Thursday, September 28, 2006

France 3

This is the path up the gorge. It's a bit 'hairy', and not what you'd call safe. there are many rock falls across it, plus parts of the path have collapsed and in some places you have about a foot wide path, and a hundred foot drop! However, if you're not afraid of heights, it's a great place. There are tunnels, very high mountains and waterfalls all encompassed in it. I also found bats in the roof of the tunnels. They were tucked up inside drill holes in the roof. You can only go so far, as the bridge that used to be there has been washed away. It's about 20 feet, maybe 30, above the river, so you can tell how much of a wall of water came down that day when it was hit. I am told that 'log jams' build up, and when they collapse, the wall of water that comes down is what does all the damage. Some people who were camping in Nyer were killed by the deluge, so now camping is not allowed there anymore.

This is typical of the sort of views you get in the area. The 'big daddy' is a mountain called 'Le Canigou', and I have always wanted to go up it ever since I first saw it. It really dominates, and is a great draw. Mannes has a perfect view of it from his house. On this trip, they made my dream come true, and drove us to 6,000 feet. It would have been a two-day trip if I had started from the base, so the 'leg up' was much appreciated. It was nice and balmy when we set off, at about 5,000 feet it turned a bit 'parky' - at 9,000 it was REALLY freezing. I had the full gear on (except I was wearing shorts!!!!). My fingers were so cold, I had pins and needles for about two hours after coming down off the top! I still feel it was worth it though, and I would love to go up there again on a perfect day (like the day we left - it was completely clear and looked stunning in a blue hue.)

A view from Canigou on the way up. Not into the snow/ice line yet, but it was getting much cooler at this stage.

Looking up at the summit - an exciting moment for me. You can see the dusting of snow and ice up there. By this time, it was VERY cold, with a very low wind chill factor to boot. This (the French) side of the mountain was clear, with stunning views, but the Spanish side was disappointingly cloudy.

Oh well, mustn't grumble!

Looking over the French side. Those mountains are very reminiscent of the Scottish Mamore range. I'd like to see this view in winter with snow on the tops.

Looking along the path on the way up. It even LOOKS cold on this shot, doesn't it? A few more feet, and I would be on the top!

Here's the moment I topped out! I actually stayed on the leeward (Spanish) side of the summit to eat lunch. It was a little sheltered, but I STILL was shivering as I sat there with my butties! The cloud rolled away to reward me with fleeting views of the Spanish side, so I was happy with that. I got some good shots of the topographic plate, and the cross (with LOTS of memorials attached to it) on the top. Mountains always attract memorials to people - Ben nevis is the same.

Please go to France 4

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