Part Two: Hiking Cliffs in Portugal
I definitely didn’t think today I’d perch on the edge of the world and contemplate my own death. Sit there, with my legs dangling freely over a weathered cliff giving thought to my immortality…
But what else do you do in these situations?
Luckily today wasn’t to be that day. I was very much alive, breathing, feeling, seeing, and letting that salty air inflate my lungs from the two limp balloons they felt like. With a 100 metre drop into the sea far below me, my heart beats a little faster, I breathe a little deeper, and am thrilled to be experiencing this place – far from the reach of your modern day tourist.
We’ve earned the views today, having hiked far off the beaten track using our hands, our feet, our legs, our brains, to help navigate a switchback trail of loose rock. We’ve been guided into the wilderness by a big-spirited and humble American called TJ, who wants us all to experience the same peace and joy that he does when enjoying these remote hideouts.
He shuttles us from this one remote destination to the next, ensuring that between hikes we are seeing the best of the Portuguese countryside, and getting diversity in our adventure. Blues music and rock and roll blasts full volume on the journey, and we barrel towards a new location with the windows down and the sun on our faces.
Rachel makes us a gourmet chocolate sandwich in the backseat for added energy, and I’m sure we drive the fellow ramblers nuts with our giggling and weird antics.
We’re seeing scenery like no other here. We spot lines of quarts glittering between slabs of rock, a visual display of the heat and pressure ever-changing this floating rock beneath our feet. We stare in awe of the strange and awesome honeycomb rock patterns and speculate how they were formed, and try our hand at identifying different wild plants – expanding our foraging knowledge and vocab: wild lavender, wild rosemary, wild garlic, and what I could only remember as the ‘gin plant’ [Juniper berries are used to produce gin].
Most of all, we challenge each other to find the best possible viewing spot of the day and grow our adventurous spirits. TJ of course wins the battle. He takes us to a wild and remote rocky outcrop and proceeds to unpack a picnic from his rucksack. Wine, cheese, bread, hummus – is there anything this man can’t do?
As the sun melts knowingly into the wild Atlantic, we sit in silence and personally question ourselves on why we don’t do this more often.
This is living.
- See here for booking information, of follow the West Coast Adventure Company on Facebook for more info on hiking Portugal.