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A hard day at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

A hard day at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

The wind was blowing tremendously strong intensifying the wind chill effect and the fog was preventing us to see more than 50m ahead.

I knew the summit Almanzor was not too far from the point where we was standing but we were still missing the most difficult part to climb.

The team was not prepared to overcome such a difficult task and, on top of that there was no point to continue.

I knew everybody was eager to reach the top … we were so close …

“THAT IS IT GUYS … WE HAVE TO RETURN”

It’s hard having to “stop the fun” especially when I knew that everybody had traveled from so far away to climb this mountain but I know today that was the right decision at that time.

(one day earlier)

I can’t say the day before was sunny and with a blue sky, was not. Was kind of foggy day but good enough for a ice climbing introduction and I had the opportunity to explain all the techniques I was supposed to and, at the end was a wonderful working day.

We spent the night at the Refúgio Elola, the local mountain hut and I remember the substantial dinner we had, was something like a goulash in a Spanish way, whatever that is.

The climbing day was supposed to have better weather but Nature has its mysteries and during the night the Gods might had some disagreement in between them.

I slept regularly, in mountain huts I never sleep deeply but the fair amount to rest. Anyway, inside the mountain hut one cannot have the perception of the weather outside.

We left the hut around 5am, just before sunrise. It’s always better to start walking with hard snow.

There was no way to see the clouds and or to assess the weather for the next hours.

Around 8am the weather was already giving us a hard time and we was right before being exposed to the most severe area, we was about to be at the north face of the mountain, the windiest part.

Half an hour later I had all the team tide up to a rock, all prepared to climb the last section but there was when I realized the team couldn’t continue and you know the rest.

I’m joining a picture of the place but with god weather so you can understand where was we 🙂

The mountain is still there so we will try another day.

David Monteiro

 

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A hiking adventure at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

At 110 Km Norwest from Madrid you will find the landscape of the book “For whom the bell tolls” from Ernest Hemingway and a perfect location for a hiking adventure.

If I remember well, I read the book “For whom the bell tolls” when I was 18 years old or something like that. At that age I was far from imagining that one day I was going to lead tours there or even to climb to its summit, the Almanzor.

When I read the book I was fascinated by the description of how the earth shacked when we made love with Maria, I admired the strength of Pilar and I could only imagine the mountains landscape in my dreams. One have to realize that back then there was no internet where I could go browse about Gredos, the closest thing I had was the local public library and there was not many books about such a place.

Anyway, this mountain range is like a mini Alpes, it really looks like it but in a much smaller scale. With its snowed granitic needles and its “U” valley one have the sensation of being in much higher mountain.

The highest summit is the Almanzor with 2,592 m (8,504 ft). If you want to know more about the origin of the name Almanzor, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almanzor

Sierra de Gredos is a lovely place to go for a walk, both during the winter or summer time.

Although during the winter is usually completely covered with snow, the walk from the parking area called Plataforma until the mountain hut Elola is well marked and there is always quite a lot of people doing it, especially during weekends.

But if you want to climb to the Almanzor summit or similar, you better know what your doing or hire a mountain guide. I can’t remember how many time I climbed this summit with clients and quite often we find people in trouble during the way up without proper guidance … please don’t do that.

Just the walk until the mountain hut is already a wonderful memory and in the mountain hut you will find something very important: beer 🙂

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Hoyos del Espino, Spain

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Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do

Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do.

I’m a little nervous about writing this post. “Serra da Freita” (Freita’s hills) is one of the places that inspired me to start this long walk to become a professional on Active Tourism and I do not know if I will have enough talent in the art of writing in order to fairly reward this site.

However, I feel that this blog will never be complete if it does not have some something written about Serra da Freita.

I’ve done a lot of hiking in the hills area, repeating the same and doing many others that I never had the opportunity to repeat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Serra da Freita” is also an area where I did many other activities besides walking such as climbed, canyoning, hydrospeed and rafting not far from 

here. However, this being a blog of walking, I will confine myself to this theme.

The translation of “Serra” is hills or small mountains and we often use the word “Serra” for the name of a short mountain area. Here I will be writing about Serra da Freita as well as about Serra da Arada.

Frecha da Mizarela

201208Freita (76)This waterfall, with more than 70 m high, is the business card of Serra da Freita.

Is part of a system of cascades that as a whole exceeds 90m high. This beautiful waterfall landscape and the vision of many other smaller waterfalls is what we can expect when we walk in this area.

