Ilhabela has peaks that are higher than anything in the U.K. at just under 1400 metres The only peak that has a clear trail to it’s summit is the Pico do Baepi, so I wanted to walk it for a number of reasons. Firstly it’s my daughter’s eighteenth birthday today so I wanted to do something contemplative, secondly I heard that someone paraglided from the summit recently so I wanted to check out the possibilities for my next visit and thirdly I am now having a healthy holiday after a week of ciggies and booze every night so some exercise to re-jig my body is in order.
I got up early and out of the house by 9am, so by the time I caught the bus to the neighbourhood of Itaguaçú where the trail starts the sun was just climbing and getting warm. There is a grass hill that is at about 200 metres altitude where the trail starts properly, it already felt quite high and the view is was crisp in the morning sun, but it was good to dive into the rainforest where the air is cool, the noises intriguing.
I haven’t been exactly exercising regularly recently so my ascent was pedestrian, but still a lot faster than the 3 to 4 hours quoted by some sources around here. There were a few different stages to go through on the trail. The grassy hill at the start of the trail reminded me of a Terrence Malick movie, grasses waving in slow motion against the backdrop of the Brazilian mainland behind gave an exaggerated depth of field. There is a transition of messy scrub that you almost have to dive through to enter the clear paths of the Rainforest. The rainforest is cool with so many noises and little distractions, plants that cling to trees, trees that cling to rocks, a canopy overhead cathedral like. Next is the bamboo which gives way to some almost vertical slippery climbs where ropes have been attached to help out. Then the summit.
From the top you get to see a carpet of trees, the lungs of the world sucking in Carbon and pumping out oxygen. It is instantly obvious how stupid it is to destroy these lungs, but in the universal scheme of things we’re smokers gambling with our health.
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Rather surprisingly you see the west of the island but not the east, but this in some way simply puts you in the island rather than on it.
I met some wonderful people at the top. Sandro, Thompson, Tiago and Juliana had brought a guitar, some home made bread and bites to eat up the peak and proceeded to entertain with some Brazilian songs and a few written by Sandro and Thompson. We joined hands and shouted that we were all love, energy, luck, we shouted this joyfully to the universe or perhaps to the swifts pivoting in the air above us.
After a while at the top they invited me to visit a waterfall, so we descended together and took a short drive up the coast to yet another of the islands 400 or so ‘cachoeiras’. We dunked ourselves in the water, the friends larked about and joked their way though a perfect afternoon. When we were ready to go Tiago was lovely enough to drive this spent body back to the vicinity of our cliff top house where we waited for Ligia to come back from teaching in Sao Paulo.
A perfect day.