After a nice Airbnb night in Arenas del Rey, I was anxious to get started. However, the walking out of Arenas del Rey was frustrating. It just kept climbing, even when you thought that you had reached the highest point. I felt myself hoping for a section of flat track just to break up the climbing. Even with the little drop down through the town of Jayena, the quick break there seemed overdue. I eventually reached the flat I was looking for, but then most of the day had passed and it was time to camp since there was no town near. This was the best camping spot so far, under a group of pine trees on the soft needles. It is still quite cold at night, and I had trouble sleeping again.
Most of the altitude gain from the day before was then handed back, with steady downhill all the way through the hill town of Albunuelas to the bottom of the valley (Valle de Lecrín) at Restabal. Took a quick coffee break in Restabal before the final 8-9km climb up the other side of the valley to Niguelas, a quiet town nessled into the base of the Sierra Nevada National Park. I spent a rest day here, as this is the jumping off point for the stretch along the southern perimeter of the Sierra Nevada National Park.
I really needed the rest day. Besides being tired, the injury to my right leg suffered way back in El Chorro had gotten worse. My leg was swelling from below the knee, down to and including my ankle. There was also some noticable discoloration on my shin. At this stage, I made the decision to press on, using ibuprofen and taping to try to keep it manageable. I need to keep an eye on this and see how it goes. If it gets worse or makes walking more difficult, I will need to see a doctor and potentially get x-rays when I come to a larger town (like La Calahorra or Baza) in a few days. Hoping it’s not stress fractured.
The day from Niguelas to Canar was much better than the previous few days. There was a nice climb up into the Sierra Nevada mountains, and from there you could see forever. I couldn’t stop taking photos because the views were fantastic. The steep decent into Lanjaron on sometimes paved roads was not that leg friendly, but the section into Canar turned into single track mountain trail hugging the ledge, which was a welcomed change. Canar is perched high on a ridge overlooking the valley below. Very beautiful!
After seeing almost no one up to this point, I have definitely run into more people on this stretch. I ran into two older couples, one from the UK and one from the Netherlands, that were spending a couple of weeks on the GR7 as part of their holidays. I also came across quite a few miltary personnel in training outside of Arenas del Rey, some sort of trail running race near Jayena, as well as the occasional group of mountain bikers. Lanjaron also seems to have its fair share of tourists, as the regional hub with the famous Lanjaron hams.
Walking days: 16
Total distance walked: 429km (267mi)