São Paulo / Minas Gerais, July 2010 – Pico dos Marins – Itaguaré is one of the classic traverses of the Mantiqueira – mountain range, in the borderland of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. It passes through high montane tropical and seasonal rainforest and altitude fields (campos de altitude).
I felt relatively good prepared, when Bianca, her nephew and me tried this hike in July 2010. I had knowledge from the wrong signposts, the locations of the only 2 water sources and most of the itinerary was saved on my GPS. The remarks of the local guide at the Marins base camp that many of the available GPS trails from the internet would not be very accurate, I didn´t take too seriously.
We left São Paulo in the morning, reached the base camp in the early afternoon and climbed the same day up to about 2.000 height meters where we set up our tent for the first night, already in the dark. I remember that it was difficult to find a suitable spot because the terrains is pretty rocky and steep and hard to find a plain underground.
The next day we climbed Pico dos Marins (2.400 m), a 500 Ma heavily eroded volcanic root, took some pictures and continued immediately in direction to Marinzinho and Pedra Redonda which was when the “punk” started. So far, despite of some minor problems, the trail was pretty clear because during the years many try to get up Pico dos Marins and either stay there for one night or return the same day.
Apparently the traverse to Itaguaré was much less frequented and for about 2 km we couldn´t find any trail at all, it was difficult to advance through the hip – high kind of Andean grass growing up there and the GPS served merely for knowing where was north and south. When we finally reached Pedra Redonda at about 9 pm, I was so fat and irritated, that I smashed my 95 liter backpack that always got caught somewhere, against the next rock, which unfortunately meant the end of one of my lens.
Despite having started with 8 liters of water, the morning of the third day just 1 liter remained for three people and 3 1/2 to 4 net hiking hours left until the next water location! Even with the heaviest backpack, I tried to leave most of the water for Bianca and her nephew and remember that somewhen I started to get the first halucinations, a clear sign of severe dehydration. My biggest concern was that the only available water hole we were heading to, might have become dry. Fortunately this was not the case.
As we reached Itaguaré already in the early afternoon, we decided not to stay there for one more night but to descend immediately to the Itaguaré base camp (big mistake!). It was the moment when the local guide from Marins, who warned me of the wrong GPS internet data was proven right. Still in the upper Itaguaré part, the GPS lead to a 300 meter vertical rock wall where for sure we would have crashed if we would have continued there and in the lower part the trail suddenly ended in the middle of the rainforest. As we couldn´t find any continuation despite searching for one hour or so, we almost would have set our tent there, when suddenly Bianca´s nephew spotted a small rainforest trail head about 100 meters above our location.
We continued this trail for about 3 hours, most of the time in the dark, with headlamps, until finally reaching the Itaguaré basecamp at about 10 pm. The next day we still had to walk for about 5 hours on a dusty sandroad until reaching a small village where a nice local gave us a lift to our car. Somewhere in this nowhereland a small dog appeared behind us who didn´t seem to belong to anyone there, nobody ever had seen him, nobody wanted to care for him, so we finally decided to take him with us to São Paulo in order to find there a new owner. Well, I guess this was just wishful thinking, her name is Trixy and she lives now in Ilhabela.