Such a simple-looking word. Two syllables, accent on the second. Roll the R. The S sounds as SH. Neither of us, even Roger who can roll Rs, can pronounce this word well enough for a local to understand what we are saying. When locals say it, it sounds like nothing I’ve heard before.
Gerés is a village in the national park of the same name. Guidebooks say there are hiking trails there, but poorly marked, poorly mapped, and difficult to access without a car. We decided some reconnaissance was in order.
First, yesterday we visited the Tourist Info in Braga to get directions to the Park Headquarters. They gave us directions, but said the Park Headquarters was just offices with no services to the public. We went anyway and found a service desk, a park map and a couple of trail guides in Portugese.
Today, we went to Gerés. Because this was just reconnaissance, we took neither food nor water and no sticks. The bus left us in the center of the village with nice mountains all around.
Roger started walking up the steep road out of town with me complaining that we weren’t prepared to hike. Sure enough, he found the marker for the beginning of a 10 km hike, which we would have time to complete before the return bus, sticks or no sticks.
We immediately lost the trail. As we were looking for it, we hooked up with two German girls who had found a map of the trail, which I took a picture of.
We found the trail again and went steeply up from Gerés. The woods were beautiful.
As were the boulders and vistas.
The trail was even relatively flat for a while.
There was recent snow near the trail, but not on it.
It was a “Pinch myself, can life really be this good?” feeling. Everything had come together just right, including the weather, to make a perfect day.
Then we began to suspect something was wrong. We couldn’t find trail markers. Roger looked at his GPS and the crude trail map and thought we were on trail. I looked at the GPS app on my phone and figured we weren’t. Thank you, Steve Jobs and MotionXGPS for saving us a lot of hurt. We only added about 3 miles to our journey–in effect, three sides of a rectangle instead of the one we missed.
We also found a spring to drink from.
Back on track, we faced a steep descent down to Gerés. The bald spot on the skyline is where we started down.
This is looking from that spot down into town.
The Portugese don’t mess much with niceties such as switchbacks. It was as if we were tumbling down the mountainside like rocks. I didn’t get any photos while I was hanging onto Roger’s shoulders to keep from falling, but did get a couple before the steep part.
We got back to Gerés with plenty of time for some ice cream. We asked where the bus back to Braga would be and were directed to where a bus was sitting, but no driver yet. As we waited by the bus, a local lady walked past the bus, down the hill a bit to a bus stop. We went there, too. Sure enough, the bus we had been waiting by was the wrong bus and we would have missed the right bus had this lady not come along.
So all’s well that ends well. We had an unexpectedly great day.
On the return bus, Roger snapped this lifelike crucifix.
Entering town, we found this community laundry still in use. Water is diverted from the steam.
The rectangular depressions are soap holders.
The “stairway to Heaven” photo somehow didn’t upload to yesterday’s post, so I’ll try again.
Tomorrow 200BC iron-age site.