Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 11: The Shortest Day....

Sept 27: Daniel woke up early. I heard him moving around, but he was remarkably quiet and sneaked out of the hostel by around 6:00. I slept in for another hour or so before getting up. I didn't have to be quiet since I was the only person in the hostel now.

Heading out of Agueda! It was fun, but it was finally time to go....

I headed downstairs for breakfast, then back to the room where I did some work online. I planned for a measly 16 kilometer day--by far the shortest day so far. I had absolutely no desire to get an early start. I might wind up in town so early that hostels wouldn't be able to admit me yet and I'd be bored stiff the rest of the day. I wanted a late start!

So I didn't leave town until about 10:30 in the morning--by far my latest start yet.

At about the halfway mark, I stopped and laid out by an ancient Roman bridge for an hour and a half reading a book. I still had time to kill! I would have stayed longer--it was a nice place to stop--except the sun moved so much that I lost the shade I was lounging in and the sun was uncomfortably hot. So I packed up and continued on.

I found the strange water-beast sitting on a trailer at the edge of the river. It was the same creature Daniel and I saw working the river yesterday! This time, it wasn't in the water and nobody was around, so I got a closer look at the angry-metal beast. A bizarre-looking thing. I took a few photos and wondered if it was here when Daniel would have walked by hours earlier.

My destination for the day was Albergara-a-Velha, and a couple of kilometers before town, I saw a sign promoting an alburgue another 7 kilometers ahead in Albergaria-a-Nova. My guidebook didn't say anything about an alburgue in the next town which is why I planned for my short day, but this other town was a much better stopping point. It would lengthen my too-short walk today and shorten the 30-kilometer-or-so walk I had planned for tomorrow. Even out the walking a bit. I could totally do more miles!

I stopped at a cafe in Albergaria-a-Velha for some snacks and a Coke, and checked out my maps. Between the two towns was a lot of relatively remote forested areas. Maybe there would be a good place to camp? I was still leery about camping since I had absolutely zero protection against mosquitoes. Would they still be a problem? I filled all of my water bottles just in case I decided to camp. I wanted to camp, so I was going in prepared to camp. If the area looked buggy or I didn't find a good place to camp, I'd keep hiking on to the alburgue at Albergaria-a-Nova. That was my new plan! If it worked out, I'd change my 16 km/30 km days into 22 km/24 km days--a more comfortable pace for me both today and tomorrow.

With that decided, I continued on and eventually found a somewhat decent place to camp about two kilometers short of the alburgue. The bugs didn't seem bad at the moment, but the real moment of truth would be after the sun set. I didn't see anything that was obviously problematic. No standing water anywhere, no swamp-like environment. I didn't even see any irrigation channels nearby. It was in the trees which I didn't like--I wanted to camp under the stars--but the trees weren't particularly thick and I could see partially through the canopy. And I found a spot far enough off the trail that it was unlikely anyone walking or driving by on the dirt road would see me. I'd give it a try.

I cooked dinner, ate, and watched the sun set. The bugs.... stayed away. The more the temperature dropped without any bugs emerging, the better I felt about my campsite. Yes, this just might work....

It was the great water-beast from yesterday! Parked at the edge of the river, I got my first close-up look at it.
It looks like an angry beast, ready to tear the heart out of any vegetation that gets in its way.
This river certainly looks like it's overgrown with vegetation. Was it parked here because this was the next chore the beast would tackle? (In unrelated news, the stone bridge in the background is an ancient Roman bridge and where I took my 1 1/2 hour break this afternoon.)

My guidebook missed another reroute of the trail. The trail clearly went over this high bridge to get over a creek.
My guidebook's map, however, showed the trail leading over that bridge further upstream. That big, gaping hole in the middle of the bridge is somewhat of a discouragement, though, and probably led to the reroute.

My home for the night--among the rows of eucalyptus trees.

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