"... A different image than the ones I am used to, in a world where we are usually just the two of us ..."
The cover photo is not deceiving ... it really is mother and daughters on a snowy hill. A different image than the ones I am used to, in a world where we are usually just the two of us. And that is why taking the family to taste a little of our world becomes so fantastic. They like it because it is different and it feeds their soul, and we are filled with being able to share what we love so much.
It was no longer the first time we took them on a trip to Serra da Estrela… A few years ago we took both our parents and my sister and went to do one of the most demanding trails on the plateau, which we hadn't done before… What an adventure, comedy and even drama it was! A story to always tell! And so we are back to a promised snow getaway.
The team was assembled ... me, Jorge, my parents and Sara, my younger sister. All on the way to the highest mountain in mainland Portugal.
When we reached the plateau, we pulled the car over to the monument of Lady of the Good Star, where it seemed like a good spot for a first snow experience, in a much more natural and isolated environment from the typical rush of tourists to the top of the mountain. I put on my mother's mountain boots and jokingly gave my studs to Sara and distributed the piolets both, material used in the practice of mountaineering. My father, smiling, preferred to stay below and saw us disappear in the white robe.
The first reaction will always be of a visual nature ... the impact with the white landscape that once teemed with green and brown tones. And immediately afterwards we are surprised by the reaction to the touch, as we allow ourselves to sink in every step taken in that untouched mantle. As soon as they felt the snow under their feet, their faces immediately revealed the euphoria felt. A feeling that I already know well but that never fails to excite me the times I go there.
I love the magic of snow! From falling from clouds to accumulating over rocks, shrubs and trees ...
I like the feeling of purity and the way it shines in the sun, reflecting almost all of the solar radiation back into space. I like the way he plays with the landscape, molding and embellishing everything he touches. I like to contemplate its varied shapes and textures, which change according to the atmospheric conditions that gave rise to it. And it's white… so white that it amazes me by the contrast it creates with the rest of the naked landscape. It's cold ... but continues to blackmail me to wrap myself in it as I go. And even the sound created by the sinking of my boots in the snow makes me so excited and fun.
"... As soon as they felt the snow under their feet, their faces immediately revealed the euphoria felt ..."
"... The mountains could see us from a distance and we could see them ... And I would stay down here, smiling at his lips with his deeds and shapes."
The first steps on the snow quickly become less clumsy until we start to see them venture across rocks and snow slopes, proudly committing the ice ax who offered them help as they went. I remember their joy when they conquered small obstacles or when they climbed the top of small peaks, marveling at that remote but incredibly beautiful landscape. The mountains saw us from a distance and we saw them. The snow that was only at higher elevations disappeared between dots in the distance until it became just bare rock. And I would stay down here, peeking with smile on his lips his deeds and shapes.
I let them play in a world that I say is mine, in a world that makes me so happy and where everything makes sense to me. I felt full of love for sharing part of that world of mine with my princesses! A world also full of challenges and dangers as my mother realized when she ventured across a face of icy snow with a more compromising slope. It progressed by nailing the tip of the ice ax on the ice, but quickly found itself sliding down the slope to the rocks. And we were perplexed by the show and concerned with the outcome, we went to meet him. We soon realized that she was already laughing out loud and we too started to laugh.
With our eyes on the horizon, we went back up the plateau to meet new corners and challenges.
As little children, we climbed the snowy hill over and over again just to slide down the slope again. We laughed at each other and with each other, while encouraging an even more daring next descent. I was so happy for the euphoria and emotion that echoed on their faces.
Sharing the mountain and the snow was so good!
Where the snow accumulated, we used the enemy's deconcentration to shoot him with a snowball, which quickly became an authentic guerrilla… and the snow was thrown through the air again and again. We let out any laughs as we tried to escape the next shipment and the only thing that stopped us was our cold hands.
"... we let out any laughs ... and the only thing that stopped us was our cold hands."
"... a panoply of rock mountains, sprinkled with bits of snow that pile up on dark winter days."
Tracks began to appear in the snow, memories of games, and our footprints left deep marks, witnesses of our steps. Higher and higher, we saw part of the famous rocky slopes of the Pitchers and an expanse of terrain that we couldn't even measure.
Right in front, there are the stone towers that marked the top of our mountain, the one that is part of one of the three Pitchers is Shallow pitcher. The towers are the height of a person and, together with the small rocks placed on the ground, impossible to identify under the blanket of snow, create a design with a snail effect. I had already seen him on spring days. Now, only the towers reminded me of that place. The one that with its privileged view reminds us of a place of worship for our ancestors.
From here we see the small road that winds up from the Penhas da Saúde and dam of Viriato. The plateau seems to end abruptly just ahead and the brownish color of the landscape below reminds me of the knowledge of Meteorology, as it is a day of enormous stability, where dust and all pollution are trapped at that level. We, far above, see a perfectly blue sky, where we breathe fresh air. From there we contemplate the Slim pitcher, a huge rock formation that rises up to 1993 meters from the famous Covão d'Ametade, a small and beautiful plain of glacier origin where the Zêzere River "rises" after its waters flow down the steep walls of the Cântaro. We also managed to keep an eye on Fat pitcher. At the base of this is the most beautiful lagoon in the Serra da Estrela, in Lagoa dos Cântaros. And of course, the enigmatic Zêzere Glacier Valley, one of the largest in Europe, being an incredible vestige of the last glaciation season... A panoply of rocky mountains, sprinkled with bits of snow that pile up on dark winter days.