Ribeira is a small village that lies at the foot of this system of cascades and the trail that goes along this watercourse could not be more spectacular. Here you will find many small ponds where 

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DSCN1717When we walk from Ribeira to Mizarela we can choose between walking along the watercourse as I mentioned or, from a certain point, choose a little “detour” and climb (very easy climbing) some rocks on the right side of the waterfall Frecha da Mizarela. Is a low-difficulty climbing but that of course always requires some care.you can bathe in the crystal-clear waters or simply enjoy showering at the waterfalls.

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All the people who made this trail with me felled in love for place, is without doubt a fabulous  hike.

This trail requires us to cross a small pond so we better have our swimming gear with us and a nice pair of rubber sandals.

It’s so fun to walk this trail that nobody forgets it.

A rock giving birth to another rock

Talking about a rock giving birth to another rock looks like we are talking about the “Lord of The Rings” saga but this time it’s really true.

There is a rare geological phenomenon which results in the granite rock releasing some crystals that will form new chunks of rock. Apparently, this phenomenon can only be seen in two places in the world, near Castanheira, a village in Serra da Freita and somewhere in Russia. I do not know if whether there will be other places but as much I investigated there is only these two places.

It is very interesting to see the new stones because they look like flattened black eggs and on the mother rock you will find kind of a nest where the “baby” rocks was formed.

See the translated version of Wikipedia at: http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedra_parideira

Tungsten mine – Rio de Frades – Cabreiros – Tabelião

DSCF2925Rio de Frades (River of Friars) is a small village deeply marked by what used to be a tungsten mine.

The tungsten mine’s, today in ruins, began in 1914. This metal hardens the ammunition and makes them more resistant.

These mines belonged to a German company named “Mining Company of North of Portugal”, drilled more than 6 km of holes along the river from where they extracted this rare metal to be sold during the first and second world wars.

Nowadays you will only find its ruins and a small highly stratified village, as it was the standard way of living in those contexts of mining communities.

The river with the same name as this village, has fabulous landscapes hidden in its valley. Small turquoise lakes and astonishing cascades are only accessible using the techniques and knowledge to do so.

Walking along the trail from Rio de Frades we will arrive to Cabreiros a charming village with lovely stone houses, a typically village. From here we can go until Tebilhão on bucolic trail, flanked by granite stone walls.

From Póvoa das Leiras to Covêlo de Paivô

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After the stone houses of the village (Póvoa das Leiras) there is a trail that leads us to a stone platform path that goes almost until Covêlo de Paivô, downhill always at half-slope.

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After this long walk we will arrive to Covêlo of Paivô, but not before crossing a large natural pool … a bath is “compulsory”. The crystal clear water with small fishes makes us feel like it should be in paradise.Despite not having any proof, this route appears to have been a work of

Romans, is one of those trails that one must put on the list of must-sees.

Arouquesa beef and goats from the hills

IM000090.JPGThe sighting of grazing cattle when we walk is always an interesting moment and here these moments happen often because breeding is a strong source of income to the locals.

Around here we can find mainly cows and goats.

The arouquesa cow breed is highly appreciated and its meat reaches high values on the market is.

Arouquesa cows are docile animals with a candid look and with an impressive pair of horns that easily awakens your deepest sense of respect.

Goats are also very numerous and abundant are also the products t

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hat this animal provides us such as the milk to do goat cheese … nhummy 🙂

Covas do Monte is another small village with an interesting particularity: is has about 75 inhabitants and we can find here more than 2000 goats coming out every day in the morning to go graze on the hills, a spectacle worthy of seen and living as a shepherd for one day.

Gastronomy

IM000213.JPGThere is no place in Portugal about which there is not a lot to talk about gastronomy and this area is no different.

I would like to point out two typical dishes: Serra da Arada lamb baked in wood-burning oven and the roasted aroquesa veal.

They are both, of course, dishes based on products of the mountains such as the veal aroquesa, the lamb, vegetables and other products, both worked with the traditional techniques and equipment as the wood-burning oven, trays and platters of clay and slowly baking the meat to be tender and without losing their juices and flavors.

Of course the wine we drink around here is the Dão doc but on this spectacular wine I’ll write a post one day.

Are you willing to meet the Serra da Freita and Serra da Arada? I hope so:) Here I am to go walking with you in the Serra da Freita and share these wonders.

David Monteiro

Location: Arouca, Portugal