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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hike Terceira PRC1TER Misterios Negros 29 August 2011

0715hrs Monday 29 August we left Dutch Link to catch the 0750 Nr3 bus to Biscoitos. There we caught the 0900hrs Nr 11 bus which goes via Altares across the center of the island to Angra. There is only one bus there and one bus back per day - hence the early start.
Our hike, the Mysterios Negros (literally the Mysterious Blacks) started from the Pico Gordo junction of the roads from Altares and Biscoitos to Angra.

On the way we encountered the not infrequent occurence of a herd of cows strolling down the middle of the road
A second herd decided to race the bus - see video below:-

At the road junction we turned right following the road to the Gruta do Natal
with fields on one side and a forest of Cryptomeria Japonicas on the other.
Although the forecast was for partly sunny weather, the morning did not start too promisingly with low cloud (we were at about 550 m above sea level) and occassionally a slight drizzle
Google Earth gives the below view of the area of the hike
The official start of the hike is at the stone building over the entrance to the Gruta do Natal - a 700 meter lava tube.
The guide book describes the chimney as being in the "maos-postas" (hands clasped in prayer) style - typical of the island - as Jeannette demonstrates
Opposite is the Lagoa do Negro - one of the lava tubes is reported to extend under this.

In the distance, shrouded in cloud is the volcanic peak of Pico do Gaspar - a climb to its crater rim is included as part of this hike
zooming in
The hike continues through a forested area
and then over a sometimes marshy terrain

with heather - some of which is partly covered by a type of lichen
and many Juniper bushes , many the size of small trees
back into a Cryptomeria Japonica wood
and more Juniper trees with a small pond

yet another delightful pool

back under the low twisted branches
This section of the hike became almost a scramble over large moss covered boulders of volcanic rock under low twisted branches.

The trail finally emerged into the open between two of the volcanic hills - looking back, the trail is lost to the eye below the dense vegitation

The rough volcanic boulders still make progress rather slow
A view of one of our objectives , Pico do Gaspar, in the distance
zooming in
Progress easier as the trail now follows a track

The domes of the Mysterio dos Negros - looking at them one can see how they have come to be called this
Skirting a wood
with views of the southern coast - the peninsular in the middle is Monte Brazil off the capital Angra do Heroismo
Back amongst the red barked Cryptomeria Japonicas
Finally made it to the crater rim of Pico do Gaspar
Looking into the crater

A good spot for our picnic lunch out of the wind in the crater
On the way down
The Gruta do Natal, start and end of the hike, in view
Back to the road junction where we had exited the bus - unfortunately the return bus was not until 1625hrs and it was just 1315hrs - so we take the right hand fork and walk to Biscoitos

Luckily the 6 km walk to Biscoitos along the road was fairly pleasant - not too much traffic and much of the road passed through forests lined with Hydrangers and several areas of Ginger Lilies. The road was downhill all the way - we used the backwards walking technique on the steep parts to save our slightly complaining knees.
We made it to Biscoitos by 1430hrs - in good time for an icecream and cold Coke before catching the 1500hrs Nr3 bus back to Praia

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hike Terceira PdV to Porto Martins 27 August 2011

27 August we decided to explore the coast south of Praia da Vitoria to the small coastal town of Porto Martins.
Around noon walked past the tents on the side of the marina where a car rally had taken place the night before. We had wondered why they had not removed the tents as it is now a couple of weeks since they were used for the Festa. This most be one of the few places where a car rally is held almost completely indoors.
We skirted round the commercial harbour at the southern side of the Praia da Vitoria Bay whilst ominous grey clouds approached.
The rough track led past a popular surfing spot
and onto recently reinforced coastal defences
protecting the main oil storage tank farm for the island
The coast here is very rocky
Time for our picnic lunch
The track along the coast petered out but we found a convenient farm track leading between the stone wall separated fieldsWe were very lucky with the weather - it seemed to be raining heavily in Praia while we had only the ocassional few drops
Glimpses of Porto Martins

The well kept church in Porto Martins with the typical Espirito Santo Imperio opposite

Inside the Imperio was a simple altar table with candles - an accident appears to have happened with them ( possibly the sun melted the candles)

As in Biscoitos, a series of rock pools has been created in Porto Martins with easy access to the sea for swimming - a good solution if there is no sandy beach close by

Took the 1530hrs Nr 8 bus back to Praia