It’s not that it’s a long drive from Puerto de la Cruz to Teide National Park, it’s just that we’d sunk a cup of tea before we left, a fatal error in the bladder control department.
So it was with some relief (pun intended) that we parked up alongside the visitor centre and both headed towards the public toilets.
Unfortunately, what we were greeted with was two cleaner at work signs – one at the ladies and the other at the gents doors.
I started to walk around the sign, only to be halted by the cleaner who told me I’d have to wait ten minutes for the floor to dry before I could go in.
If I thought my face probably registered consternation, when I looked around Jack was practically dancing on the spot and complaining loudly that toilets should be cleaned before visitors arrive.
We waited a couple of minutes for the two cleaners to disappear before sneaking into the toilets.
We were on our traditional Boxing Day walk and we’d chosen to hike to the only remaining section of crater wall on the north side of the island – La Fortaleza.
When we set off, we discovered that we’re not the only ones who traditionally take a walk on this day as the path that leads from behind the visitor centre was unusually busy with hikers of every nationality.
It was a glorious day in the crater. The air temperature may have been around 10º C and the earth crunched beneath our boots in icy crispness but the sun was hot and with Teide covered in snow beneath skies that looked too blue to be real, it made for a wonderful Christmassy landscape.
When we reached the Degollada del Cedro, we detoured off to the small Ermita beneath the two pine trees on the ridge behind La Fortaleza and gazed back at the surreal landscape we´d climbed up from. A couple of hill runners sped past us on their crater circuits, neither of them exhibiting signs of fatigue. We, on the other hand were sweating after the climb and putting it down to altitude and shifting sand beneath our feet.
Descending back to the degollada we crossed the basin and continued beneath the wind-eroded columns of La Fortaleza to the mirador where the sea of clouds had rolled in to obscure all but the floating twin peaks of La Palma above them.
On the way back to the visitor centre we took a small detour from the path, spread a sarong on some flat rocks and ate our turkey butties – the sun on our faces, Mount Teide at our backs and the pine covered ridge on the horizon.
As I breathed in the crisp, clean air and contemplated my surreal surroundings, I realised not for the first time that we’d been spending far too much time in front of screens and not enough time hiking Tenerife’s amazing trails and landscapes. I could feel a New Year’s resolution coming on…