Friday, February 5, 2010

Pedra da Gavea

I finished the Intensive Portuguese Language Program for Foreigners last week so I am now on summer break and Carnaval is just around the corner! I have been participating in lots of pre-Carnaval activities that include large amounts of dancing in the streets and dressing up. While these are all very fun, the highlight of my summer so far is hiking up Pedra da Gavea.

Pedra de Gavea is one of the highest points within Rio and is the most difficult urban hike. So naturally we decided to climb it on one of the hottest days of the year. But at least then we'd be safe from rain which turns the steep trail into a small river, right? Wrong. Our plan was to hike up in the evening, see the sunset, spend the night up at the top, see the sunrise, and then hike down the next day. The hike was very steep and included lots of vertical rock scrambling, but we made it up in just over two hours before the sun set. The view from the to is absolutely amazing. You can see all of Rio de Janeiro, the Christ Statue (I think we were even higher than the statue), Sugerloaf, and far out into the ocean.
The beginning of the trail, and this was the easy part...

The view of Zona Sul of Rio de Janeiro

We could see lightening in the distance which made the view even more beautiful and awesome. Soon the storm headed our way so we retreated off the top of the mountain and down to a small cave we had seen on our way up. It was too dark to attempt descending and with rain the trail becomes a small river anyway, so we spent the night in the cave with a strong storm blasting the rocks and trees above us (Thank goodness we weren't in California or there might have been a fire! Tree burning was definitely happening.). Luckily we stayed completely dry from the tropical thunderstorm and were only a bit cold, nervous, and unrested. Early the next morning we went back up to see the sunrise and were blown away by its beauty and our survival of the night.
Our cave and band of happy adventurers!
The moonset and sunrise.

We were back down by 10am and ready to sleep the day away. It was quite an adventure and we bonded a lot as a group, you have to when you're spooning in a cave on the side of a mountain during a thunderstorm in order to stay warm and telling stories and asking questions in order to keep your mind off the situation! All in all, worth it and I appreciate my thin Brazilian mattress much more after attempting to sleep on a rock!

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