Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spanish Pyrenees Walk 7: Above Cantallops

This walk had a bit of everything and that isn’t necessarily good. After a lovely hot breakfast, what  a pleasant change from the merely continental style breakfasts we have been having, we got ourselves ready for the circuit-hike of the day. We expected it to be another very warm day with a high temperature touching 80-82F (it did). However, at the start of our walk around 09:20 the sky was mostly cloudy and the temperature was cool. We strolled on down into Cantallops (Can-ta-lopes) and through the modest sized village. We believe they have some industry in the form of vineyards but at this time of a Monday morning at least it was awfully quiet. We found our way to a dirt single track that had a snail (scallop, isn’t the scallop shell used on Camino de Santiago paths?) shell along with more common yellow waymarks. We began to climb through the hills up the valley. I’m glad it wasn’t too hot yet because though the climbing wasn’t strenuous it certainly got my sweat glands working. Over the next couple km we gained a couple hundred meters and when we remembered to look back were treated to some fine views of the valley below. 

We tried to find , admittedly not too much effort was expended, some of the dolmens in the area. They represent burial grave sites from the 5th century. 
Dad and a cork tree

We continued working our way up. A castle was visible in the distance. But only now and then as we worked our way through cork oak forest trails. The tantalizing sound of a stream could be heard but we never really did see it.

In time we came to a mountain road which we would follow northerly and it got us to within a km of the castle. We chose to continue on. We saw numerous cows wandering the roadside or sometimes just laying alongside the road -tails and ears constantly flicking to try and keep the flies at bay. One constant of the walk today were the flies bouncing off us. Irritating. Annoying. At least they weren’t biting flies. Why were the cows up here? I certainly saw no land they could reasonably graze.
cows on the road

Our road walk would take us past the ruins of the Santa Maria church. That church was a pilgrimage destination up through the mid-19th century. People came to pray for a certain type of wind whose name I’m not sure of. But for reasons unknown that practice faded and when combined with the de-population that has struck this region the church fell into dis-use and several decades back whoever decides these things just decided to let it go to ruin. Many stone buildings we have passed have been restored, many in ruins. 

We passed more cows. We continued descending towards a stream. We actually crossed a bridge over a stream with running water. Too bad we could not dangle our feet in the water. By this time though clouds were breaking up and the temperature was certainly rising.  We were a bit more than halfway and had some modest ascending on a trail truly full of spiny plants to contend with. Over the next kilometer we climbed and then for a while we descended and then popped back out of the col de Medas where we had tried to find the dolmen earlier in the day. 
distant cadtle

By now the clouds were gone and the air temperature was clearly heading to that 80 plus mark if it wasn’t already there. We could have descended the sane path we climbed this morning but we took the somewhat longer but far easier road descent. The first 1.4kms were on mountain dirt road. Easy going. Then we turned onto what I suppose could be a 4x4 track. For the next 1.75km we continued on down. It took a half hour but felt longer. We were getting tired and the long stretches of just up or just down can be wearing. Besides the views weren’t all that interesting. We were all coming to the point where we were wishing for the end to arrive. The few hundred meters along paved roads into the oh so busy (not) heart of Cantallops to have ice cream and drinks was a chore. The final few hundred meters from there to the hotel was a chore. Sometimes walks whose end you know is in sight just drag more than they should. It is a phenomenon related to the watched teapot never boiling.

An all right walk though not a great one. Now as I sit in my room typing this I’m wishing dinner wasn’t the better part of 3.5 hours away. I just wish the flies would find some other place to be. We were told that a couple of weeks ago when the temperatures had dropped to what would be normal at this time of year, the flies and mosquitoes were gone. They returned with these unusually warm days. 

Distance: 15.8km
AScent and Descent: 420m
Total Time: 6:18
Time for breaks: 1:03 (we had a couple breaks where we pondered directions more than we might otherwise have had to do. Today the directions , or at least our ability to read them, wasn’t as good as usual). 

`. Harvesting of cork trees is done here. The lower portion is the inner layer exposed after harvesting. I think the tree re-grows it’s bark in 7-10 years. 

2.  Cows, cows cows.  We saw several wandering the mountain roads today. 

3. The overcast has lifted and we are heading back to the village. We had a chance to look back from where we had been and you can see the castle we didn’t visit in the distance. 
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