We were 13 kilometres into a 20 kilometre walk on the second day of a six day hike across La Gomera, descending down a slippery and rocky path in the Garajonay National Park, when a familiar twinge ran from my left knee to my brain.
“O oh,” I thought, knowing how much further I had to walk today and that I’d be walking again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. I adjusted the knee support I’d bought specially for the trip on the recommendation of a friend and continued to descend the forest path, every steep footfall jarring another flash of pain. Another adjustment to the support so that now my left knee looked like it was about to rob a bank and hey presto, within a few hundred metres the twinge had disappeared.
Over the next five days we notched up over 100 kilometres of La Gomera’s toughest terrain and not once did the knee complain again. When we arrived at our final base of San Sebastián de La Gomera I even abandoned the support and hiked, naked knee’d, around the headland, up and down barrancos and across boulder-strewn dried up river beds without a single twinge. My knee and I were grinning expansively as we boarded the plane to take our leave of La Gomera.
Despite being seasoned hikers, Jack and I had never walked for six consecutive days before, and particularly not on terrain that we already knew to be tough. Having a friend who has lived in Los Aceviños for the past 16 years we were no strangers to hiking on La Gomera and knew that in many parts it was akin to trekking in the High Atlas Mountains which we enjoyed last year. So when Inntravel sent us the itinerary for their walking in La Gomera holiday that they wanted us to update and amend, we knew we were in for a challenge. What we didn’t know, was that we were in for such an incredible week.
Staying in rural hotels in three different locations, every morning began with a healthy breakfast and a shot of strong coffee to see us on our way. Then we’d lace up the hiking boots, pack a picnic into our rucksacks and either stride straight out from the hotel on a circular route or take a taxi to some distant, remote spot and begin our hike to the next destination while our bags continued to the next hotel in the taxi that had disgorged us.
Walking an average of 15 kilometres a day we scaled the sides of steep barrancos, skirted their rims on paths that bordered the Garajonay National Park on one side and looked out over vast vistas of palm studded valleys and rugged ravines to the glittering Atlantic Ocean and the awesome presence of Tenerife‘s Mount Teide on the horizon. Down skittery descents we trekked; through the dank rain forest populated by lichen covered twisted limbs of ancient laurel trees; across vertiginous ledges and lush valley floors.
In the midst of swirling clouds we hiked, barely able to see the plunging ravines we sensed we were skirting until we descended below the cloud line and the world came back into view. Buffeted by strong winds, touched by the icy fingers of the forest and kissed by the hot sun we walked the soil of La Gomera, watching its landscape morph from rain forest to desert and cactus prairie to palm grove.
Now I’m back at my screen and I miss the challenge of a new path every day and an unknown destination. I yearn to slip on the hiking boots again and set out with my world, lunch and my knee support in my rucksack. Sometimes, this job is just amazing.
Buzz Trips was walking the Hidden Gem of the Canaries holiday on behalf of Inntravel
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+