Finally! Clear enough weather to hike around the rim of the caldeiras! Two lakes, the green and blue, fill the two holes left by extinct (I hope) volcanoes. We had been waiting patiently for the perfect day, and on Friday, August 1st, it dawned.
Arnie, Martin’s crew, joined us and the three of us set off to conquer the trail. Well, we set off.
Potentially a 4.5 hour hike, you can leave your car at the beginning of the trail head, hike around and then down to Sete Cidades, the village between the two lakes (with a smaller lake close by), and return by taxi to your parked vehicle; or, you could hike part way around, reverse, and hike back; or, you could hike all the way down to the coastal town of Moisterious taking a cab back to the car; OR, you could hike all the way to Sete Cidades, reverse, and hike all the way back. Or, you could just start and decide later. Get the picture?
We decided to start and decide later as it was a beautiful day, not too hot with clouds covering the sun enough to cool us off.
The first part was a steep road,
one where Arnie, who had trained with an army ranger a few years back, tackled while talking. I just breathed.
We made it to the top of the rim, then took the side path to the very top where, yes, we took the obligatory ‘we did it!’ photo.
You did feel you were on top of some thing
with views galore.
We stopped for a picnic lunch, where Max found some not particularly pleased-to-be-photographed hikers.
Finally, I got hold of the camera.
We spotted some familiar seascape, the dramatic monoliths rising out of the ocean off of Moisteiros,
as well as Bessie contentedly munching on Azorean grass.
Other items found included remnants of the original natives,
with Max proving two heads aren’t always better than one…
Finally, we arrived at the end of our hike (deciding not to continue onto the coastal town of Moisteros) in Sete Cidades where we dunked a bit, Max and Arnie more than I as both had swim trunks and/or extra clothes.
Both Max and I remembered we had done this hike in 2002 with Chris and two other cruisers; but, all of it was vague with only a few landmarks spiking our memories, one being this grassy area next to the lake. Yet, we still weren’t convinced because we also remembered our ending spot in 2002, sitting on a bench sipping beer while waiting for a bus; and, we couldn’t find anything similar in Sete Cidades.
With a bit drying in the sun, we headed for a treat at the lakeside cafe.
Then, it was how-to-get-home time. We were hoping the bus sitting next to the town square would be our chariot but, no. The driver, though, offered to call a cab, which was hugely appreciated. By now we were looking forward to stopping walking. He returned saying our ride would be here in ten minutes.
Thirty minutes later, we’re still waiting with Max standing under the reserve the cab sign just to be sure we were the obvious waiters.
After the thirty turned to forty, we thought we should try again. So, Max stopped in at the restaurant across from the sign and returned saying a taxi would be appearing within five to seven minutes. This time, it was closer to the stated ETA.
The three of us piled in and were dropped off at our car after being severely admonished by the driver NEVER leave our car where we left it. (We had driven to the start where our guidebook had indicated.) Evidently, crime does occur here, although, as a tourist, it feels particularly crime-free in the Azores. Probably because you think everyone knows everyone, making it difficult to get away with anything.
But, all was fine and the car untouched. With that, we waved good-bye and piled into our car to head home.
While exiting onto the main road we saw a young woman with a heavy backpack studying a map. We rolled our windows down to see if she needed a ride (having experience now with frequency of rides and knowing how far it was to a village we were sympathetic to carless hikers). Turned out she was figuring out a way to get to a village on the north coast, thinking she could always walk or hitch there.
We convinced her it would be easier to grab a ride with us, so she joined our pile and we pointed our car towards the north.
During the ride we discovered she was a biologist with a PHD studying climate change at a university in South Africa. Originally from Portugal, she had arrived just that morning for a week in the Azores. The purpose being to celebrate a friends’ tenth anniversary.
Within twenty minutes we had dropped her off in the center of Sao Vicente, and then headed home for real. All in all a day wonderfully spent.