The Sierra de Gredos hide little-traveled places that have little to envy the crowded Gredos Circus. It is the case of the route by Covacha and his omnipotent Laguna de los Caballeros. These mountains do not have extremely difficult access, but what makes them so quiet is the distance you have to travel to reach them. Routes in which to cross someone is a matter of luck, being an idyllic paradise for those fleeing the crowd and large crowds, mainly during the winter.
Route through the Covacha. The farthest Gredos
We are in the first week of January and just 3 snowfalls have fallen in the Sierra de Gredos during the winter. Once again we chose the area of Ávila boat, looking for places little frequented and at the same time surprising for our sight. The area is home to mountains such as Covacha, the Peeled and theCorral del Diablo, being the first of them our goal. We had already uploaded this by going through the Laguna de la Nava, and doing night in the Boat Lagoon, but today's challenge was to do it in a single day and from the town of Navalguijo.
We start from the town of Navalguijo (province of Ávila, Castilla y León), 15 kilometers from Ávila boat. It was 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday and the sign in the parking lot showed the route to the Laguna de los Caballeros. This was not exactly very encouraging to indicate the almost 11 kilometers that there are to the lagoon, knowing that we would have left so many others towards the Covacha and that from there, we would have to return by the same way. Too bad not having 2 cars or having made the route in spring, taking advantage of more hours of light and going around the Bare.
We started at night and barely a few sunbeams appeared on the horizon. The road was quite flat and comfortable, being very well indicated at all times. We passed a first shelter that looked closed and later we arrived at an amazing waterfall, the Chorrera del Lanchón, which is worth a little deviating from the path to delight our eyes.
Chorrera del Lanchón
The road runs continuously with a stream on our left side, until it is divided into 2 and one of them is entered by a narrow ravine, called Knights Gorge. We will take this throat.
Ice makes an appearance and numerous waterfalls They appear petrified on both sides of the road. We must also look where we step, since numerous plates have been formed and these will accompany us on the rest of the route.
Route to the Covacha
We passed by 2 shelters more and the river continued on our left side. We began to climb our first slope, leaving the river under a deep canyon where a spectacular waterfall of ice fell. After this section we will reach some old mines of blenda, where there are still remains of the machinery and the building where the miners slept. Now it was time to cross the river and leave it on our right side. This zig zag down and we will be playing with him for another hour. In the distance the Juraco and the top of the Covacha on your left, after 7 kilometers traveled.
Last refuge before the Covacha
We step on our first snowflakes at an altitude of 1700 meters. Our legs were relieved because we traveled 9 kilometers with hard boots, It is not exactly nice.
The lagoon was begging and when we thought we would have it very close, there was always a small hill that prevented its visibility. In addition the snow began to get very hard and we had to put on the crampons.
And finally we come to the Knights Lagoon, all of it petrified with the imposing Juraco just behind. Who knows if I had ice skates would have encouraged me to slide through it… Later the crazy idea got out of my head, after hearing some metallic sounds that were born under the bowels of the lagoon. I guess they were big water bubbles that were moving inside or go to know if it was a giant trout 😀
Laguna de los Caballeros in winter
From the Knights Lagoon we climb a steep ramp on your left side to the Window Risco. This part requires crampons whenever there is snow, since the sun never touches it.
Once in the Window Risco, we turn right and begin to climb the ridge. There are certain sections in which we will have to use the ice ax, not only because of the ice that forms, but also because of the odd narrow passage.
We barely have 150m of slope to the top and the ramp begins to get tired. Numerous ice plates they have formed along the way, forcing us to take alternative detours. Just 100 meters from the top, we leave behind us the rock mass of the Juraco, the most visible top of the place.
The top of the Covacha It is ours and the weather is fabulous. We both sweat after 14.5 kilometers, that we have removed some layers of clothes. It is time to take a break and enjoy this Extremaduran summit. Yes, although it seems a lie, this top belongs to both Cáceres like Ávila, being one of the highest peaks of Estremadura.
Top of the Covacha
In fact, the crest of the image below separates both autonomous communities. The left part isEstremadura and the rightCastile and Leon.
After 30 minutes enjoying the nearby peaks, it's time to return ... Covacha route It's not over and we have to go back the same way 🙁. Almost 15 kilometers back to what we will surely do at night. Winter stuff.
For the next one, we bring two cars and the other one we leave in the town of Puerto Castilla. In this way we go through two more lagoons, the small one Square Lagoon and the Boat Lagoon. Another route for another occasion.
Practical data Route to the Covacha
When to go?
It is a mountain to visit mainly in summer and if it is done in winter, overnight in one of its shelters. During the winter few people go to their top and most of them stay in the Laguna de los Caballeros. It is very common not to see anyone during the route or at most 1 or two groups.
How to get?
SinceÁvila boat you must take the detour to Nava del Barco / Navalonguilla. At one point, you will find a detour well past the town of Navatejares, which forces you to go to one of the two villages. You go to Navalonguilla and after reaching the town, there is a street that turns to the right, about halfway towards Navalguijo. It is easy to pass because it is not very well marked.
You take this road and after reaching Navalguijo you have two options. Leave the car at the entrance of the town or in a small parking lot where the route of the Laguna de los Caballeros is marked. In this way you saved a couple of kilometers to your legs ...
To get to parking, you cross the town and turn left taking a tarmac road with cement. At the end of this you will arrive at the parking lot.
What to wear
In winter it is essential to wear crampons and ice ax, and of course know how to use them. The ramp that is above the Laguna de los Caballeros and some section before reaching the top, are very exposed and generally frozen to be in shade throughout the day.
Water is there all the way and as we have said, there are several shelters without guard where you can spend the night
As a recommendation, take some approach shoes, because walking with winter boots so many kilometers without snow can make a dent in your feet.
Where to sleep?
There are 4 shelters without guard during the journey, about 3, 5 and 7 kilometers from the parking lot. Some of them can enter up to 10 people and even more. It's all about tightening :-D.