lundi 8 août 2016

Clearing up and trip to Pointe de Rabasere

There's been a lot of field and potager clearing going on over the past few days and some new fruit bushes planted. The chicken house is being redeployed closer to the house with a new run an earlier priority on out return. 

The weather remains hot and sunny.

On Saturday we set off on a walk to Pointe de Rabasere (2568m) from Gerac above Guzet. After descending the ladders and crossing the outflow from the first lake, we followed the path which climbs and then crosses the ridge above the lake, before descending towards the Etang de la Hillette.

The first path of the descending path is narrow and exposed

Above the Etang de la Hillette

After losing a lot of height we eventually joined the path leading to the Port de Couillac and the Spanish frontier for lunch.

 One of several small lakes before the Port

There are lovely views from the Port into Spain and towards the mountains around Pica d'Estats and Certescan. We watched a short-toed eagle (snake eagle) soaring and hovering over hillsides.

View from the summit

A short steep climb put us on the tiny summit of Pointe de Rabassere. From here we had to head north to small col from where one can pick up a path heading to the Etand de Reglisse. Susie didn't fancy the ecposed ridge so we descended and then traversed but ended up a little too low and had to reclimb the ridge a little - annoying on a hot afternoon in pathless terrain! Some care was needed to follow the cairns and old red markers on the descent but eventually we were down and soaking our feet in the lake.

Etand de Reglisse

From here a good path back to Gerac. 1350m of ascent.

mercredi 3 août 2016

Day trip to the Maladetta

After some initial running around to sort out some unexpected discoveries on Jean-Christophe Chadafeau's new house which is now underway (or at least the demolition of the old one is) Susie and I decided to get out into the mountains.

After some very hot weather Monday was cloudy, but Meteo France promised good weather Tuesday so we set off at 6.30am for Artiga de Lin just over the border in Spain towards the Val d'Aran. It was raining with heavy low clouds the whole way and we were beginning to doubt the weather, but once in Spain things looked a little brighter and the rain stopped. Last time I was here was maybe 15 years ago. Then you could drive to the end of the road (only on that occasion the road was blocked by a huge avalanche, the scars of which are still evident). Now you must park some miles from the end of the road at (1220m) and walk the rest of the way steeply uphill - an unexpected additional to our planned walk. From the end of the road we climbed up towards the cloud heading for the Coll de Toro (2235m) passing through a meadow full of thistles, many bright blue and marmots.

The valley appears to be walled in on all sides but somehow a path finds a way through the steep walls, protected by cables. As we climbed higher we slowly emerged above the clouds and into the sun.

Susie bottom right

Eventually we arrived at the col and the Lac deth Coth deth Horo with superb views towards the Maladetta glacier and peaks (though Aneto is hidden behind the Tuca de Aiguallut from here).

I short descent took us to the beautiful valley that wraps around the Eastern side of the Maladetta between the striking forked peak of Forcanada (2885m) and the Alpine wilderness North of Tuc de Molieres (3010m) and Pico Margalida (3244m).

We wound our way slowly upwards past small tarns until a gentle climb along a fault line took us to the Col called Coth des Aranesi (2445m).

Forcanada ahead with the Coth des Arensesi in the foreground.

Tired? No!

The shrinking Maladetta glacier (tiny people visible bottom right amongst the boulders)

Marmot posing at the col, Forcanada behind

The start of the descent

The descent from the col back to Artiga de Lin was steep with a poor slippery path, first down scree then down through overgrown moraines, it seemed never ending and we were glad to finally reach the grassy meadow above the Artiga de Lin though the long walk along the road still remained before we reached our car.

The lake of the Estanhon des Pois where we soaked our feet and watched the fish jump

Looking back at the first part of the descent

After the lake still a long way down to the meadow

Looking back at the ascent of the Col de Toro

vendredi 29 juillet 2016

lundi 25 juillet 2016

Photos from last weeks flying visit

It was super hot last week (40 in the shade one day and off the thermometer in the sun). This photo above was at 8.00 in the evening. Still the warmth is at last drying out the chaux chanvre though I'm still a bit concerned that the St Astier chaux appears to be drying to a grey rather than white....we shall see.

The shower tray is installed and shower enclosure built... is the chimney, through the wall, floor and up to ceiling level.

A squirrel in Dartington Gardens

dimanche 17 juillet 2016

Who's at the door?

A brief return to France to meet with Rupert on his annual visit to the Ariege. Very hot (39 in the sun) with clear skies here. A new window for the front door (a reclaimed porthole) and hopefully time to finish the plasterboard and stud work in the shower and under the stairs before I leave on Wednesday.

lundi 4 juillet 2016

Port de Barlonguere

A day in the mountains for first time in 8 months. Surprisingly, I just noticed this is the same walk I did just over 2 years ago (17th July 2014) see here. Much less snow this year and I'm 30 mins slower, but that's not surprising given my inactivity in the mountains over the last few years!

It was blisteringly hot this morning and my dreams of storming up from the valley were quickly downgraded to a steady plod. Just like two years ago my plan had been to climb Pic les Trois Comtes and again I was too knackered. It's a steep haul to the Port de Barlonguere from Pla de Lau and in full sun most of the way. Crossing the river required taking socks and shoes off but this time it was only knee deep.

As I approached the Cabane de Barlonguere there were about 25 isards and I was able to get some great photos and videos. there were even a couple of young.

On leaving the cabane I met two young Frenchmen who had had an accident on the névés above the Etang Long. They were ill-equipped and inexperienced and without sticks or an ice-axe had found it very difficult climbing up to the Port de Barlonguere (perhaps 30 degrees). One of them had slipped and managed to drop his rucksack, which had slipped down the snow and was apparently irretreviable(?) He looked pretty shook up and was evidently too frightened to re-descend to get his bag (though when I met them back at Pla de Lau at the end of the day he said it had fallen under the snow and got wedged?). They said the névé had taken them completely by surprise and was extremely dangerous - they feared a fall would see them in the Etang Long! They asked me if they could call out the mountain rescue to get the bag!!

The reality was just the normal snow slope that persists here in June and July, though I seem to remember being surprised last time by people who were ill equipped for snow, trying to climb it and inviting an accident!

I searched everywhere but was unable to find the rucksack ( I had thought to collect it and carry it down to the Maison de Valier for collection).

 Looking down the névés from the Port de Barlonguere towards the Etang Long

The water in the Etang Long and the lower Etang Rond was deep, cold and beautifully blue. Between 2 and 3 the a few clouds rolled in and cooled the temperatures but not for long.

 Etang Long

 Etang Rond

By the time I reached the Cascade de Nerech it was sweltering again. I was surprised that other than the two frenchman the only other people I saw all day were climbing up to Estagnous Refuge very late in the day (or making very slow progress!).

By the time I got to St Girons it was crazy hot and humid but shortly after a big thunderdtorm rolled in and lasted most the evening.

dimanche 3 juillet 2016

Sun again

I was decided ill yesterday, but today the sun has shone and things feel better! I've reassembled the shed on it's new base and built some steps to access it from the wood shed. With the tractor I topped about half the field in front of the house and also finished off the main connections to the distribution board.