We went back to the car and the father who was waiting for us. We still praised for a little more snow, just a little more… so we went for a jump to the plateau on the other side of the Tower da Serra da Estrela. There, with steeper and more challenging snow hills, it was just letting the imagination take us for the best ... or the worst of course! Sara, Jorge and I would even go down side by side, just to see who was the fastest.
In the absence of sledding, we had simple plastic bags to help reduce friction. It is sad to know that a large part of these bags brought by people are left by the saw, as well as all types of plastic sledges that break along the way. It is disconcerting to the point of leaving me with a certain fury. I know how it is, in fact I already saw it… with the thaw in the spring, the whole region closer to the Tower and along the road is mined these plastics. Yes, the saw that everyone loves and wants to know is treated like a big dustbin, and why ?! I don't think it's even worth answering this. I know the correct thing ... everything you take is brought back and nature remains as it was, in its natural state, even though in these places it is never completely.
After a few more descents and even daring little flights we said goodbye to the snow.
"... After a few more descents and even little daring flights we said goodbye to the snow."
"... The warm colors of the late afternoon matched the warmth in my heart ..."
The day was already showing signs of fatigue instead of us, who still wanted to continue playing in that white landscape. Before we go to the small village of Sabugueiro, we made a small detour to the largest body of water in the Serra da Estrela, in Lagoa Comprida.
I recall with emotion that moment when we girls threw snowballs at their father. A moment so simple and yet so unique ... so authentic and genuine. More than anything, it was being able to be there with them, living it with them and being able to see them smile beside me. Those moments that are worth the world and that would make me give the world to have them again. That will make me cry when I can't have them and that will warm my heart when I remember them.
The warm colors of the late afternoon matched the warmth in her heart, right there with the one I love the most and the one I love the most. I felt enormous humility and gratitude for those minutes on the granite rocks, looking together at the dark lake that reflected the snowy mountain as my face reflected my soul.
As promised, we spent the night in one of the typical houses of the village of ElderberryThe Cruise Homes. It is customary to spend a night in this peaceful place, which is actually the highest village in Portugal. In winter it has another flavor, the old granite walls protect us from the cold and the wind that blows mercilessly outside, the small windows reveal a little the world on the other side and the fireplaces invite us to spend a pleasant evening is hot.
It is definitely a retreat from the busy day we had. Still, we went for a walk outside a bit. We had always done this before and it was not today that we were going to fail in this little tradition. We passed through the narrow streets of the village, illuminated by the warm lights of the lamps and the light that some windows let out, indicating the presence of a burning fire. At night all the little sounds come to life and our imagination lets itself wander. We left the comfort of the village and followed the sidewalk until we crossed the bridge to the other side of the river. Away from the lights, we finally managed to see the spectacle that the sky offers us with so many stars and celestial bodies. The atmosphere was incredible and we walked, nestled in our coats, as the cold wind coming down from the valley blew us in the face. We heard owls in the distance and even an owl. One feels a tranquility and a peace that only places like this can give us.
In the morning the hustle and bustle of the custom begins, perhaps more touched by the sweetness of the village that is not indifferent to us. I can already hear the family in the little house below and I quickly open the window ... I immediately surrender to the landscape that I find, the soft colors of the dawn of a new day and the aromas that the wind brings over the mountains. There is something magical about the window ... it is an opening to something we are not in, a glimpse of a dream. I look at the small stone church and see a flock of sheep and goats guided by the clothes of a shepherd. Everything is so authentic that it makes me want to belong to that place where life is as simple as it is hard. Suddenly a smile appears on the window beneath a face that is still half asleep. "Good morning" greeted my mother. And a tender kiss on the other side of the window ... a wonderful way to start the day.
"I immediately surrender to the landscape I find, to the soft colors of the dawn of a new day and to the scents that the wind brings over the mountains."
"... it is here, on the banks of Rossim, that we can catch a glimpse of the forest that once covered much of the mountain."
As we were close by, we went for a walk to the Rossim Valley, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful corners of the Serra da Estrela. I am fascinated by the beauty of this place, where we can be amazed by the dam of deep blue tone with the rocky peaks in the background, so often reflected in its waters. Still, what makes this place so special are the beautiful trees that are around. Wild pines, birches and pseudo-tsugas. The mountain has lost much of its forest cover over time due to the installation of the man who dominated the landscape to transform it into pasture. Nowadays it is here, on the banks of the Rossim, that we can catch a glimpse of the forest that once covered much of the mountain.
Naturally, without any plan, we let ourselves wander along the banks of the great lake. Only the cool weather reminded us that it was a winter day, because the sky almost made us believe it was a summer afternoon. It was so pleasant to walk with the family through the mantle of tiny grains of sand, plucked by the water and wind at various times. granite rocks found there. There was still some snow here and there which added a magical touch to the wintry landscape.
I remember hugging my father with all my strength. I was delighted to see you there. It has always been easier to have my mom and sister go on small adventures, so having him there was just incredible! I also remember looking at the other side of the lake, where the granite blocks are piled up, where memories of other days when Jorge and I ventured, perched from rock to rock, escape to their most daring tops .
star sawGuarda, Portugal
also in portugal