Climbing and more climbing

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March 16th 2018
Published: March 16th 2018
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Today, my mom and I climbed Monte Brasil. I'll get to that in a minute. First, I went to bed at 5 PM (!) last night and slept until 6:45 this morning. It was great! I was up for almost 36 hours so it was much needed. Breakfast is included with our room and it is a buffet with all kinds of goodies. They have: cereals, eggs, bacon, beans, croissants, muffins, breads, tarts, cakes, fruit, cheese, meats, jams and then tea, coffee and some kinds of juices. If you can't make a hearty breakfast out of some/all of this, then you have a problem. I enjoyed some fruit, a croissant, a chocolate cake and some muesli. The juices seemed to be watered down versions of orange and pineapple. But I did have a green tea that is grown and processed in the Azores and it was delicious.

We left the hotel, stopped at a market to get some water and apples and then began our trek up Monte Brasil. Monte Brasil is the remnants of a tuff volcano that became a fort, military base and a nature park. Today, there are remnants of the fort that date back to the 16th and 17th century and there is still an active military presence so parts of the park are restricted. Everything I read said the hike was easy to moderate. We think the Portuguese idea of easy to moderate is quite different from our idea of easy to moderate after climbing around this park! On the plus side, the trails are well marked with painted symbols telling you which way to go or not to go. On the negative, these signs do not indicate if there is a steep uphill or downhill climb involved. We learned there are lots of both!

Our goal was to get to the top, which is at 205 meters. The hike started out on a nice paved path that turned to dirt. At one point, the directional marker pointed to a very steep path that we figured was not the way we needed to go. We were wrong. The nice even path came to a dead end and we had to turn around. Back we went to the very steep path where we encountered some ladies who had also decided this was the only way up. And so, we went. I didn't think my mom was going to make it, but she did after stopping several times. In her defense, I had to stop several times as well. Eventually, the path leveled off and we found the picnic area. We rested and had a snack while deciding if we would continue on. First we said no, we didn't want to walk up another steep hill. Then we saw the same two ladies who said it wasn't much farther to the top and it was nothing like the first climb. So on we went. It wasn't as bad and it was worth it. From the top, you get some really great views of the city and out over the water. If it was a clear day, you would be able to see two other islands, but it was cloudy so those were not visible. We headed back to the picnic area and spotted a small group of deer eating their lunch. Most of them ran off as we approached, but one started walking right towards me! They must be used to people.

We then decided to take the trail to one of the smaller forts and the whale lookout. It looked easy on the map.
Steep pathSteep pathSteep path

Here's one of the friendly ladies walking up this very steep path!
The map was wrong! The path on the map did nothing to point out the very steep descent across rocks that turned into a path about as wide as my two feet side by side that was also very steep and not smooth. We said no, we aren't doing this and turned around. We had to go up the way we came down, but it was preferable over not knowing how much farther we had to go and what the terrain would be. I don't need to ever do this kind of a hike again!

Eventually we made it back to the picnic area and then followed the road back down to the city. So yes, the initial walk up to the fort is fairly easy, but the rest is not. You can drive a car up to the top, but we don't have a car and we wanted to walk. I sound like an old person, but my hip hurts and my feet hurt!

By this time it was probably around 2:00 so we stopped at a cute cafe for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised to find you could get a bowl of soup, a plate of meat with rice and potatoes and a drink for only 5.5€! What a deal! When the lady started piling the meat on the plate, we decided to each get a soup but to share the meat. It was a wise choice as I could not eat that entire meal by myself. We also got some pastries to bring back to the hotel for a snack.

And so our day of ups and downs has finally come to an end. I'm happy to sit out on the balcony, listen to the waves (it's really windy today) and give my feet and legs a rest. It was a nice day for walking, 64ish degrees and partly cloudy. Now it's mostly cloudy and the wind has really picked up.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Mom at Pico do FachoMom at Pico do Facho
Mom at Pico do Facho

Finally at the top of Monte Brasil!

16th March 2018

A great first day! The real comment this time
I accidentally submitted my comment without making it. The harder-than-they-said hike is something we are very familiar with. Happened to us in Riomaggiore, Italy. But you did it, both of you! It looks very pretty and relaxing--when you are not into serious exercise. What is the time difference from home?
17th March 2018

Its only a 4 hour difference. They have not had Daylight Savings here yet. That happens after we leave. I was afraid I would fall out of bed this morning but I didn't
16th March 2018

Those are unusual looking deer. You will have to research them. I wonder if they are a species distinct to the Azores.
22nd March 2018
Fort remnants

Looks like some of the mainland forts in "Sharpe"
A BBC TV series I am watching. It also is getting me in the mood for my trip to Portugal in June. It's lightweight, but I'm picking up some vibes on Napoleon and history we get little exposure to here. That is why I am enjoying following your blog. (You've done a great job in spite of the app's shortcomings.) Also, your experiences bring back some of my own, like the difficulty of hiking on volcanic islands for us lowlanders!

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