SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
Waterfalls in Madeira
32° 44.2’N x 16° 43.9’W
Free day! After hearing rave reviews about a hidden wonderland in Queimadas called Caldeirao Verde, aka the Green Caldron, many of the students could not wait to take a hike in the mountains of Madeira. Our friend from the Whale Museum had left us to ponder in excitement what sort of “wonderful surprise” was waiting at the end of the trail. Thanks to some great hints from Ryan and Scott, who went the day before, we knew to get into some swimsuits. With our suits on and a bag lunch in hand 16 of us, Alex, Rudi, Maya, Sophia S., Sophia J., Adam, Becky, Mih, Maggie, Devin, Greg, Alyssa, Courtney, Amie, Jennifer, and myself, gathered on the dock to start our journey, beginning with finding transportation to Queimadas.
After reaching what had become our common hang out of Madeira, Café Chicago, the clerk helped us call for four taxis. Within ten minutes the taxis came and we were on our way up the winding roads of Madeira. When we finally got to Queimadas it seemed we were at the top of a mountain. The weather had also changed dramatically into a damp light shower instead of the partially sunny day down below, but none of our excitement phased. Everyone simply pulled out their raincoats and continued on to the beginning of the Green Caldron path. Courtney, being the Southern Gentleman he is, even noticed that Sohpia S. did not have a raincoat and offered his own, saying he would be fine with his fleece. Be proud Mama Moore, he’s a good one!
Trees, bushes, and moss surrounded us, and the air smelled crisp and sweet. Along the edge of the path, an aqueduct ran from the beginning to the end. Starting our trek we noticed the trail was a little muddy with some puddles. Remembering one of Elliot’s main rules “Protect your feet,” we all tried to avoid any doozies of a step. Later on this would become progressively more difficult with the narrowing path and growing number of puddles. About halfway there most of us had simply given up trying to keep our feet dry or free of mud. Entire sections of the path were below a stream of water at times and our shoes were already soaked through. Nevertheless our excitement only built as we got closer to the big surprise. We heartily stepped in puddles like little kids on the sidewalk. Every now and then we would even pass under small waterfalls on the side or cross over some beautiful waterfalls, enjoying every minute of the sight. The small shower had probably also increased to an all-out rain, but nobody noticed partly out of the already wet nature we found ourselves in and because it simply did not even come across our minds. In fact the rain, puddles, and walking below waterfalls made the entire trip that much more memorable and amazing. This was in itself a unique sight to see that was made even more spectacular by the clouds covering the mountaintops and valleys down the side. The path alone created a new flare as it eventually narrowed down to just the wall of the aqueduct right on the side of the mountain. Looking to one side you had the grand wall of rock towering above and to the other you could look straight down into the deep valley below. At a few points we were led through what we called caves for which we needed to pull out our flashlights. Our new found habit of repeating every call we hear came in handy during this period as the caves would get lower and people might bump their heads. In some caves we took shelter to rest and eat a small snack from our lunch.
Finally as we neared the end of the path and the great surprise waiting for us there was a section completely below a waterfall pouring over the side. A few hikers going back told us the current was too strong to cross, but that did not stop us. Looking at this obstacle, Sophia S. noticed the aqueduct still running along the side below a small ledge in the side that protected it from the full force of the waterfall. She suggested walking in the aqueduct since we were completely drenched from the waist down so it would not make much of a difference. A few people did not want to risk it, especially those that had unfortunately brought their laptops in their backpacks, and so just Amie, Adam, Sophia S, Alex, Mih, Maggie, Maya, Becky, and I split off to continue the hike.
Only half an hour or so further along, the path led to a gushing stream that if you followed up was the home to two incredible waterfalls pouring over the side of the mountain. Water was coming down so hard that it was spraying up off the surface and swirling around the base. There was simply awe and wonder when looking at it and experiencing its raw strength from the wind pushing out to the thunderous sound as the water met the base. The green caldron mystified and shocked us in a way no other sight could. Once we had documented the place thoroughly with pictures and videos thanks to Sohpia and Alex’s handy gopros we began our journey back.
With an 11-kilometer hike behind us, clothes soaked to the bone, and smiles all across we piled into taxis again headed for Canical this time. We were in unanimous agreement that the rain and fog added to the journey. Unlike a normal sunny trip into the mountains this experience had character and would not have changed anything about it.
The only thing left to say is thank you to everyone who made this possible. Like so many other moments on the boat with SEA these memories will stay with us forever more.
Have fun out there,
P.S. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you so much and hope you got treated to a beautiful birthday. Talk to you soon