Caminito del Rey. Or ‘The King’s Little Pathway’, is a walkway, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales in the province of Málaga, Spain. The name derives from the original name of Camino del Rey (King’s Pathway), abbreviated locally to el caminito. The walkway had fallen into disrepair and was partially closed for over a decade. After four years of extensive repairs and renovations, the walkway re-opened in 2015. It has been known in the past as the “world’s most dangerous walkway” following five deaths in 1999 and 2000.
And yea, I stole most of that paragraph from Wikipedia.
So, we’re in Málaga Spain. Nikki is out wandering and comes across a hawker selling tourist trips, one of which is the Caminito. She thinks “great!” and calls me up to verify my excitement before purchasing. Which is where it gets weird. For you see, I have a terrible phobia of heights. And the Caminito is a walkway that is attached to the side of high cliffs, with only a view of your death spot below.
Now Nikki knows I have this fear. But as she’s talking to the person with the tickets, she starts feeling like it’s something easily conquered. The call went something like this:
N: They said it had a barrier on the side now so you can’t fall over.
R: Uh huh.
N: And they said kids do the trek all the time, it’s perfectly safe.
N: So, you want to do it?
R: You do realize that a phobia cannot be cured with a safety net and a hard hat, right?
I was Googling the Caminito as she was talking. Under the Images tab. What the … ??!! There ain’t no way on even the pain of torture of all those that I hold dear that was I going to walk along a three foot wide ribbon of fear, with only a poorly installed little fence between me and the point of impact, 300′ below. No. Fucking. Way. Period.
Which of course only served to self-ridicule my manliness.
I pondered. I sweated. She waited. Time passed. And finally I asked …. do you have an extra Xanax?
And so, I agreed. I did take that little white pill of courage. And walk the Caminito I did. Which was a little strange, for the pill she gave me was the equivalent of a baby aspirin. A placebo to someone my size. And yet, I bounced on that path. Hung over the edge. Somehow believing that I was protected by Big Pharma. I had a hoot of a time.
The new path is indeed safe. The hard hats are required. For the sides of the canyon are anything but smooth. Things jut out with such hidden precision that your noggin continually whacks them. The path is around three feet wide. It is bolted to the side of the cliff, and there is a waist high chain link fence thing keeping you from becoming one with gravity. And right below it is the old path.
I get why it was once called the most dangerous hike. It was narrower, and the concrete had fallen away in most places, leaving just rusted rebar to walk on. Nothing on the side between you and air. A cable hung in places for you to harness on to. And no amount of “Duuuuude” pills would have helped me with that. But I’m glad they left the old, for it was truly a sight.
The hike is actually half solid ground and half fear. It’s long and the day was hot. Southern Spain is a cooker. And we didn’t bring enough food and water. Our bodies were not keeping up with what our minds wanted to do. So, lesson learned there. Hydrate!
The final parts of the trail are a swaying “rope” bridge across the canyon to the other side, which almost caused me to just live on the east side permanently and never cross. But once over, we only had a gazillion feet of metal stairways to walk down, that were also semi-attached to the cliff wall. 🙂
It was actually a great adventure. One I thank Nikki for. One I’m glad I got out of my own way and accepted.