The second morning we drove to the top of Pena de Francia the second highest mountain peak in the park to tour an ancient monastery and one of the highest shrines of the Blessed Mary in the world. Three quarters of the way up the winding mountain road we spotted some goats and I proceeded to stalk them in order to film the magnificent animals. Showing little fear of humans I got quite close to a herd of outstanding rams and gathered some excellent images.
Later in the afternoon I was asked if I would like to take a ewe to assist in the management of the herd. The thought of spending more time on the mountain was appealing so once again we followed our guides over a fire lane cut through the mature pine forest upwards until we reached the apex of the wind swept treeless mountain top and began our search for a ewe. Initially I thought the hunt would be less than physically challenging especially since we saw an abundance of goats the day before, but we found it difficult to locate animals. It wasn’t until we hiked several miles over around and through rocky terrain before we spotted a few goats, and as I glassed the undisturbed animals far below us, I spotted a ram that had damaged its leg from fighting or possibly a fall. As the ram remained perched on a rocky outcrop 200 yards below us, my guide Vicente pointed out the animal to park superintendent Santiago and he said that I could shoot it.
A rush of adrenalin overwhelmed me before he completed his sentence. Lying on the very edge of a plate like rock slab extending out over an 800 foot drop off I placed my rifle solidly on a backpack took careful aim and fired. The ram slumped to the rock before the first echo of my rifle was heard, but that’s when the work really began. The approach to my second ram was not only more precipitous than the first; the steep slope down to the animal was laden with loose shale. Not a quarter of the way down I slipped and rolled over four times, banging up my rifle on the rocks not to mention myself, before regaining some traction. Fortunately unhurt we continued to navigate our way over and around tall jagged rock formations some over 50 feet tall, to the downed animal.
Unbelievably, I had an unexpected second ram an eight year old which was not as large as my first but still a memorable trophy. We finally returned to our vehicles six miles later as we chose to parallel the mountainside following a well used goat trail instead of climbing back up the dangerously steep slope.
Shortly after breakfast the following morning we parted driving through beautiful mature oak laden country until we reached the village of Penafiel where we spent the night in an opulent castle perched on top of a lone hill north of the village. Penafiel is a small village best known for the irregularly structured Penafiel Castle which stands high over the village. That night we dined on delicious leg of lamb in a restaurant which had a river running right through it. The river could actually be seen below us through a glass floor.
On our last day we traveled to the beautiful city of Segovia where we dined on baby pig in one of the oldest homes now turned restaurant in the city. We also witnessed the brilliance of Roman architecture as we got to view the expansive aqueduct constructed by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. The aqueduct is one of the most significant and best preserved ancient monuments left on the Iberian Peninsula. The massive rocked columns cross the city from one side to another and at one time provided water to its inhabitants as it was piped to the structure from the mountains located several miles from the city.
Arriving in Madrid late on our last evening, we welcomed the rest but made plans for our return to hunt the southeastern ibex next year near the Mediterranean Sea.