Missing that picturesque mountains of Lopo Sierra I left Sao Paulo Saturday morning (nov 5) just to spend a night on top of the Sierra between the municipalities of Extrema and Joanópolis, both in Minas Gerais. The goal was simple: Photos and tranquility ...
The only shorter trip to some mountain from Sao Paulo, just going to Jaragua Peak (highest point of Sao Paulo city – 1200m). Extrema is exactly 83 kms from the capital in a straight line, but on the road that turns out to be 106 kms. Pretty quick, leaving from Tietê bus station the travel time is less than the time it take to get to work every day, which cost me 100 minutes long on average. From Sao Paulo to Extrema it takes just 80 minutes.
Once at the city, there’s a simple choice to make: Up the Embratel road walking for 10 kms or pay for a taxi. The last time I went walking I got too tired so I bivouac on the road, risking to be hit by a car overnight. This time I decided to make things easier, I paid a taxi to Embratel transmition towers, why to spend time sweating by the sun and heat of thirty degrees unnecessarily? It seems that there is a path that hikes up by the frog Stone, but I do not know the path so the best choice was to go up by taxi anyway.
I arrived very quickly to the towers. From there I went down about 100 meters to the main entrance of the Céu da Mantiqueira guest house, by the left of the gate there is a secondary trail to Lopo Peak which I know very well, and the main trail leaves at the lodge. I changed my clothes and got on the trail alone, listening to conversations in the woods, like ghosts around me.
Shortly after I got to Pedra das Flores, walking calmly to extend the track on purpose because it is very short. I wanted to enjoy the woods, I missed hiking a great deal.
Arriving at Pedra das Flores, I ran into two groups, one guided of seven people who just went to Lopo Peak as soon as I got there, and a group of three couples who were already set up for camping with three tents up. The first group was a little familyways, all educated, enjoying the beauty of that place. The second group was quite different. Well, I sat away, made a quick snack, grabbed my junk and when I saw the first group walking up the final ridge to Lopo Peak I went to the peak, where I arrived twenty minutes later.
The group was still at the summit taking pictures and enjoying the strong wind up there. This mountain has a strong wind effect, to my knowledge it has always been so.
I made some photos, a picture, a video. I enjoyed a little and started heading down. On the descent still ran into the same group that started the descent before me about ten minutes. Actually I had the idea of bivouac on the summit of Lopo, but I thought a bit and changed my mind. The site where it fits a single tent would be great to bivouac certainly, but there was a lot of sand and the wind began to shake all that, I changed my mind looking for a clean place and the option is obviously Pedra das Flores, clean and relatively flat.
I came back there under a strong heat, about 30 degrees or so, and light winds yet. In Lopo the winds are much stronger. I chose the pace of my bivouac, about twenty yards away from the three couples, organized my stuff and just waited for the sunset, which was still nearly five hours away!
Wow, what a heat ... But I took a nap, I threw my towel over my face and I was ready, I think colapsed one hour straight, the wind increased a little and made the heat much more bearable. Well, certainly more bearable than inside a tent where the heat of the sun would be much worse.
The hours passed and I began to prepare myself for the sunset photos and video. So I took both cameras and as one was filming, I clicked with the other. It was nice and dynamic, I have done this, take at least two cameras and a tripod with me.
At that time a boy of the group came to me, asking if the fire in the camp next to a big boulder there was my (???). Of course not, I never make fire. But I gave a short answer. After a while he came back and invited me to join them to chat, they had wine and so on. I said I would and have a chat before go to sleep, but what went down after that discouraged me and caused me to disgust the urge to drop by their camp in search of some "pre-sleep" chat.
They put on some sound and began to drink during the rest of the day, for each five words that were spoke two were bad language. After they got drunk, from each ten, seven or eight. After a while they began a contest in which the loudest girlfriend during intercourse would win. People, WTF? I made sure not to go to their tents and lay down if I remember correctly was 20:15h, turned off my switch and sleep.
I woke up scared of the wind at 22:45h, what a wind...And the fun continued along, now they were all drunk, and the party went on and on. I hope at least they used condoms, and after used, collected and brought with them for proper disposal.
I filmed the sunrise, 27 minutes more of video saved for future editing. While filming with Sony DSCH20 photographed with Canon G12. And although more weight to be carried it is interesting to carry two cameras. I liked the idea and for some time now I've been practicing the strategy.
When I finished my work I packed everything and precisely at 06:37h I set foot on the trail coming home, enjoying the mild temperatures in the morning of 8 degrees celcius. Perfect for light hiking in return. I came back to the lodge gate it was 07:40h. Made my backpack a little bit organized, ate two bananas for breakfast and began the long descent of 10 km to the city.
I arrived at the bus station at 10:15h, I think I went down pretty fast. This time do not got tired as much as the last time I went walking the road of Caparaó National Park, which is considerably shorter than Lopo Sierra. I had a but leaving to Sao Paulo at 15:30h, but I manage to change my ticket to 13:00h, what a beauty! At least this time everything went well and I could go home with tons of pretty pictures.
I expected to have some company for a chat atop Pedra das Flores, but at the same time that this company was at least respectful of others seeking silence, to enjoy nature and a beautiful sunset, unfortunately I did not find it. But it’s part of hiking in Brazil just like in other countries I guess. Still, I managed to abstract and enjoy some peace of mind with a bivouac lit by stars and a very bright moon. If you seek the same thing, stop by Lopo Sierra, it's close to Sao Paulo, beautiful, worthy of a visit.
I come to think a little about the behavior of hikers / campers in the mountains. It's amazing, is that our behavior that it is abnormal? Because it is so very common to see this kind of thing (loud, drunk, etc.), I get to relativize what I classify as normal and respectful. Am I wrong? I wonder if other people like these do and so many others do is considered to be "normal camp behavior” so to speak?
Hmm .. I do not know. But I'm sure of one thing: I like my way, our mountaineer way.