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Reisverslag The World's Most Dangerous Hiking Trail
12 april 2014
The World's Most Dangerous Hiking Trail
Do you get to those points in your life where the only thing left to do is ask yourself: why the @%#$ am I doing this?! Here's mine: Why shiver on a 1 cm mattress in an ice cold tent, sleeping bag pulled closed till only the nose escapes the down padding, if you can also sleep in a bed underneath a pile of fluffy blankets? Please check the appropriate box below:
A) You are a self-depriving masochist that enjoys a little suffering.
B) You grossly miscalculated the outdoor temperatures
C) You groosly miscalculated your travel partner's remark that he'd bring all the camping gear.
D) This lifestyle allows you to visit a remarkably amazing place.
E) All of the above.
Ah yes, that why
Well, it might or might not come as a surprise, but I found myself in the E-section. B - little silly not to realize but it happens. C - the culprit travel partner was Javier; yes, that very same one as from ‘One arm and a half'. D - the remarkably amazing place was the El Chorro canyon: it doesn't matter if you're a hiker or a climber or just a mere sight-seer stepping out of your rental car, this place is gorgeous and huge and steep and wild and you should go visit. As for A - there's really nothing I can say in my defense, just accept and love me as a lost cause, and don't try to change me as many have failed before you. The main reason for ending up in a chilly tent on an uncomfortable mattress was the same as always: climbing. El Chorro is famous amongst us rock dwellers for having lots of climbable rock in hugely impressive landscapes, and all that within walking distance from the camp site. Enough so for Javier to leave his natural habitat of the pre-Pyrenees and venture all the way down to the south of Spain on a student budget. And who am I to disappoint a loyal climbing partner? So off we went for a little adventure.
The world's most dangerous hiking trail
Your need to knows: In times long gone, this trail used to be an ancient escape route for the king, halfway up a vertical rock face hundreds of meters high. Basically, someone ancient craftsmen suspended a bunch of metal beams, and stuck some stones and mortar between the beams and the rock. Sounds bad? Well, it gets worse. Today, the path is in bad disrepair, with countless holes, abundant rusty patches, and even entire two-meter slabs of path missing. As a safety precaution the authorities have demolished the beginning of the trail. Which stops every sane person, but not us climbers. But mom, things weren't as bad as they seemed: a brave soul installed a metal security cable, to which we could fasten ourselves with our climbing equipment. So off we went, with a bonus of post-rainfall slipperiness. But boy oh boy, did I already tell you I have a fear of heights? It already started at the first step: we had to step from protruding metal rod to protruding metal rod, steep rock in front, distant voids below. Little did I know that after having crossed this section, I had to shuffle sideways on a narrow metal rail, hands balancing on metal cable with a deep nothingness between me and, well, everything. My oh my, chicken me it was. Apparently my face was a bit ashen, much to the hilarity of ever supportive Javier. Luckily, after having crossed our initial obstacles, the path eased a little on us, with only the occasional vistas beneath our feet, while right next to our feet it was still a long lunge down. Additionally, the rest of the way the concrete never gave up its crumbly image. That was the scary side. On the bright side: what a unique place to be, so high above the canyon's river, surrounded by rock and air and nothingness on all side. Exactly the reason I scrape together every bit of money so I can travel! After an hour of too much picture snapping, we hit the halfway section through a forest. But after some scrambling around, enough was enough for one day, there was more climbing to do. So we retraced our steps, hopping over the wholes in the path, over the missing sections and balancing from protruding rod to protruding rod, until we had our feet firmly on solid soil.
The path was all fun and games but not our biggest reason to be here. The primary goal for Javier and me was to climb a few routes. As my right shoulder was still medium functional and the weather medium predictable, we started with a huge cave in a 200 meter high rock. Impressive to the innocent bystander or not, this area had some routes with simple up-and-down climbing options. To our delight, Floor and Ingrid even joined in for a little fun: Jungle Jane points earned girls! Easy did it, and the shoulder was feeling better than I had dared to dream. So the next day we set off for a half a day climb - consider it a vertical walk with only one exit option: up. Blissfully ignorant Javier and I scouted about and found the start of the route. Then several things happened. 1. The sun went away and the temperature dropped to 12 C. 2. The wind speed went up to piercing. 3. The route was not as easy to find as I'd hoped and a total sandbag (harder than the guidebook suggests) at times. Less fun for sure. Now I know I'm quite a sissy where it comes to cold. But honestly, I haven't rattled my teeth every this loud in my life. And my poor limbs were literally shaking visibly. On the bright side: I could still hold the rope (and so did Javi I hope), we kept our good humor, and slowly but steadily shivered our way up the route. But nothing some hand picked wild asparagus with manchego cheese couldn't fix!
After having enjoyed my share of climbing adventures, the girls were kind enough to pick me up for a hot shower and some last days of relaxation. And before we knew it, we were harshly torn out of our new habitats and solidly instated Spanish rhythm. Time to dream about the next trip.
Well reader, this is it. On the brink of hopping on a plane, destination Corsica, it is time to wrap up the Spain Intermezzo stories. I'll miss writing you. And I do hope you'll miss reading me a little as well. So long, and don't forget to visit Andalusia one day. You won't regret it, I promise.
Foto's bij verslag (1)
12 april 2014 22:51 | Door: Irene
Hee lieve Geiske,
Ik las een paar dagen geleden in de Columbus een stukje over dit pad. Leek me super tof, maar heel eng en ik hoopte maar dat tegen de tijd dat we er aan toe zouden komen dat het met wat EU geld ook voor de niet zo heel stoere ziel toegankelijk zou zijn. Wat een held ben jij. Klinkt super eng, maar tegelijkertijd ook weer super tof! Jaloers dus toch.
Veel liefs Irene