Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

January 24, 2011

Zarza Peak, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

By reaching the top of Mt. Teide on Tenerife on my own steam, I think a tradition has now been started.    Here's to reaching the highest point, on each Canary Island we visit!  Thankfully, Fuerteventura wasn't nearly so difficult.  Pico de la Zarza, as it is named, reaches only to 2664 feet above the sea, making it 9534 feet lower than Mt. Teide.  Located at the southern end of the island on the Jandia Peninsula, it is part of a half-moon of hills that resemble nothing more than a crater when seen by satellite.   Given that the islands were formed by volcanic activity, it probably IS a very old crater.

After some confusion in finding the parking area (note to self: read internet directions more thoroughly before leaving home), once found, the trail itself was almost impossible to lose.  It was wide, signed, and went mostly straight up from the oceanside in Morro Jable, to a wide ridge leading up to the peak.  In fact, the trail, like the good roads on the island, was better than any trail I have followed so far in the UK.  It was gently graded, volcanic rock, passing through a few stunted bushes and a whole lot of rocky nothingness.  The first ridge overlooked a defunct golf course on the left and an equally defunct quarry on the right. 

The town on the beach, Morro Jable, is known for a strong German contingent of sun-seekers, unlike our own resort farther north, where English breakfasts reign supreme.   To make our presence more acceptable to the hordes of weiner-schnitzel eating folks below us, I said "Guten morgen" to all the hikers we met on the trail.  They seemed to enjoy it.

We got quite lucky with the wind (the island wasn't named "Strong Winds" for nothing), and there was nothing but a gentle breeze as we hiked up the hill.  In fact, the warmth and sun made it a spectacular day, and a great hike.  It wasn't until the very top that we could see over the lip of the crater and down to the ocean on the other side.  Although there is a 4x4 track leading to a small village on the NW side of the peninsula, there are no other roads or settlements.  We perched over a sheer drop, to peer in awe at the vista, and we could see miles of untouched coastline.   We could even hear the roar of the ocean, as lines of waves rippled into shore.  It seemed like a great place for a future backpacking trip, except for an absolute lack of potable water.   Hmmm.

Rob says he looks like he is wearing a diaper here, but really
 it's my favorite new pack, the Nathan Intensity Race Vest. 
Sticks like glue to my back when I run, I love it!

From ocean to peak, it was about a 9 mile round trip, but nicely runnable on the way down, so a new favorite trail of mine.   I calculated in my head, that it was only take about 8 trips up the mountain to equal the distance and elevation changes of a Bob Graham Round....perhaps next time we visit?  If only the BG would really be that easy!  But wait, there are more islands to be conquered yet, no return trips for me.   Famous last words....

Here's the peaks of the Canary Islands, if you are curious:

Tenerife              3,718 m    Mt. Teide
La Palma            2,426 m    Roque de los Muchachos
Grand Canary    1,949 m     Pico de las Nieves
El Hierro            1,500 m     Pico de los Malpaso
La Gomera         1,487 m    Garajonay
Fuerteventura      812 m       Pico de la Zarza
Lanzarote            670 m       Penas del Chache

For those of you who are asking why I don't attempt Mt. Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in England, and Ben Nevis in Scotland, well, they are on my list as well.   It's just not quite as warm and sunny there right now as in the Canaries  :)

Facebook photos of the hike, and other adventures on the island are HERE.

Zarza Peak in the distance,
with the trail leading along the ridge up to it.

A bit of sparse vegetation (finally) after just bare rocks alongside most of the route.


  1. I could get used to the warmer temperatures but not the barren terrain. There'll be no surprise vistas around the corner there, I'd guess. It looks as though you had a great time nonetheless ;-)

  2. No, I don't think I could live down there...I love seeing a few trees once in a while. BUT, it is a nice place to get away for a week!