Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pico de Arriero

The cab driver we met up with on Madeira offered to drive us to any place we wanted to go during our stay on the island. He seemed very knowledgeable and his English was very good, so on our third day we booked him for a trip to hike Pico de Arriero (second highest peak) to Pico Ruivo (highest peak).

Unfortunately his van broke down the day of, and he had to reschedule us with a different driver. This new guy was fine, not as talkative, but he would take us to the peak and pick us up 4 hrs later on the other side of the mountain. We drove up to the peak where he explained how beautiful and lush the island used to be, before a forest fire burned most of it away. Great....

Past the burned fields and forests, through wild eucalyptus trees, everything ringed by light purple and blue agapanthus flowers, he kept talking about the forest fires. I was getting a little disappointed and worried that the hike, which I had only briefly researched, was going to be a bust.
Top of Pico de Arriero
But it was amazing. The hike and the views were breathtaking. These pictures really don't do justice to the distance you could see. Most views showed the ocean at the very end, with valleys and peaks between. The wildflowers were amazing, they even have my favorite flower, the foxglove, growing wild along the hills.
Valleys to the sea

Mike enjoying the view

Wild flowers, sheer rocks, and mountains

Portuguese bee, hard at work
We got to the mountain early in the day, trying to beat most of the tour groups that we thought would 'clog' up the trails. There was one group of Australians that we stuck with most of the hike. The 'Mike' from their group took this picture after both our groups decided to take the longer route around the mountain. It was a pretty steep climb. At this point all of us were very out of breath from the kilometers of stair stepping we had to do over the boulders and up the trail. The whole trip was about 12k from start to finish.
It was especially good to get out early so that the clouds, which come in from the sea in the afternoon, were not out, giving us a clear view.
Mist starting to roll in

More mist rising
Wildflowers near the top of the mountain
Burned trees from the wildfires
View to the sea and villages on Pico Ruivo
It was very interesting at the end of our hike when we got to Pico Ruivo. There was a small house and many people walking around, but we couldn't find the taxis. We figured it had to be there somewhere, but we just couldn't see a road! Finally we found a guide to ask and he said it was still another mile away, down another trail. We had to speed walk to make our pick up time, but we made it! 

Down and up and up and down

An amazing climb!

No comments: