of new buds forming on the trees to replace the fallen blossom that made a colourful carpet along much of the walk. The first burst of sunshine left me with a two tone feel, my face and arms were glowing nicely but I was still glad of my jeans in the shadows from the stone walls that lined the early route. That soon changed as the path rose higher and became more exposed, a large open plain was dotted with blossom laden trees and the shrill cry of birds was joined by the low buzzing of bees feasting on the petals.

It’s not just about the almonds, the edge of the lava field at Chinyero was heralded by the shrine to the 1909 eruption when the statue of the virgin was taken out to stand guard against the flowing lava and it stopped in its tracks. This was nearly half way through the walk and good place to stop for snacks, before attacking my sarnies I consigned my jeans to my rucksack, it felt good to be back in my usual uniform of shorts and t shirt. The atmosphere among the enthusiasts was relaxed and we all found our own pace, I pushed on into the large expanse of lunar like lava so I could make a few small detours from the well worn path to appreciate the strange formations of dark rock. It’s always a striking contrast to see the army of pine trees rising in the distance on the edge of the solidified flow, nature always prevails.

The state of recent weather accounts for most of the variables along the way, previous wetter winters have produced a dazzling white cap of snow on Mount Teide, this time it was almost clear but still majestic. Lack of rain ensured firmer ground underfoot and a crispy sprinkling of fir cones and dried twigs over a dusty base. Santiago del Teide came back into view as the semi circular route almost curled round on itself. The spread of almond trees was relentless, some of the almonds were taking shape but the commercial harvest will have to wait until later in the year. After four hours Arguayo was also looming into view but there was still a steep zig xag pathway down to the small village. It was 20 plus degrees as we started to stream down the final hill, my rucksack was fully stuffed now, maybe I hadn’t needed to pack those snow shoes, distress flares, and inflatable canoe after all.

My senses felt fully loaded as I swapped the rough track for a tarmac road, looking back there was still a strung out procession off more walkers to come down. In the later stages several groups had passed us making the trip in the opposite direction and there was a good mix of nationalities enjoying the challenge of the day. I was looking forward to a short journey back to Santiago del Teide before heading back to Los Cristianos but I didn’t realise I still had a bit more adventure to go…