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After a bad hiking day, the question was: "If Hiking were a horse that threw me, would I get right back on again?"  Next up, we were scheduled  to hike to the top of Mt. Xombourgo at the Eastern end of the island. This would prove to be an easier trail (at least it was used more by humans than goats), but also a seriously more vertiginous climb. 

It seems the US invented the idea of putting man-made steps and handrails in wild areas to assist the public viewing of forests and mountains.  None of that on Mt. Xombourgo.  A narrow path worn in the rock, sometimes with steps, sometimes not, coiled itself around the huge live-granite outcropping that was the mountain.  In some places the angle was quite steep, the path wet and slippery, the wind gusting to 45 mph,  with nothing at all between you and a tiny-looking village a hundred meters below, a village that was in fact only a slip and couple minutes of cartwheeling away.

My daughter got a very quick lead on me.  My wife had turned back at a narrow "stairway to heaven" that was as steep as the steps to a Mayan temple, but only about two feet wide.  Clouds moving quickly overhead, and the wind, conspired to make balancing on the narrow steps a real challenge.  The world fell away towards the sea on either side. 

Reaching an elevated grassy plateau, I met my daughter hurrying back along the path. 

"Snake," she said.   "In the path."

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Cydonia photo: ESA

This is the journal of David Ross
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