Until recently, the hiking path named “El Caminito Del Rey” (“The King’s Little Way” in Spanish) was widely considered to be the most dangerous in the world, though it was not originally designed to be a hiking trail. In 1905, the boss of an engineering project decided to connect two nearby power plants, by way of a maintenance path. The walkway, less than a meter wide, clings to the side of cliffs with one-hundred-meter drop-offs. In the beginning, the path was safe enough for local school children to walk. The King of Spain at the time even came for a little hike, giving the trail its name.
However, people stopped using the path in favor of other routes, and the maintenance on the path stopped. What made this walkway so dangerous was that most of the wooden guardrails rotted away, making the four-hour trek down the thin path a deadly balancing act. Several hikers died over the years.
Because of this, the Spanish government closed the path down to the public for many years. Recently, though, the government decided to renovate the old walkway, since it did offer some of the most beautiful mountain views in all of Spain. In 2015, the renovation was completed.
Now, every inch of the path is hugged by sturdy guardrails. It has been deemed 100% safe, 300,000 people visit the new, safe El Caminito hiking trail every year. The average visitor still reports that the hike is thrilling, and even frightening, at points. The government— not wanting to completely rob the path of its thrilling reputation— made a section of the trail out of hardened glass, so that hikers find themselves standing on a floor with a clear view down to the deadly canyon floor. Now, hundreds of thousands of people can enjoy the spectacular mountain views that the trail has to offer, without the risk of anyone getting hurt.
(1) Why did maintenance on the El Caminito path come to an end?
1. The power plants were closed, and worker transportation was the reason
the path was originally built.
2. The path was so dangerous that even maintenance workers refused to
walk down it in order to make repairs.
3. People chose different ways of traveling between the two power plants,
meaning the path was less and less used.*
4. World War I drained the area of its maintenance workers, who had
been drafted to do work on war-related structures.
(2) What made the El Caminito path so deadly?
1.Casual hikers went to the trail without knowing it was dangerous, as it
maintained its reputation as a safe pathway for decades.
2. Broken planks: the heavy foot traffic of school children’s thick shoes,
combined with the worker’s boots, began causing planks to break.
3. The area was prone to sudden thunderstorms, which brought strong
winds to the trail, occasionally blowing them off the trail.
4. The rotting away of the guardrails that were originally along every
inch of the path, preventing people from falling to their deaths.*
(3) The government decided to renovate the old pathway because
1.the power plants were reopening, now as nuclear power plants, and
workers would need to use the path again.
2. it offered some of the prettiest mountain views in Spain, and would
likely attract many tourists, if it were made safe.*
3.the King of Spain commented publicly that the pathway was an ugly
embarrassment to the country, and needed to be fixed.
4.there was a heritage conservation prize being offered in 2015, for Best
Renovated Hiking Path, and Spain wanted to win.
(4) How did the government keep a bit of simulated danger and excitement alive on the new, safe pathway?
1. It used a hard glass material for sections of the path, giving hikers a clear
view, one hundred meters down, to the canyon floor beneath their feet.*
2. A flexible material was used for sections of the pathway, giving the path a
shaky feeling as hikers walked.
3. It made the path rise and fall in areas it previously had not, giving the hike
more of a roller coaster feeling.
4. In place of guardrails, the government used tightly spaced rope in
sections, to give a slightly less stable feeling at hikers’ sides.