Join me as I recount and remember my first ever long distance solo hiking adventure crossing the Tramuntana Mountain Range Mallorca GR221 route in January 2018.
Walking this route had been a dream of mine for a few years when I was living in Mallorca.
Today I share with you Day 4 of my adventure across Mallorca. To read Days 1 to 3 please click on the buttons below.
Saturday 20 January 2018
Today was a long walking day for me. There was a lot of mountain walking too, which made the day doubly challenging. However, the scenery took my breath away on this section.
The day was broken up into three sections for me. First, was the relatively flat walk from Muleta to Soller town with Fernando. Second the big, steep climb to Cuber reservoir. The third was a shorter climb to reach Tossals Verds Refugio, which is tucked on the side of the mountain and a little bit off the beaten path.
Family whatsapp message:
07:23 Day 4 muleta refugio – Tossals Verds refugio
Expected walking time 8-9 hrs. Weather conditions partly cloudy no rain. I’ve decided to stop at the chemist for some ibuprofen to help with the muscle ache. But all in all that’s the only issue I have (which is saying something!). Fernando is joining me for the first part and kindly taking home unnecessary weighty items. 😊
Many days rolled into one
Today felt like lots of separate days rolled into one. On the first section (about an hour and a half), my partner Fernando joined me leaving Muleta Refugio and walking to the town of Soller. From there he took the bus back to Palma and I looked for a chemist to pick up some much needed ibuprofen and magnesium tablets.
I was about to learn just what a difference taking magnesium salts can have on your body when you are walking for many hours over the course of several days. It really helped eliminate some of the cramps I was having at night in my legs.
You really get the feeling that you’re stepping back in time. Some houses date back to the early 12th Century from emigrants who returned wealthy to the town. In the centre is Placa Constitució, which is the focal point of the town. It’s a beautiful square containing cafés and plane trees with a fountain in its centre.
A tram also runs between Soller and Port de Soller and is a popular tourist attraction as well as practical transportation.
I resupplied with some snacks here too, before saying goodbye to Fernando and continuing on alone with my slightly lighter pack.
This is a challenging stage. The elevation is 970m and descent 550m, and the route begins to climb when you leave Soller.
Starting the climb
So I psyched myself up and began to climb steadily out of the town, slightly reluctant to leave as it was a happy, bustling Saturday morning and felt very welcoming.
The morning was quite chilly and damp, and I was on the shady side of the mountain. However, I soon had to peel off some layers as I heated up from walking uphill.
Due to the bank holiday weekend taking place a lot of people decided to go out for family hikes. I found it a little frustrating later in the day. It was hard going and slow, and there were a lot of large families with children and dogs that were hard to pass.
To help myself stay focused, I would walk solidly for an hour and then award myself with a quick break to drink some water or eat a snack.
Steadily I managed to overtake most of the groups and found myself at the top of L’Ofre. There is no better feeling than finally reaching the top of the climb and being presented with a magnificent view such as the one below.
That’s Cuber Reservoir at the back that I would later walk beside. The mountain just left of the centre with the white ball on top is Puig Major, the highest mountain in Mallorca.
It also meant that the worst of the climbing of the day was over…hurrah!!. I was exhausted and struggled mentally and physically to keep myself going. I was so sweaty now from all the uphill climbing that I felt quite cold when I stopped.
Really, I just wanted to lay down at the side of the path and sleep for a while.
But I didn’t.
Using the View to Motivate Me
So I dug in deep and used the elation of the view to help carry me down to the water’s edge, making a promise to myself that I would be able to stop for some food and chocolate when I got there.
I loved being able to see where I had to go. The entire morning I had only been able to see a few metres in front of me. Now I was in a different territory. It was a big contrast.
The end of part two rocked!
13:25 Making excellent progress today. I’m already at Cúber (the lake section) and my book says it’s about 2 hours to the hostel when I thought I had 4 more to go 😅😃
Finally, after what seemed like forever I made it to the resevoir and carefully chose a sheltered spot to eat some lunch and relax for a while.
It was very windy, even though the sun was shining it felt quite cold, especially with my sweaty clothes.
After enjoying the view, food and a hot cup of tea I continued on.
16:42 It seems I took a wrong turn. Back on track now and on a clear path, but still an hour or so away from refugio.
A Wrong Turn
It was probably because I was mentally tired, but later on the route I saw a sign to “Coll de Tossals Verds” which took me off on a path to the right up to the top of the Tossals Verds Hill.
The right direction was for Refugi de Tossals Verds, not Coll de Tossals Verds, but I completely missed the clear sign pointing the other way…oh well.
Unfortunately, my mistake wasn’t obvious until I reached the absolute top of the peak, and then noticed that there was no way down on the other side. The hostel was almost spitting distance away, but there was no way to get to it without turning back.
On top of the Coll it was also dangerously windy, and a bit scarey walking on my weakened, aching legs.
This section of the Mallorca GR221 made me feel really small. The scenery is big in the mountains, and it doesn’t take much imagining to realise that if a storm came in, it would be seriously challenging out here.
Walking in the Dark
The last part of the walk made my eyes stand out on stalks. I was on the side of a mountain, walking across rocky ground in the pitch black.
Of course, importantly, I had my head torch, which was invaluable, but it was very easy to trip over unseen rocks and roots. Some parts were right on the edge of a steep drop off too, So I had to be careful where I walked.
I came across a herd of sheep, with all their eyes lighting up facing me in the dark, which was quite a sight, then, later on, I saw the biggest ram I think I’ve ever seen. It was enormous and looked annoyed that I was there.
Your mind plays tricks on you in the dark, and when you’re tired and alone. This was a test for me and I was so relieved to finally arrive at the hostel to the bustle of a Saturday evening bar and restaurant, although it was just a bit overwhelming for me right then.
It’s always good to realise that on the Mallorca GR221 there are no real threats from wild animals. Believe it or not, there are actually more poisonous snakes in the UK than in Mallorca! You do, however, come across a lot of sheep and goats, but other than that the weather is a much more challenging aspect. In the winter these mountains can be snowy, and strong winds can stop you in your tracks.
In summer the extreme heat can dehydrate you very quickly and I’ve seen people suffer from heatstroke even though they thought they could easily cope with the heat. They just came unprepared.
Always be prepared when hiking in mountains and bring extra clothes, food and water with you. Come equipped appropriately for the season and be honest with yourself about your own fitness.
I chose to bring one of these foil blankets, just in case I had an accident and I had to wait for help to arrive.
A Warm Welcome
17:58 Arrived 😅
The people in Tossals Verds were friendly and kind, the showers were hot, the food was fantastic, and the bed was comfortable. My Mallorquian roommates were also very respectful and quiet.
The only downside was that I had been allocated a top bunk, which with my damaged legs was a real challenge to get into, even with a ladder 🙂
19:03 I am sooo red! Think I caught the sun a bit even though I put factor 50 on this morning
20:55 I arrived in the dark in the end, but I had my head torch and the route was actually quite clear and easy to follow so it was ok. 😘😘😘
I think it’s fair to say that I wasn’t going to let much disturb my sleep that night. I completely passed out, not even worrying about sharing a room with three complete strangers.
Read day 5 of my Mallorca GR221 adventure here.