April 11, 2013

Serra dos Órgãos

We arrived in Teresópolis somewhat late on a dreary, drizzly night and found ourselves on a sunken-in mattress in a strange but fascinating century old hotel with wooden floors, high cielings, and antique furniture- once a grand hotel, but now just a little shabby!

Our excitement blossomed the next morning as we looked outside and were greeted with partly-cloudy skies as we looked up onto the hills outside Teresópolis. Our main interest here was hiking in the Serra dos Orgãos National Park which stretches along the mountain range of the same name between Petropolis and Teresópolis. We decided to nix the complete traverse between those two cities, but still hike up the first part to Pedra do Sino at 2263m and spend the night there in a mountain shelter.

We made a late start, gathered supplies and took a taxi outside of town to the park entrance. By the time we had paid our massive entrance fee and started out at about 950m, it was noon and the good weather was no where to be seen; we were in a cloud. We were told we’d need four or five hours to get up the 1300m.

The cloud stayed with us the entire day. We kept expecting the dense rain forest to break but it didn’t, and the rain came down harder as we continued. We were quite surprised as we heard our cellphone ring mid-hike in the backpack, and got a phone call fromn Nick’s Dad! Neverthless, the hike up was somewhat grueling and at 17:45, shortly before complete darkness, we had yet to find sight of our shelter for the night. (Well, to tell the truth, even visibility in the daytime was very limited due to the weather)

Fortunately, we arrived at the refuge, lovingly named Abrigo 4, just in time! Though rather exhausted, cold and soaked. It was minimalistic, manned, and not unlike the Swiss mountains huts we’re used to enjoying, though the beds left quite a bit to be desired! We weren’t quite prepared for the cold up there, though happy to have brought soup ingredients and tea!

After an early bed time and a night of tossing and turning, we awoke at 6:00 from our roommate’s alarm clock and got back into our soggy shoes to head back down. Since the clouds had mostly cleared, we had a lot more visiblity and the hike back down felt very different! Peaks poking out of the layers of clouds in the distance left hints as to how breathtaking the hike would be in good weather.

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