2020-02-17 @Travel

I finally hiked Pedra da Gávea, yet another tall peak of the massive Tijuca national park ecosystem in Rio. Among the officially deliniated trails of all the peaks in the city proper, this one tends to be advertized as the most intense.

Two to three hours each way is the expected time-frame generally set.

Part of the trail involves the standard, fairly sloped trek along the jungle, traversing rocks, coalescent roots, and steep gravel.

Part of it involves climbing steep rock formations.

And one particularly interesting portion, this a source of much anxiety and apprehension among the crowd, is the scaling of one notably tall rock fragment.

One can employ the assistance of guides, ropes, and grappling hooks available on the spot, for a fee, and opt to ascend along the flatter section of the rock. Or one can simply climb the scalier segment, this one respectfully abundant in cavities, indentations and ledges to grasp. This is what I opted for.

In sum, perhaps due to the high degree of difficulty I’d been led to anticipate, the resulting hike felt two notches simpler.

The reward is threefold:

  1. A spectacular journey in itself, in sight and sensation, provided you stay present. More on this follows.

  2. One of the more mesmerizing 360-degree views from the highest peak altitude. No photos provided, sorry. I hardly ever snap photographs these days, and never on hikes.

  3. Close to the base awaits a waterfall. Soaking in those icy waters I found limitlessly gratifying following that round-trip journey soiled with mud and pulsating with sunburn.

A few humble pointers I wish to offer to make such a journey maximally pleasurable.

  1. Again, be present. The hike is but an accumulation of individual steps. A vast majority of them, independently considered, need not inspire fear or apprehension.

  2. Each step is taken not across the fiery pits of hell, but through the Atlantic rainforest. Marvel in it.

    Along the way (and all throughout the Tijuca ecosystem), one encounters Jackfruit trees and other sensational growth, scents of tropical forestry, refreshing streams, monkeys, among other natural phenomena. One must merely pause and observe.

  3. Contrary to my generilized minimalist guide to hikes, do opt to pack more water on a hike of a magnitude such as this. I initiated the journey with a 1.5-liter bottle, which comfortably sufficed round trip and into the waterfall.

  4. Yet completely congruent with the minimalist guide, don’t fret too much about food.

    I arrived at the base of the hike at 9AM, having already walked a few kilometers just to reach that point from the nearest transit hub, nothing in my system but a tiny portion of black coffee.

    The body operates with mighty efficiency in a fasted state, and knows to channel the respective energy reserves. Were you to eat something ‘light’, on the other hand, as plenty of hikers tend to, I can (theoretically) imagine a greater struggle, the body no longer fasting, but on the cusp of deficiency.

    I didn’t consume the few modest items I’d carried until around 11AM, having reached the peak. And even this didn’t feel terribly urgent.

  5. Be playful. Treat the jungle as your playground. Imagine yourself as one of those monkeys, spiderman, Rambo, or whatever association that strikes your fancy.

  6. Tackle fatigue intelligently, not emotionally. Separate yourself from your inputs as means to psyche yourself out of fatigue. Analyze your body from an external perspective. Relate to the fatigue with humor.

Questions, comments? Connect.