dimanche 26 août 2018

Winnowing the quinoa

Susie's quinoa has been drying for a few days now, so today with a very light breeze we winnowed it to remove the chaff. We only had a dozen plants so a kilo or so of quinoa.

The ceps keep on coming this year!

Our neighbour gave us a loom that had been in pieces in his attic for 25 years. After working out how to assemble it, making a few missing pieces and a warping frame, we 're hoping to start our first weaving project soon.

mercredi 22 août 2018


Susie spotted this dragonfly freshly emerged from its pupae this morning, still drying its new wings in the sun. Other species of dragonfly are still darting around the pond.

This year as well as kiwis which are still ripening on the bush, we have just tasted our first figs - delicious!

mardi 21 août 2018

Flamisella adventure - Pic de Lleia

Sheri and Michiel had the urge to get into the hills and together with Susie and I we hatched a plan. Alun and Breezy were also game so the six of us set off from Ossese (980m) on Sunday morning bound for the Port d'Aliot.

Rather than follow the direct but vague path through the cliffs as Susie and I had done last year, I thought we'd follow the original path which crosses the river higher up the valley and cuts back under the cliffs to join the direct path higher up. A tricky river crossing got us into the upper valley and after the short steep climb to the Colette de la Portère we could see the path on the other side of the river at Fonta and also where it joined the other path high on the hillside - but in between there was nothing.

A long and very steep slog through bilberries and heather eventually got us to the path, not easy with big packs. We could now follow the red path markers to the Cabane de Bonrepos though there is no discernible path.

At Bonrepos we stopped for lunch before continuing to follow the red markers until the path crosses the ravine heading for the Cabane Marterat. Here we left the markers behind and started the 500m climb on compact rocks and scree to the Col d'Aliot (2552m). The clouds rolled, but we had occasional brief glimpses of the col above.

It was with some relief that we eventually gained the col. The wind was blowing but a few matres down on the Spanish side and we were out of the wind and in the sun.

The next task was to find somewhere to camp we checked out four lakes as we descended into Spain and decided the lowest was the best - Etang Flamisella.

The wind was blowing again but we found a relatively sheltered site for the tents and got on with dinner. Collectively we had brought a regal meal - courgette bhajis, dahl, Thai green curry, noodles, wine, chocolate and a whiskey nightcap!

Next morning Susie and I were first up and we made a tour of the lake before rejoining the others.

Breakfasted and packed, we were away by nine, heading back towards the col. We dumped our sacks a little below, then continued upward to gain the ridge 50m or so above the col.

On the ridge the French side was still patchy clouds, whilst the Spanish side was bright sunshine and we each had a brocken spectre.

The ridge is narrow without being too exposed and it was a lovely scramble to the summit of Pic de Lleia (2771m).

From the summit lovely views of Pic de Lasaugede, Montabone and Certescan cradling Lago Guerosso also called Etang Blanc.

We descended by more or less the same route to collect our bags and continue to Port de Materat. From my trip in Oct 2009 I recalled being able to get from one col to other without much difficulty and a spanish map shows a path. We somehow missed the path and ended up high above the Estany del Port staring down vertical cliffs. (In retrospect I ignored a path that seemed to be heading to the ridge just west of Pic de Marterat, but was in fact heading for a col that opens the route to the Pert de Materat).

We decided to descend to the lake and soon found an easy path through pines.

Lunch at the lake before a short climb to the Port de Materat 200m above us.

We crossed back in France, passed the Cabane de Materat and in 2 hours 30 minutes we were back at the cars. A well earned in beer in Ustou rounded off the trip.

vendredi 17 août 2018

Pic des Trois Comptes

We set out from Pla da Lau at 9.00 and made quick progress up into the vallée de Peyralade. No problem crossing the river after the cabane and the even the climb upto the cabane de Barlonguère went fairly easily. 

Cascades in La Cassade

Just below the cabane de barlonguère

It was hot by now and it was a relief to reach the Port de Barlonguere 2400m and get some fresh breeze coming up from the Etang Long far below. Here we turned right and after the following the ridge for a few hundred metres we dropped to the right to make a col to the right of Tuc Blanc 2588m;

Tuc blanc from the Port de Barlonguère

The views from here are spectacular - particularly into Spain towards Aneto, Posets and the Encantats. We dropped to the col at 2524m (the last I was here was 25 years ago), where susie took a rest whilst I nipped up Pic des Trois Comptes 2689m. The views from here are even more spectacular.

Pic des Trois Comptes

From the summit looking towards Pico Aneto

From the summit looking towards the East summit

I rejoined Susie at the col and we returned to the Port de Barlonguère, this time on the other side of Tuc Blanc with great views towards Mont Valier and Pic de la Pale de Clauère above Etang Long.

We descended steeply to Etang Long and skirted the Lake, watching the trout rising for flies in the crystal clear blue waters.

We ate the last of our lunch at the outfall of the lake gazing down to the Etang Rond far below, past which I descent lay. From there the normal route down past the Cascade Nerech and finally after 9 hours of walking the car. About 1750m of height gain and a grand day out.

Etang Rond from above...

...and below.

dimanche 12 août 2018

Cascade d'Arcouzan

We'd planned a long walk up to Barlonguère, but a poor nights sleep and continued hot and humid weather persuaded us to have a lazy morning and in the afternoon we strolled up the Vallée d'Estours to the cascade d'Arcouzan.

Glacier d'Arcouzan

Cascade d'Arcouzan

Yesterday, we had an enormous but brief storm, which dumped over 12cm of rain in an hour including some prolonged hail downpours with hailstones the size of marbles. The road and the path to the gite were rivers, the pond overflowed and we had water in the house and gite...as did all our neighbours. The plants in the garden were shredded by the hail or flattened by the water and wind. Half a mile away the storm was nothing exceptional.