Monday, 28 May 2012

Plaine des Palmistes to Plaines des Cafres via Piton Textor

For this hike we started at Plaine des Palmistes at an altitude of just over 1300 metres at a car-park and picnic area called the 'Kiosques de Bras Piton'. 

sign shortly after the start of the hike.

The weather was damp (later on we had rain) and the going was quite tough and muddy, with lots of tree roots strewing the path.  Initially the forest is composed of cryptomeria trees, but later becomes the humid forest typical of so much of Reunion's mid-altitiude mountains.

part of the path

On this sort of hike tree roots can sometimes be helpful, acting almost like stairs, but at other times they can be quite treacherous and trip you over. You really need to watch your step.

Initially not too tough, the path rapidly became steeper, and over a distance of 5km until we reached Piton Textor we gained 840 metres in altitude.

part of the hike borders military land

regular white marks show you're on the right path

As we gained in altitude the weather became wetter and the  vegetation sparser.

we passed through an area that burned 5 years ago

at over 2000m altitude, near Piton Textor

Due to the weather Piton Textor (2224m) was swathed in mist and clouds, but could nevertheless be identified thanks to the telecommunications tower on its summit.

Piton Textor at sunset (photo Wikipedia)

The Piton is quite an important landmark as the road to the volcano passes by its base, as does the GR2 (one of Reunion's most important hiking trails); our path leading up from Plaine des Palmistes; and another hiking path leading to/from Piton de l'Eau.

signboard near Piton Textor

From Piton Textor onwards we were following the GR2 path in the direction of Route Nationale 3, from where we would be picked up.

Fairly quickly once we left Piton Texor we found ourselves hiking along paths between fields of cattle.

The path passes by a place called Chalet des Patres, and we stopped for our picnic lunch here.

A few early arum lilies were flowering here - they're normally most plentiful in October.

arum lily (zantedeschia aethopica)

tree fern

This second part of the hike, from Piton Textor to Route Nationale 3 is longer - 8 km - but the slope is much gentler, as you only lose about 550m in altitude.

looking across the Plaines

clouds rolling in

We arrived happy, tired and a little damp! Altogether the hike was just over 13km long, and took us about 7 hours - including stops for lunch and some other breaks. 

signboard on arrival at Route Nationale 3

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