As I got lower and lower I began to get a little concerned. I could no longer see the frontier mountains so it became difficult to measure my progress. At last after descending to 1700m I reached a small wooden bridge across a stream descending from the frontier. Either this was coming from the Estany de Mariola or from the Estany del Port below the Port de Materat. I searched both sides of the bridge but couldn't find a path heading up. This was strange as I was sure there was a path descending from the Port de Materat ( I'd followed it 20 years ago with Oliver Woodward when doing this part of the HRP).
I had two choices:
1. Ignore the stream and press onto to the next one (which surely must be from the Port de Materat complete with path), or
2. Follow the stream without any path and so reach the Estany de Mariola (from which I could eventually climb over a shoulder to reach the Port de Materat).
The first choice seemed logical but if this was the valley leading to the Port de Materat afterall and I pressed on, the next valley would take me to Certescan, a very long way from the car and no hope of making it back in time for me flight home! I decided to play it safe and struck off up into the woods trying as best I could to follow the stream. the going was tough with rock outcrops and tangled pines but after 30 mins I reached the treeline. There on the other side of the valley was a path coming from a car park at end of a track emerging from the forest! I headed across and yes this was the road head for the Port de Materat!
In 35 minutes I was at the Estany del Port and 20minutes later at the Port de Materat (2217m).