Maybe hiking a steep stone trail in the rain wasn’t my best idea. But it was my first afternoon in the Cinque Terre, and I wanted to get out there. So off I went climbing up and up and up towards the Madonna di Montenero Sanctuary high above Riomaggiore.
The light rain didn’t faze me. I know there’s a chance I’ll have a wet day or two on the Camino, so I’ve gone out walking every day – rain or shine. In any other year of my life, rainy days would find me curled up indoors with a good book. I laughed to myself. I was impressed with how much I’d changed my habits and myself in preparation for the Camino. There was another change that needed to take place though. I needed some uphill practice. Miles of walking on flat paved surfaces are not going to help me hike through the Pyrenees (which I must do on my first two days of the Camino).
So after settling into my hostel, I started up at 4:45pm. I saw just two women coming down during my forty-five minute hike up. They each had a pair of walking sticks. That’s when it hit me. I turned around and looked at the slick stones I’d just ascended. That’s not going to be fun walking down, I thought, wishing I had some walking sticks. I looked around but grapevines weren’t going to cut it.
I plugged ahead, deciding the walk would be worth it, and I was right. If you think the views from the Cinque Terre are amazing, hike a little higher. I’d post pictures, but am having some technical difficulties.
I took dainty baby steps on the descent. Stairs were done one at time. Watching only my feet, I thought of a few things to be thankful for:
- The residents of Riomaggiore who put railings between their property and the trail – something to hold onto!
- The patches of grass growing between the stones – much better to step there than to slide down the slick stones.
- The two girls who passed me as I was walking down. At least if something happened to me, I knew there’d be two people coming back down the trail that I could call to.
When I reached the bottom, I walk also thankful to have all my parts intact. No sprained ankle, no broken leg, not even a scratch. It would be devastating to get injured on these trails. Not only because I’m alone and far from home, but because then I wouldn’t be able to do the Camino. I’ll be much more careful here on out.
For those of you worried about my safety:
- Before hiking, I leave a note in my room as to where I’m going and when I should be back.
- If I can go with others from the hostel, I’ll consider it. But I do like being on my own schedule.
- The trails I’m taking are not back woods types of things. They’re pretty commonly used by tourists.
- The two trails that had the mudslide in October are closed. I’m not a rule-breaker, so will not be climbing gates to get to them.
- If I’m meant to die falling off a cliff into the ocean on the Italian coast, so be it. It’s a hell of a way to go, no?