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Published: September 14th 2008
During our excursion to Altea, the program director pointed out a town a little ways up the coast named Calpe, that had a huge rock towering out over the sea. He mentioned that it was a fun to hike up to the top of this rock where you could see amazing views of the entire Alicante province even including Ibiza on the clear days. Eager to get out and go hiking, I made a plan to hike up the Peñon de Ifach that upcoming Saturday. I asked around to see if anyone wanted to come with me but aside from a few maybes, I couldn’t get anyone to commit definitely. And so, not about to back down on a perfectly good hike on a beautiful day I made the decision to go by myself. It would be an adventure. I set out with my backpack and my hiking clothes on and boarded the train to Calpe. After dropping off a tramload of british and german tourists at the concrete nightmare that is the seaside resort of Benidorm, the tram continued northward fairly empty. The tram runs along the coast and the views of the Mediterrean were absolutely stunning. I got to
pass by some very large, very beautiful vacation homes that were located right on the ocean. Arriving in Calpe, it was obvious that it was a tourist type town, but an upscale tourist town(apart from the small strip of high rise hotels along the beach) with beautifully landscaped homes dotting the hillside. My first setback occurred when I disembarked from the Tram and realized that I was a good 2 mile walk out of the town center and another mile or so from the base of the rock. I didn’t mind the chance to stretch my legs a bit and get a close up look at some of the beautiful Spanish homes. Arriving at the town center, I realized that I wasn’t quite sure how to get to the base of the rock but I figured if I went in the direction of the beach I would eventually be able to make my way to the start of the hike. I followed a street with the most people which led me straight into the depths of the Saturday morning market, packed shoulder to shoulder with eager shoppers trying to bargain their way down for the leg of ham (I didn’t
Peñon de Ifach
Walking towards the rock I hiked ip
see any of the black foot though) or filet of fish or pirated knock off Gucci purse. I pushed my way through the crowd, keeping a tight hold on my belongings until I finally managed to escape the mayhem and end up on the main street leading down to the beach. The beach was absolutely gorgeous with crystal blue waters, and not as crowded as some of the other beaches I had seen but filled with a more family type crowd. I walked along the beach boardwalk, admiring the scenery(minus the numerous topless women who need to realize that after a certain age no one wants to see that) until I finally encountered some signs leading me to the visitors center at the base of the rock. I started up the steadily steep but wide and fenced in path which zig zagged back and forth. I was all gung-ho, marching forward and thinking to myself, “Everyone coming down looks awfully tired, those out of shape city folk are trying to venture out into the wild again.” I was mildly concerned as I wasn’t sure how the path was going to make it to the top of what appeared to be
Excited for my adventure
a sheer cliff face in front of me but I had heard that there was tunnels and so I continued confidently forward, exciting to be out on a hike for the first time in weeks.
I came to the tunnel and was surprised to find that the gravel changed to spiky, slippery rock. In the tunnel there was a rope to hold onto for support but I refused to use what I saw as an aid for those in weaker and worse shape without my superior sense of balance. However, all of my hubris was promptly destroyed when I reemerged into the light of day and encountered a path, no let’s call it a small foot wide ledge, that made the Cliffs of Moher look like child’s play. You know its bad when in Europe they have huge signs warning against continuing on without proper footwear or physical ability. My ambitious pace slowed to a crawl as I tip toed from rock to rock trying to not look down at the sheer drop beside me or noticed the fact that the rocks were so slippery they glistened and shined in the glare of the sun. 45 minutes passed and
The easy part of the hike
I was drenched in sweat, exhausted, and only halfway to the top. But GFD, I had come this far on my adventure, I was going to make it to the top if it took me all afternoon. The words turn around and give up do not exist in my vocabulary. Did I mention that during my climb up the side of the rock, the little kids and old men who I had looked down upon earlier as physically unable to do the hike were passing in fact passing me and offering tips of advice on how to get safely to the top. Finally, after much hard work and nervous glances down, I arrived at the top where I wolfed down my bocadillo while taking in the amazing view. My legs were tired, I was covered head to toe in dirt, but I had made it to the top of the rock! Coming back down, I improved my dangerous rock ledge hiking skills and slowly picked up my pace until I could almost keep up with the pregnant women flying down the path in front of me. I t was quite the experience and after chugging a liter of water at
the nearest convenience store, I treated myself to a well earned, relaxing hour on the beach. (Where, thanks to the large amounts of British tourists I was not the whitest person there). Walking the (long) 2 miles back to the tram station I got lost again but being alone forced me to use my Spanish and ask directions (Which I actually understood!) Finally back on my way to Alicante, I took a much needed nap on the Tram, exhausted from my adventure up the Peñon de Ifach.
Tot: 1.425s; Tpl: 0.06s; cc: 10; qc: 48; dbt: 0.0267s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb