Jim, the Ole Mountain Goat?

edited December 1969 in Activities
Anybody knows if he is still around, the spirit is still out there..Walk through a giant til forest( Madeira Bulletin, September 1979,
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Anybody knows is this is still a nice trip? )For many good walkers, of a full half dozen different descents from Pico Ruivo, perhaps the most intersting way down from this highest mountain in madeira is that to Faja do Penedo.
This walk,close to 20 km., ist the longest one can be recommended for a day?s outing. The bus connection from Funchal to faja do Penendo (fare 72 escudos) is at 4 p.m. but it does not arrive antil 7:45 p.m. It?s wise to start from the abrigo or shelter, at Pico Ruivo about 8 a. m. After teh necessary overnight stray there, for the trip is longer than the better-known, more frequently used route to Encumeada. A century ago it was the only way across the mountains from Curral das freieas, and only by a prodigious labor over a long period was the track hewn along a rocky green cliff. For the future rapid transit to north coast villages a 3-km. Tunnel is to be dug near there through Pico Furao, and the preliminary work has begun.
As it is advisable to hire a guide from the Tourist Bureau at the time of booking overnight accomodation, I will not describe that part of the main trail to the turn-off at the Torrinhas Pass ( for lack of space), except to remark that a superb scenic view of the Sao jourge and Santana north coast side can be seen by scampering up a very few paces at the crest of the rigde enroute. As you start out,remind the guide to show this to you. Also bear in mind that none of these trails are maintained, so beware of catching toes in exposed roots or meeting up with fallen trees.
The point of departure from the westerlytrail to Encumeada is at Torrinhas Pass, which is on the northerly junction with the broader trach down to Curral das Freiras. It is a narrow footpath reached before some upward stone steps, visible just beyond, on th emain westery route. After turning southerly to the right into this grassy footpath there are two rigth and left zig-zags to a goat gate, below which the path broadens into a track. (Make certain to close goat gates, as there?s a fine for failure to do so!) If you reach this point by 10:30 a.m. you?re on schedule.
Proceeding through a semiopen woodland of heath and yew one gets glimses of the St George and Torrinhas Peaks on the left, while behind is a massive basaltic cliff to east of the Torrinhas Pass you?ve entered.
For a long way you?ll walk along an almost level route, viewing far-distant mountains in th edirection of Porto Moniz, overlooking the top of the valley deep on your left through the occational breaks in a forest containing giant ti? trees of still virgin growth.
At one of two short upward stretches there is a left-to-riht zig-zag turn where one must avoid following the watercourse found near the start of the trail A few streams come out of deep glens as one gradually descend descends on a wide, rightwinding track around intermittent open bends above the forest of til - with the mountain close above on rigth and the valley deep on the left. Just before teh great valley widens, two spire-like needle peaks of baslatic rock rise on the left. As you turn, take a look at the magnificent amphitheatre of peaks behind you.
About an hour and a quarter after leaving the goat gate at the top of th epass you should reach a green fern-crested knoll with a plasent wiev of the mountains along th ecoast and framing fields before and below - a great spot for lunch! Approximately 2 and a half - hours of descent rmain fo rup to now it is little.
After leaving the this place you come to the long cut hacked out of the mountain wall ages ago, now overgrown with moss protecting the wayfarer from the rigde of the deep precipice on th eleft as he descends this uniquely spectacular, uneven but solid rock. It?s a forest-cald cliffside!
Reached about two hours from the top of the Torrinhas Pass is the sacond goat gate, gravity set to close against the downward side. After going through the gate th epath turns left to a rigde immediately showing on the right a very steep gap into the opposite valley far below. DO NOT take that direction, before a large til trunk, but turn left and follow an ancient stepway among the til trees. This leads through a short right-left switchback into the worts scetion of the track. DO NOT follw the watercource hrer, but cross it to the right to stay on the trail.
Shortly thereafter the deterioted path continues on a rain-worn ditch of uneven ground streched amid rocky steps of uneven rises and declines in an almost furrowed, rain-gouged rut. Woodcutters paths begin to converge at sometimes bewildering angles. Continue downward direction, generally at right-angles to most of theese otherwise confusing side trails. Finally this difficult stretch goes into a few zig-zag turns eventally swinging into a wide open meadow. From the bottom a levada can be seen.
The levada is quickly spotted if th eweather is clear - A ribbon og water coming out of teh forest far below on the right, easterly side. In about twelve more minutes the levada can be crossed at the base of more switchbacks through a semi-forested glade. From here to faja do penado is little more than an hour. After passing three or four houses and storage sheds for fodder one reaches a brigde before a scoolhouse within a dozen minutes.
Cross the brigde an go over a second, flat-slab brigde to enter the hamlet of Falca de Cima. Here is where sweetmeats and spare clothing can be eagerly used if you brought some. Make certain not to cross another brigde toward the east, over a stream below on right. Within six minutes you?ll reach Falca de Baixo, next poor hamlet. A wide dirt road leads to a high iron-railed brigde. Beyond this there is a sidetrack on the right up a flight of cobbled steps going arount the uptrust shoulder of a hill. Just below the brow on the opposite side lies hidden - at last - faja do penedo, the ultimate objective! The Bus stop is in front of the church.
Jim, the Ole Mountain Goat
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