Never prejudge a hike. Wednesday’s hike was full of surprises. We thought we would be traipsing across open areas, then climb up to a cliff face. Ha. After a bit of easy, level walking midst strange foliage, we were plunged again into a green, wet, surreal “underworld.”
Although the weather was mostly good, it had rained the night before, so everything was dripping wet and there were many puddles on the trail. Mosses and lichens were everywhere. One stretch was essentially a lava road. The rocks were small, so going was almost as easy as a gravel road.
Then we came to an area where the next trail sign was in the middle of a significant flooded area that reminded me of a Louisiana bayou.
I thought we were doomed, but my experienced navigator found a way around and so we continued. We passed several water falls, each time praying we would not be forced to turn back.
Our second major obstacle was another flooded area. The only safe thing to do was to take off our boots and socks, then wade through. Fortunately, the water was not super cold, and the bottom was relatively smooth, so this was a minor inconvenience.
Finally, we got high enough to have some views. I had not realized we would be walking the rim of a caldera. As I looked down at the level green vegetation below, I was no longer fooled. I now knew there was another world beneath that innocent surface.
In one place along the rim, the trail was so steep that metal grating had been installed on the ground as tall steps, and there were heavy ropes for pulling oneself from step to step. Even Roger had to use them.
These steps brought us to a plateau from which we could see to the ocean, and we could see that we weren’t to the top yet, so another hill to climb.
After more walking through deep woods
and some dark steps,
we suddenly found ourselves at the edge of a totally flat field with the cliff to one side.
The trail went between the cliff and a drainage ditch, but there were hydrangeas along the cliff edge. The views across the caldera were spectacular. The cliff to the left is the one we had just traversed.
From here back to the starting point, the trail was as mundane as we had thought the whole hike would be. While we were relieved to be certain we would not have to backtrack everything we had been through, we were certainly glad to have experienced the best part.
To round out our day, and our week of hiking Terceira, we visited an stretch of road with grooves made by ox cart wheels. There were narrow grooves made by pre-1810 wheels with nails, and wider grooves made by later wheels without the nails.
Such grooves are the focus of the two hikes we didn’t have time for. Our experience tells us, though, that those hikes have some surprises, too.