Today is a day off from the farm. I wake early and walk through the yard, heading for the kitchen. The half light of morning gives a clue to the weather to come- cloudless skies hint at another glorious day of Canarian winter sun. I don’t get far before the dogs are hopping, barking, licking and fighting to get my attention. Their excitement and happiness is infectious. I spend a few minutes saying good morning to each one- Lilla, Linda, Scruffy 1, Scruffy 2 and Pirate. I eventually manage to make it into the house when they get distracted fighting with each other and allow me to sneak away.
Fed and with a belly full of tea, Linn and I pack the running bag with some swim gear and food and start off on the trail. It is still early, the sun not yet high enough to prevent a slight chill in the air although we are soon warm from the steady pace we fall into. We decide on a run up to the tower at Torre Del Time and then from there we will take the trail back down- all the way to the beach at Tazacorte. The climb to Torre Del Time is tough- relentless extremely steep solid volcanic rocks-but the familiarity that a couple of previous runs here have given makes it feel slightly easier. We run almost all the way but slip into a fast power-hike on a few of the gnarliest sections. The last push where the trail ends and a paved access road begins is particularly cruel on the morning legs. All the while the Tower looks on.
We reach the top and take in the view. A look into the ancient crater reveals lush green pine forests, gorges and trails galore. We have only yet explored a tiny part of the trail network along the crater ridge, behind Torre Del Time the peaks rise to the highest point of 2423 metres at Roques De Los Muchachos and from there arc their way around all the way to the town of Los Llanos that we can now see on the other side of the crater. Epic scenery, epic trails and ripe for epic adventures. We sit a while in awe of everything around. From here, 1400 metres below, I see Tazacorte, our final destination, and the sparkling ocean that stretches far into the distance- only meeting land once again on the shores of Florida.
We start the descent and I am soon in my own little world of fast foot-placements and micro -adjustments of vision that the technical trail and steepness demands. I adore the feeling when all else melts away and ones only thoughts are the next step and the feeling of speed- the trees whizz by from the corner of my narrow field of vision but everything is focused on the little bit of trail before my eyes. Linn passes me and I slow down and look as she gracefully glides down the narrow single track, her movements not one-following-the-other but seemingly a continuous choreographed dance. The kilometres fly by and we are soon crossing the road and rejoining the trail heading for Mirador Del Time. The sea beckons.
We pass one of the many banana farms on the island. The densely packed trees, trunks shiny like wax candles, all lean from the sheer weight of their crops. The huge banana leaf’s swing lazily as if to fan the giant bunches of fruit that is a treasured source of income and employment on the island. We pass another farm and then other and finally come to the clifftop. There,300 metres below, is the crescent shaped beach of Tazacorte. The black sand of the shoreline contrasts starkly with the multi-coloured buildings of the small village and also the pale skin of the tourists dotted along the strand. We set off on our final push- zigzagging dramatically down the cliff-face on a small path that resembles a miniature alpine road, all hairpin bends and precarious drop-offs. Near the village we run by the many caves that dot the cliff-face. These caves are now home to many hippies that have converted them to homes of varying degrees of comfort. Some are elaborately decorated with mosaics of shells and driftwood complete with doors and beds while others are merely grottos with a blanket for a door. The cave dwellers add a laid-back charm to the village- as well as an endless supply of jugglers, musicians and jewellery sellers.
We reach Tazacorte, take off our shoes and step onto the hot black sand. We strip off and plunge into the Atlantic waves instantly washing off the sweat and dust from another incredible run on La Palma. I lie in the sun drying quickly, thoughts already on the next trip- to the top of the island, among the space observatories where Roques De Los Muchachos awaits.