It’s gotten cold here now. December arrived today and we got up early to light two fires before the kids stumble down the stairs. Claire was up extra early, excited to open her advent calendar. But the house is nippy before we get the fires going. It would be rather a drag if we didn’t know it’s only for this month: next month we move next door which has a nice, modern heat pump. Ahhh, consistent, hands off heat…. Canigou has a lot more snow on it this morning, and even the lower hills that we hike up to from the house are snowy. The high today is 7, but more normal temps and sunshine return this week, of 13 or 14 C.
We took advantage of the gorgeous weather at the start of the week to have a quick walk up to Sant Marti de Roca above Camelas, the chapel with the goats (see earlier post), and were happy to see the goats were still in the vicinity.
We greatly enjoyed being out and since the forecast suggested that we were almost at an end of the gorgeous weather, we decided to head out the next day to have a full day adventure near Eus. Eus is a medieval town a half hour drive away, tightly set on a hillside, capped by an impressive church, and with a spectacular view.
We left Eus and walked up a small gravel road behind it, up a hill through the rocky, scrubby vegetation called the garrigue. Evergreen bushes, small dense oak and olive trees, sage and thyme, and the odd little tended vineyard. Around us, a ring of high hills, to the south, the valley and Canigou rising on the far side of it, to the west, the ski area, and more snow capped mountains. After a few bends we saw a chapel and some ruins at the top of a far off hill – it was a good place to head to for lunch.
I walked along happily in the sunshine, soaking in the views, looking for birds, singing a tune, and then we reached our first decision point, a path heading off, it must be said, in the direction of our lunch destination. Tris, somewhat unusually, wanted to stay on the road, which would probably head there, because of the clear views, rather than the path which headed into some dense growth, so we kept following the road. However after half an hour it was clear we were on a road going somewhere else, a valley over and a good steep climb away from our destination. Tris was decisive: no lunch til we get there. I groaned, but since he was carrying the lunch, and I could use a challenge, we decided to just explore our current path a little further.
When a path appeared, heading the right way with a little sign that said “Les Sources”, we took it. It headed down to the valley below our destination but then did not oblige us by heading up the hill, instead heading around it, so despite my efforts to scale some old man made rock walls to see if there was a path above them -there wasn’t – we were debating turning around to try to go all the way back to the first path.
Happily that we did. Within 5 or 10 minutes our path hit a wider road, one a 4 by 4 could travel, which came down from the hills behind us – the wrong way, but nice peaks to explore – and headed down the valley. Another decision. Tris, it must be noted, used every stopping point to work on real estate videos for his blog. I left him to it and headed down the path to see if it would swing hard left and lead us back through the thick scrub and up the hill. I was hungry! I could see my lunch spot, close yet so inaccessible, so I trudged off hopefully, hearing Tris behind me begin another monologue on real estate risk. At this point it was not just my stomach that was grumbling.
Hurray! The track DID swing up and around, and from the viewpoint lower down I could see the line of the path cutting up the hill. I headed back within earshot, gave Tris a holler confirming our direction, pointing both along the track, and meaningfully, at my stomach, and headed off at full speed. I knew my lunch porter could easily outpace me.
The destination was another of those surprises we frequently experience around here. More dramatic than expected. A farmstead that might have housed well over 100 people. Crumbling ruins of stone buildings, barns, tractors, and the chapel to top it all off.
We could hear voices as we reached the top and came over the side to the wide smiles of a large hiking group finishing their lunch, 28 of them, who all smiled and gave us a chorus of hellos. Several chatted with us, and someone went to ask someone else for me when the area had been abandoned. The eighties, according to an older woman, who said there were people from Eus who could remember people up here. A sign by the chapel said that this was Comes.
The hikers headed off, waving goodbye, down the direct path to Eus, and we sat down to enjoy the view and at last eat our lunch. I strolled over to keep an eye on some 50 sheep and check out the views.
And then it was time to head back, to get home before the kids. This time we followed the footpath to Eus, downhill and direct, a speedy trip of under an hour. Not quite fast enough to give us time to get the house warm before the kids arrived though!