Hailing from the relatively flat East coast, I've been happily surprised to discover a newfound love for mountains this semester: Granada is nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada (literally: mountain range covered in snow), one of major ranges of Europe. Apart from stunning sunset views, the Sierra Nevada offers skiing (Granada’s locals brag that southern Spain is one of the few places in Europe where you can swim at the beach and ski in the same day), fascinating geologic history, and, of course, hiking.
The routes behind the Alhambra offer some of the most breathtaking views of the city—watching sunset from the Dehesa del Generalife is a must-do. From there you can also glimpse the taller mountains of the range situated further westward—including, on clear days, Mulhacén, the tallest peak in the Iberian Peninsula, and the destination of a handful of IES Abroad students and I during a weekend trip in October.
Despite being a popular route and well-documented online, planning our trip to Mulhacén still took some time: guides recommend staying overnight in Capileira, the mountain town situated closest to the peak and either 1) taking two days to climb the mountain and staying overnight at the Refugio Poqueira (a small backpackers refuge about halfway to the peak) or 2) climbing the mountain in a day after getting dropped off at the Mirador de Trevélez by a park-run shuttle.
Our group elected the day-trip option, whereupon we came across the first challenge: figuring out how to book the park shuttle, which sells out weeks in advance. The park’s online presence was…lacking. After a few hours of scraping the Internet, however, we found a site with the correct information and, following a phone call in (very) broken Spanish, we had spots booked. The rest of the planning process was more or less simple: finding a hostel, booking a bus to/from Granada, and packing enough layers (shoutout to Mosaico thrifting!) were easy. Fast forward a couple weeks, and it was time:
Day 1 (Sat, Oct 8)
- 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.: Granada to Capileira
Having returned from an IES Abroad trip to Córdoba the previous day, I slept in—so much that I almost missed the bus from Granada (not to anyone’s surprise, though: I’m chronically late to practically everything here). Despite the initial hiccup, however, the rest of the bus ride was uneventful. After lunch at a nearby café in Capileira—a charming though petite municipality—we explored and found that the two things to do in town were, in fact, closed. Not to be deterred, we hiked the foothills behind the town, shopped for snacks (whereupon I discovered that peanut butter, my favorite hiking snack, simply doesn’t exist in Capileiran grocery stores), carbo-loaded at tapas, then turned in for an early night.
Day 2 (Oct 9)
- 10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.: Capileira to Mirador Trevélez
- 11:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.: Mulhacén! (+ stop for lunch at the peak)
- 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.: Mirador Trevélez to Capileira
The big day! After an early breakfast, we set out to the Mirador Trevélez, a lookout situated about 3 hours (by foot) from the peak. On the shuttle, we made friends with Paco—a friendly park ranger—and got moderately motion sick. Nonetheless, the climb itself was magnificent: though I was slightly winded the whole time (after 10,000ft., you can really feel the altitude), the trails were well-delineated and, of course, the views were spectacular. As we ascended, our surroundings alternated between fog (particularly as we walked through the cloud cover) and sun from a brilliantly blue sky.
At a brisk pace with breaks every 30-40 minutes, we reached the peak in about 2 hours, giving us time for lunch, as well as the opportunity to take an alternative route down (during our ascent, we followed the trail Lomo del Mulhacén; on the way down, we followed a trail parallel to the Río Mulhacén). On the way back to the shuttle at Mirador Trevélez, we saw mountain goats(!) and stopped briefly at Refugio Poqueira. The last hour was harried as we were slightly behind schedule to reach the shuttle by the time of departure but, ultimately, we successfully reached our destination. Our efforts were rewarded with a hefty dinner back in Capileira (and several glasses of tinto).
Day 3 (October 10)
- 7:15 a.m. - 9:35 a.m.: Capileira to Granada
I like my sleep. As such, I was not entirely pleased to rise at 6:45AM to check out of our hostel and get to the bus. Dead asleep on the way back to Granada, the only thing I remember is waking in the bus station and wondering if the whole weekend had been a dream—then getting a whiff of myself (there was no laundry in the hostel) and realizing that it had, in fact, been very, very real.
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Hola! My name is Caroline (she/her), and I am a rising junior at Bowdoin College studying History and Economics with a minor in Mathematics. Beyond the classroom, I’m a Wordle enthusiast and love spending time outside (though I am a notoriously slow walker). Another fact about me--I love the em-dash. Looking forward to sharing a sliver of my life here in Granada!