Having explored the high northern realm of the island, we headed to the middle, where fog hung on the ridge but the crater was still bathed in sunshine. In a moment of inspiration we pointed the car towards the sunny peak of Bejenado, with the best views looking into and over the crater. The semi-circular 11 km hike started at the end of the gravel road (or at least as far as our rental car wanted to drive) and meandered up and up in to the beautiful green pine forests which carpet the middle slopes of La Palma. The whole hike was a joy. Have I mentioned I love pine forests? The deep blue sky, orange pine needle path, bright green trees, and the forest-fire blackened trunks made for some delicious contrasts. It's little wonder that my favorite colors are green and blue...the green of spring leaves and the blue, blue sky.
But don't worry when I say blackened trunks...I think every pine tree in La Palma has survived a fire at one point or another. Then they regrow new needles and carry on.
Reaching the peak brought another delight, the whole semi-circular crater opened up before us. Our return route was along the ridge, with more gorgeous views and finally overlooking La Cumbricita and the edge of the crater cliffs. From there we descended through more pine forests (how I love them) along a quiet carpet of pine needles. It seemed a classic route and well worth it for the views...but much, much better on a sunny day. We noticed that many other days the peak was shrouded in cloud and wouldn't have been nearly as nice, so we got lucky there.
Hike #32 in Walk! La Palma hiking guide. Although this guide doesn't mention the alternative descent along the ridge, which is clearly marked on the trail except for a key intersection back down near the fireroad. Almost perfect. Walk #15 in Walking On La Palma does show the alternate, but this book has worse maps and a very boring style of writing route descriptions. I didn't use this guide much because it was such a dull read. On the other hand, it gave good descriptions and was small enough to fit in a pocket.