Walking off Pigs’ Ears in Peñalara National Park Adventuriety

IMG_9364We spent the night in Segovia and drove back towards Madrid the next day to see El Clasico (more on that in the next blog).  Since Segovia is only a short distance from Madrid, Scott had planned a route on the back roads that would allow for a long hike along the trails of Peñalara National Park.  We left Segovia without breakfast (or coffee), stopping at a tiny logging village in the mountains for our first adventure of the day.  Again, we walked into a  tiny, mostly deserted bar/restaurant (one of two in the town and the only one that was open)  and tried to communicate with the woman behind the counter.  She was not a communicator, but with the help of her few patrons having their pre lunch beers, we were seated and served four slices of a potato and egg quiche-like dish called Patatas Frittata (which is a delicious and common Spanish dish served at all times of the day) and a basket of bread.  The kids had hot chocolate and we had really good coffee and all of the sudden breakfast was turning out better than I had thought possible.  Then the woman came to our table with a large plate of fried meat and said it was a “gift” in Spanish.  When you are presented with a gift, the only option is appreciation, and so we began the adventure of eating our gift.  It was slimy. chewy and greasy all at the same time.  I entertained the kids with childhood stories of fried chicken gizzards which were a treat that were only prepared a few times a year.  Scott told me not to tell those stories while were eating and then in the same breath he “double dog dared” me to eat a piece of the mystery meat (without bread) as I talked about chicken gizzards.  I managed, but it was not easy.  It was a generous portion of breakfast protein that we had been served and so we teamed up and choked it down.  I paid with a halting “thank you very much, it was very good” (in Spanish) to which our non-communicating friend decided to understand my mangled Spanish and ask me if I like the meat and then began explaining which part of what animal it came from.  I beckoned her closer to my interpreter and Scott understood with the help of some pantomiming that we had just eaten freshly harvested and deep fried pigs’ ears and surrounding bits.  yum! 


We left the pigs’ ears restaurant trying not to think about what we had just eaten and drove the rest of the way to the trailhead.  We passed this happy hiker at a ski area very near our hike.


These signs were posted everywhere.


Ashley and Scott studied the trail map.   It was cold but sunny and there were many different, well-marked trails.


There was a fancy sun dial near the trailhead (and maybe our next yard project).


We begin our four hour hike.  The trails were perfectly maintained.


The views were stunning all along the trail.


Even a couple of miles in, the amount of maintenance and work on the trails was impressive.  We passed this turn off to the lakes and hiked ahead (we would come back and hike it later).


We hiked along this stream for a while.


What a surprise to find these wild horses grazing near the trail.


We left them grazing in the valley but it was impossible not to keep turning around and admiring the view.


This lake is above the valley that the horses were grazing in and fed the stream that we had hiked along.



We turned around here and retraced our steps back to the bridge where another path led towards more lakes.


The kids, as usual, had plenty of energy to climb every rock in sight.


And still enough energy to get ahead of us and rest while Scott and I caught up.


They even let us rest sometimes.  This picture is probably a few hours past breakfast and at least two into the hike.  Usually by this time the question of a snack break has come up, but on this day we were thoroughly sustained by our breakfast.


Some of the terrain was different from anything I had ever seen before.  The rocks have a greenish glow from the lichen.


The terrain became very rocky and the trail became large posts every 100 yards or so.  You would look for the post in the distance and then begin the arduous task of crossing the talus slope (lots of big rocks).  The other family members are skilled rock hoppers but I hate it.


We found another lake and by this time we saw only a few other hikers.


Depending on where we were on the trail, a valley or a more exposed section, the temperature would change considerably.  You can see one of the posts that marks the trail.


One last cold lake (and you know it’s cold because both kids have jackets on and zipped).


Scott wanted to hike a little farther and see what was on the other side of this mountain.  There was a trail back along the ridgeline and peak but we decided to take the low road because the wind was so cold.


It was really cold.


We turned around and headed back.


Out of the wind and getting warm enough to enjoy the view in the opposite direction.


It took us a little over four hours to hike our chosen adventure.  It was late afternoon when we finished the hike and we still weren’t hungry but thought that a snack before our drive into Madrid would be a good idea. Scott said our stomachs were too afraid to be hungry after our dinner the night before and then pigs’ ears for breakfast.  I had to agree.  We stopped at a café and snacked on Doritos, Cheetos and cookies which tasted much better than they should.



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