Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spanish Pyrenese walk 2: Beget to Oix (Osh)

The night was quiet, still and not as dark as I would have expected it to be. Perhaps the nearly full moon accounts for that but I am not convinced. After a fitful sleep morning came with clear skies and crisp early temperatures. I expected it to warm up considerably though it turned out that it would warm up a lot more than I thought it would (that’s what you get for not checking the weather report - Dark Skies is a great app).  We had nice hot breakfasts of eggs and bacon (of a sort; not cooked well and gristly) before hoisting our packs and heading out on our second walk starting at about 09:20. Today we would hike to the outskirts of the village of Oix (pronounced “Osh”). The book says this is a 12km walk and gave ascent and descent numbers that were substantially less than the day before: an easier walk perhaps. 

We left Beget without company. Shep and Panter did not re-appear. We walked down steep cobblestone streets past more aged buildings to the river where we picked up a concrete path that took us quickly to a modern paved single lane road that connects Beget with Oix. We would follow the road, a very quiet one, for about 1km before turning onto another concrete path. These paths are interesting. The concrete is rippled which must make for an interestingly bumpy bike ride or , I suppose, drive. This path lead us through extensive corn fields with mountains rising quickly not far away. It’s a pretty scene. A quiet one too. Some bird calls, squirrels, and bugs buzzing but not much else. Certainly few, if any, mechanical sounds. This gives you a sense of remoteness even though you are clearly walking through lands worked by people. We followed our gentle path to a stream crossing. In spring and early summer perhaps this water rages and represents a major water crossing but now the water was just a couple inches deep. 
parents in corn field

We had been making excellent time. The sun was steadily rising and the temperature in direct sunshine was already well into the 60s. . We were heading towards a place called Talaxia. By this time we were once again following the GR11. We would leave the path for the major climb of the walk at his point. We climbed through forest up a mountainside for 1.5km gaining perhaps 200m in the process. The footing was good so we made good time. It was warm going but not stressful. It also was not particularly eye catching as the forest blocked any views. Throughout the morning remains virtually free of man made sounds. When someone started up an internal combustion engine to do something (cutting fields, slowly driving) it ruined the feeling somewhat. We kept climbing.

At the top is a ruin of a house and a decent view. It would have been better if we’d not been gazing into the sun but it is a spot that shows off how long people have lived here as the stone house is just bits and pieces now with roof tiles scattered on the ground.  There were several trails at this point. We turned to the right and began descending a woods road. We heard voices in the distance and soon came across a man and woman wearing full backpacks heading up the road we were descending. We’ve no idea where they are going. They would be the only people we would see.

The mountain road wound down and down the mountain. Over 2km we probably dropped nearly 200m to a pasture with some more old stone buildings and our lunch spot.  By now it was midday and the temperature was pushing 80F. It was still a lovely day if suprisingly warm.  Our mountain road would plunge us further down through forests taking us past a small church which I suppose we should have checked out. I suspect it is quite nice. But we didn’t make the detour and just kept going. For several kilometers the road continued down towards a dry river and we stuck with it and the GR11. However, eventually we would leave the GR11 for a different route that continued on more hard packed dirt mountain roads through limestone gorges over bridges that seems to spin dry rivers. Some impressive cliffs can be seen here but once again if you have a yen for big vistas that will take your breath away this walk really doesn’t provide those. It provides an enjoyable walk through peaceful conuntryside that sometimes has good views.

We walked steadily on and at about 14:20 we came to the easy-to-miss gate that marked the entrance to Can Pei (no idea what that means) which is the collection of stone farm buildings that is now a family home and site for 7 guest rooms and other rooms for travelers like us. The predominant feature of these buildings is stone: exterior walls, interior walls, steps, floors, everything. Small windows let in some light. But the rooms are good enough if quirky. Mom and Dad are in a room with 3 single beds; I’m in one with 2 singles and one bunk bed. If you stay here make sure you arrive before 14:00 to be shown where you will stay. At 16:00 the owner, and I think Mother of kids, departs to do other things and though nothing is locked you’d not know where your room is.  We just hung out for the rest of the day. Our impression is Oix is very small and since we will walk through it  on the next walk we elected to stay put. I kind of wish we’d looked to see if Oix had a place to get a snack. You won’t find anything in Can Pei.

It was a nice walk. My only complaint is that my quads really hurt. Walking down steps is a real chore now. The Inntravel guide suggest the walk is 12km with something like (going from memory) 360m ascent and 495 descent. The GPS track recorded 12.2km distances; 242  ascent and 380m descent). we arrived at 14:20 averaging about 2.8KPH taking about 4 hours 17 minutes to walk and 48 minutes of breaks.

1. Parents in the corn fields. 

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