Kissed by Sunlight
edited: Saturday, May 12, 2012
By Alex Thomas Mahon
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
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Hiking in the Pyrenees.
With a few days off between Constitution Day and Immaculate Conception Day (December 6th and 8th respectively) Nuria and I decided to head for Aigües Tortes National Park in the Lleidatan Pyrenees. We spent the night at a hostel in a picturesque village called La Guingueta D'Aneu, and then the next morning we drove to a hamlet called Espot. From there the park can only be accessed by local taxi - a jeep. The taxi driver waited until he had six passengers before letting us jump in. The taxi trundled up the mountainside for thirty minutes to a spot by Llac de Sant Maurici, a lake.
The moment we got out Nuria smothered my face in suncream. The sunlight here is very strong and being Scottish, my skin is prone to sunburn even on a day as cold as this. When she'd finished I put on my sunglasses and together we gazed at the ice-capped mountains, kissed by morning sunlight. The perfect backdrop to a beautiful day.
Ten minute later, we went down to the frozen lake. A sign warned tourists not to walk on the thin ice. So we trudged along the west bank, knee-deep in snow, stopping occasionally to have a snowball fight. After a photo session, we returned to the spot where the jeep had dropped us off and clambered up a steep, winding path through the forest. It was icy and covered in snow. After half an hour we decided to return. That was when we saw the warning sign: Danger - path inaccessible.
We tried another path which was far safer and meandered up the mountainside through a forest. We saw birds, but had no idea if they were kites or buzzards; eagles or vultures - we'd forgotten our binoculars. We never saw animals, although we did hear rustling in the undergrowth. I think they were animals! My chest hurt after twenty minutes. Nuria said it could be due to the altitude as I wasn't used to it. Hardly surprising, the highest mountain in Britain - Ben Nevis is only 1300 metres high. We were 2000 metres. When we came back down I felt better. We explored other areas lower down and then caught the taxi back.
A fantastic day!