Thursday, April 24, 2008
Hiking Villa Alhue
Villa Alhue is surrounded by mountains of the coastal range. On Tuesday, C and I decided to explore and hike up into the one closest to the village. It is a cirque-shaped (kind of wrap around mountain ridge) and our plan was to head up through the center and climb the headwall wherever it looked most feasible.
There was no path, but we followed an animal trail as far as we could. Brother's cocker spaniel followed us. We kept expecting the pup to turn back but he stayed with us through thick and thin.
Eventually the animal trail dwindled and we headed up through increasing steepness using different landmarks for a guide--a rock for a while, or a cluster of brush. The top was always visible because there were no trees. We scrambled up through terrain that we did not want to go down. Our hope was that when we gained the ridge we would find a better way down.
The sun was beating down on us and I was pretty dizzy from the sun and the exertion--but then disaster struck. As we climbed the headwall we entered an area of solid yucca. With no way to get down our only hope was to go up despite the shredding of our skin. For a while it was possible to use the exposed roots for support and only get slightly cut up but eventually we got to a place where the roots had been burned by a lightning strike or something and we could no longer depend on them and had to use our hands and legs on the spiky yucca plants themselves.
We were both dripping blood and on our last bit of strength when Charlie said he saw a tree ahead that was on the ridge. With a tree to give me hope, I focused on that and we made it, collapsing on the top. The oranges in our backpack rejuvenated us enough to really enjoy the spectacular view. We shared our water with the pup that had stayed with us through it all.
As C had hoped, from the top we were able to find a much better route down the mountain. We made our way back to Villa Alhue dirty, bloody but very happy.