To Trujillo - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 16, 2019

To Trujillo

We’ll begin our day with a return to Monfragüe, for the hike we ran out of time for yesterday.  With only a 25 mile ride ahead of us to reach Trujillo tonight, there is room for us to bike five miles back to the park, spend three or four hours on a hike, and still make it to Trujillo well before sundown.

It’s chilly again today, but less so than yesterday morning.  We stay around our hotel until around ten and then hop on our bikes, leaving our panniers at the front desk to pick up when we pass by later this afternoon.  A half hour later, we’re at the parking lot below the walk to Monfragüe’s ridgetop castle, locking up the Fridays and changing into our walking shoes.

Biking north toward Monfragüe. It’s a lumpy five miles, involving a bit of a drop into an arroyo before switchbacking out again. We can look forward to our third traverse of this small canyon later this afternoon.
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Lacing up for a hike. We’re really pleased with the new Salomon walkers we’ve brought along on this tour. Very comfortable, and well worth the weight and space.
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Our plan for the day is to walk the southern end of the Red Route, the longer of the marked trails that emanates from the Visitors Center.  The whole route is about 16 kilometers, and more than we have available today.  Its southern end though is a sub-loop that begins at this parking lot, climbs to the castle, drops to the foot of the bridge over the Tagus, and then follows the Tagus back to our starting point.  Just right for us - it promises some great views from the top of the ridge, a chance to walk more slowly through the woods, and a second pass by the Gypsy Jump.

The walk begins with a short walk up to the castle, mostly along the narrow paved road that stops just below the top. It’s apparent from the size of the parking lot at the bottom and the markings for bus loading zones that this place can get busy, but today it’s very quiet.  I don’t recall being passed by a single car, and we see perhaps ten other walkers.

The views become more impressive as we climb, but most impressive are the vultures that suddenly appear through the trees, just above or below our heads.  They’re swooping in from Falcon Rock on their way east to pick up an updraft, close enough to us that we can hear the slow, rhythmic beat of their huge wings.

At the top, we scramble around and on top of the small castle, taking in the awesome views across the park and down at the river.

Climbing toward the castle, Rachael stops to marvel at the vultures that soar past, just above our heads.
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The vultures really are thrilling, seen from above and below. The heights around the castle make a great vantage point for taking them in close up.
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I’m smiling because I love climbing stairs so much.
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The Tagus River, seen from the castle. It’s actually the upper end of a vast reservoir here, one that begins at the dam at Alcantara, just before the Portuguese border.
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Watch your step! No guardrails up here.
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Looking upriver on the Tagus toward the modern bridge that we crossed yesterday.
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A classic shot for an ad in a men’s magazine: hair styled by Updraft.
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Ron SuchanekYou could be in a Old Spice commercial.
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1 month ago

From the castle the Red Route gradually angles eastward, down and off the ridge, eventually meeting the river at the foot of the new bridge.  It’s a pleasant if undramatic walk, dropping through scrubby forests.

Once we reach the river we follow it upstream for a ways to get a close up look at the historic Cardenal Bridge, the one built in 1450.  We stop short of the bridge though, where the trail is barricaded by a landslide.  From there, we backtrack to the new bridge and then continue following the Tagus until we come once again to the famous gap at Salto del Gitano.

Descending from the castle on the north side of the ridge, toward the river. There are frequent signs warning you to stay on the path, for good reason.
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Descending toward the Tagus
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There’s a large and seemingly pretty tame red deer population in the park.
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Looking north across the Tagus.
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The Cardenal Bridge. What a wonderful sight it must have been when it was clogged by a massive sheep drive.
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Little birds are so frustrating. They’re shy, don’t stay put for long, and don’t show you their best profile unless you just sit and wait all day.
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Bill ShaneyfeltGreat tit.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_tit
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1 month ago
The new bridge, that carries EX-208 across the Tagus. I wonder if it has a name, so I could call it that rather than just the new bridge?
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At Salto del Gitano we stop again to gaze in wonder at the aerobatics of the vultures.  I could really watch this show all afternoon, but eventually Rachael reminds me that it’s midafternoon and we still have another mile before we get back to our bikes and then a thirty mile ride ahead of us.  There’s plenty of daylight left, but we don’t like getting to town too late in the day - we always like to allow a decent margin in case we flatten or something else unexpected holds us up.

Just as we stand up to leave, someone speaks to us in English.  We turn around and find a Dutch couple sitting on the bench, taking it all in in amazement, and strike up a chat - the first real conversation we’ve had with someone else since leaving Ken and Judy two weeks ago.  It’s enjoyable, but a bit disjointed - we keep breaking off to stare up in amazement when some vulture flies in low over our heads.  Miraculously one lands on the rocks just behind us, giving me the first really good opportunity at a close up photograph.

Eventually though, we plead that we really do have to be going, unless they want to give us and our bikes a lift back to Trujillo in their spacious minivan.  We keep a good pace, and make it back to our bikes a bit before three.  Still plenty of time, but we have to stay focused on covering the remaining miles.

The viewpoint at Salto del Gitano. We saw this view yesterday, but are fine with taking another look.
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On Peña Falcón
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Amazing that this guy came in for a landing on the rocks just forty feet above us.
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He’s just beginning to spread his wings. In another five seconds he breaks free from the cliff and soars off, just over our heads.
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We keep a good pace all the way to Trujillo, stopping only to pick up our luggage at our hotel and for breaks to stop and take water a few times.  It’s rolling terrain, more up than down, and we’re both quite ready to stop for the day when we reach Trujillo just before six.

This is another two night stand for us, and we expect to take another day off the bikes tomorrow and explore the town because rain is on tap.  Again, no video today because the WiFi is still too weak.  We’ll have to have a big videorama in a few days to catch up.

NEWS FLASH!

We have video!  We went to a bar for tapas tonight, and the wifi’s Great.

Yesterday’s ride through Monfrague:

Video sound track: Esta Soledad, by Kany García

Today’s ride to Trujillo:

Video sound track: (De Le) Yaleo, by Santana

Heading south, Trujillo bound. It’s just beyond that ridge; and the next one; and the one after that.
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It’s really quite a pretty ride, and very quiet. We probably only see a passing car every five minutes or so. The ride really deserves more photos than this, but we haven’t got the time.
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Here comes one of those ridges now; and not the last one.
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Rachael’s down there, on the bridge crossing the Almonte. If you can’t spot her, take my word for it.
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It’s a relief to finally have Trujillo in our sights; but it’s a disappointment to see that it’s a hill town.
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The infamous Pizarro, Trujillo’s favorite son.
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Ride stats today: 36 miles, 2,600’; for the tour: 786 miles, 39,900‘

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 788 miles (1,268 km)

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