Now for Day Three:
Finally, the day of our big ride. We set out just after sunrise, joined by the farm dog, who refused to go home despite shouts and cajoling.
We rode over hill and down dale. The valleys tend to be full of ferny plants, the open hills grazed short. Most of the trail we followed was made by cattle and ranged from singletracks through the grass to eroded stony trails in the woods, like this one.
Within an hour we had reached one of the most spectacular sights. "It's the end of the world," I thought, when I came over the crest of the hill and saw the view. The mountains drop away, and when the mist has cleared you can see all the way to the ocean, many miles away.
It was hard to leave that spot, but we had hours to go yet. After miles more and a stop for a snack we arrived at another spectacular site: one of several sort of giant holes in the ground, worn by millenia of water flowing. The sound of the waterfalls echoes up. The ground just seems to have dropped away. That's us on the far side of the hole, crossing the stream above the waterfall. Paulo stayed behind to take the picture for us.
A while later we actually went down into one of these little waterfall valleys.
And Paulo set us up with lunch on a grassy knoll across from the waterfall. The little dog begged and begged for a morsel, and we hadn't brought him any food, so we let him have all our bread, while we ate the beef empanadas and skewers of salami and olives. After lunch we napped for a while - another Brazilian tradition. The horses had been unsaddled before lunch and tethered to nearby trees to graze and rest. We used the saddles and sheepskin covers as beds to rest on.
We got home in time for dinner, with a total of about six or seven hours riding. I'll never forget the awesome big sky country. The whole day we passed no more than 2 or 3 farms or homesteads, and saw exactly one human - a man fixing his broken-down truck by the side of a road we crossed. It was so quiet and lovely.
The Crioulo horses are remarkable - the most sensible, sure-footed, trail-smart horses I've ever ridden. They never took a wrong step even on the roughest footing. I hope to visit Paulo and Angela (below, with one of their horses) again one day for another ride. It really was the best trail ride ever.