Another yellow phenomenon of the Guadarrama Summer is the Great Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea), known locally as genciana amarilla.
Growing to 70-80cm high and found only above 2000m it is undoubtedly the dominant spectacle of local high mountain flora in July..appearing singly here and there among the rocks or more rarely in fields of hundreds such as the one near Collado de Cítores at approximately 2150m.
This Summer however there is another, more unusual, phenomenon to be seen in the heights of Guadarrama. Just where the Gentians are now flourishing, below this high col, there was a considerable band of snow perfectly observable from the Navacerrada-Cotos railway track until about two weeks ago. It has now disappeared but on Peñalara’s Eastern front, where enormous accumulations of snow build up during Winter-Spring, there are still several small snowfields present..
..however what really surprised me was the not so small snowfield in the Dos Hermanas area. It’s normal to find some kind of nevero here in June and even in early July there may be remnants..
..but what we have this year at the end of July is no mere “remnant”..it’s a snowfield with an extension of at least 2500-3000 square meters and probably a couple of meters deep at its maximum depth.
The surface texture of the snow, a centimeter or two of barely softened refrozen crystals even at midday, and the firm compactness of what lay below – this is what is known as névé or firn, transition states of snow becoming ice – added to the extension of it, all together it stirred something within me, triggered a subtle frisson, generated a sensation that i would normally expect to encounter far from Guadarrama at this time of year..when entering glacier terrain in the Pyrenees or even the Alps, an experience that i had not imagined this particular Summer would have in store for me..a sweet white surprise!