The checklist for this trip is a bit longer than usual: food for three, a sizeable tent, clothes for all seasons, two headlamps, slack-line, a football, playing cards, frisbee, hammock, maps, a handful of children’s books (including the wonderful Outside: a guide to discovering nature), and SPF50 PA+++ sunscreen. A catalog of must-haves when you’re taking an eight-year-old kid and a dog on a trip like this. We could barely contain our feverish excitement, teetering on the verge of anxiety. And not for nothing: there was a new pair of boots that I had yet to break in, not a whole lot of practice with trekking poles, the prospect of three days without a proper shower, and a first time up in the mountain for André. He seemed raring to go though! He would need that energy too, from Ermida to Pico Borrageiro there’s a difference of over 700 meters in altitude.
The journey kicks off at first light, while it’s still cool, as the weather report informs us that we’d be stretching our legs under a baking sun later in the day. We had walked a meager three km when we came across our first obstacle: the Arado cascade, one of the largest waterfalls in the Gerês National Park. A crowd had flocked there, as the road is just a stone’s throw away. It seems everyone is up for a road trip. A couple of minutes was enough to catch a glimpse of the surroundings and get back on the trail. After a couple of hours, we arrived at the Teixeira cabin, where bulky oak trees loom large in the meadows.
A team of Garranos, Gerês Wild Horses native to northern Portugal, were there to welcome us. Five striking specimens and a colt that make that meadow their home. And what a meadow it was!!! The grass seemed to invite us to munch on it, and there were a handful of small ponds to bathe in and while away the hours of scorching heat. We all go in without a second thought. The sun had begun to sag when we restarted our walk. Lunch had been filling enough to get us through the next few hours along a steep path that would eventually lead us to the day’s destination.
The trail is demanding indeed: plenty of loose rocks, not much shade, and as steep as it gets. André is panting and his tired legs make him trip over the jutting rocks as his feet cry for mercy. But after a short break to hydrate and rest, he picks up the walking sticks with relish and throws himself back on track, eager to reach the top. He means business. Up and away! Up and away!
Just a few meters short of our destination, we come across a freshwater spring. Coi seems to have guessed we are nearly there. We fill up our canteens and move on to the hard task of finding a three-meter square of flat ground, free of rocks, roots, and the like. Pico Borrageiro (1430m) offers what is probably the most striking and sweeping view of the region, as well as a comfy patch for our tent and an unforgettable end to our day. Dinner is ready. The rock is set!
Photography & Words by Diogo Tavares
Edited by Marion Garnier & Bis Turnor