I experienced a bit of an epiphany today. I was deep in the mountains, enjoying the great outdoors, the intense scent of the earth, the occasional cloud of floral scent, the sun burning down on my neck when I realized that my usual thought would be, “oh my, the Portuguese people are so lucky to be able to enjoy this all year long” , when it struck me that instead, I was thinking, “oh my, I’m so fortunate I get to live like this six months of each year”.
What an incredible day it turned out to be. Best laid plans of mice and men comes to mind. I ended up going on an incredible hike with my friend Harald, who has introduced me to so many wonderful new trails this year, and it’s not over yet!
Today was the Don Quixote Trail, 20 kms. Simply breathtakingly gorgeous. Our highest point was 611 meters above sea level. A beautiful river, flowing with water, which is not always the case here, windmills, both old and new, orchards and vineyards, four tiny villages nestled in the valleys, cork forest, pine forest, and all the wonderful scents that come with that.
This was our first marker. We parked under the shade of an old carob tree then headed towards the tiny village of Casas Baixa.
Magnificent wind turbines gently purring all along the mountain ridge.
This bundle of twigs had been gathered either for firewood or another project.
Mama protecting her baby,
We started off our hike with this flock of sheep, grazing on the sloped hillside. Very curious.
Shortly into our hike we came across these two pairs of sneakers hanging from the tree. An omen??
Off in the distance, we could see many windmills, most of them gently whirring. They had the air of gentle giants watching over the landscape.
We eventually hiked right beside these on the trail you can see.
Orchards of umbrella pines dotting the hillsides and offering a wonderful scent.
Harald, ahead of me as I am always stopping to take photos of flowers!
More of the windmills.
The mountainside, the forest floors, and even the dirt path we walked on were dotted with all kinds of flora, in various states of bloom. I was in heaven with some of the things I saw today.
I think this is heather but am not certain. The hillside was full of it, various size bushes.
A close up of the last plant.
One of the tiny villages we eventually found ourselves in. For the most part they are populated with just a few people. One of them we spoke with a man who told us the population at present is 5!!!
Harald enjoys these excursions as much as I do. We make a great hiking team and both take pleasure in simply breathing it all in.
You can see the height of some of these plants up the mountainside.
I’m not at all certain what this is but it’s certainly about to bloom any day. I thought it might be wild peonies but not convinced I’m right.
Another of the villages we eventually arrived in.
The roadside was dotted with clusters of this lovely purple/blue flower. I can’t find the name of it.
I found one single wild gladiola!!
Also, one single wild poppy.
This old stone wall and small orange grove, was just on the outskirts of a tiny village.
These are about the size of a penny and they cover the forest floor in places. They are so prolific at times that Marc and I call them Portuguese snow!! as from a distance it truly looks like a covering of new fallen snow.
The Gum Cistus are starting to bloom.
At times it felt a bit surreal to look forward and see the tiny dots of villages we knew we had to eventually walk through and then suddenly, we found ourselves looking back at the tiny dots of villages we had passed. It was a reminder at times of how much territory we were actually covering.
We stopped at this river for our picnic, it was probably at the half way point. The sound of the burbling water was peaceful as we ate in silence enjoying the moment.
Another section of the river off in the distance. We skirted it in our walk.
There were many bee hives scattered throughout the walk. One of them was in a huge field of Tomilho, wild thyme.
Lavandula viridis, commonly known as green lavender or white lavender, is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, occurring naturally in Spain and Portugal
White heather, the scent of this one was intoxicating to me. I smelled it long before I spotted it.
This grew all along the pathway in huge clusters, about an inch or so off the earth.
How can the colour and design of this not move you?
l always like to look back at where I’ve walked.
The gum cistus, bursting out all over the hillsides.
My selfie…….as I walked……..pooped at this point but happy
An suddenly before me,a field of yellow lupins. I did my happy dance.
I thought this was an iris but I was told it’s actually called barbary nut and the flower only opens for half a day!
Yellow lupins in a field of wheat that was probably once a huge pasture but is now overgrown with wildflowers.
More barbary nut
The trail, as you can see, changed in topography quite regularly. You can see the huge clumps of cactus in the right corner and off in the distance.
Our final destination just a few kms away.
This lovely cluster of grasses and blooms cascaded down the side of a long abandoned wall.
We were now very close to the end of the hike (and our energy). Our picnic long since forgotten and burned off!!!
And as we started our journey with a flock of sheep, it seems only fair we end with a flock of goats!!! The shepherd sat off to the side and gave us a friendly wave and hushed his dog.
Now if that’s not a “kiss my ass” expression and pose, I don’t know what is!!!
Such a variety of colours
I quite liked this spotted one.
And here is the final stretch of our outing.
Part of the old abandoned village
Still full of charm and beauty.
A fitting shrine at the very end of the hike.
What a day it was. We were both well worn and tired but elated. The drive home was relatively quiet and reflective. The mountain route seemed a little more winding that when we drove it in the morning, a sign of the fatigue and elation I think.
And finally, we arrived home. As I walked toward the gate to the quinta I had the distinct impression I was being spied upon. I stopped to have a look around………