Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Magic Achieved by Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

Hiking in toadstool heaven.
What we saw all day....just beautiful!

Ah the Pyrenees. A prescription for beautiful views, challenging hikes, sore toes and knees, friendly fun and in the end, a well deserved Spanish beer.

Well marked trails
Bert tells us how to "get 'er done."

The pre-hike instructions from our fearless leader.
We started our hike today in the Andorran village of Ransol and walked to the Valle de Riu--the valley of the River. 450 meters height gained, eight miles covered and 5 hours of gorgeous!
As spots in the road for unloading hikers, this one isn't too bad. I wish you could hear the rushing water.
We started by trekking upward for about an hour and a half. The mountains were great and we were accompanied constantly by beautiful wildflowers. We were told  we wouldn't see any fauna (which is true, unless you count horses, cows and an occasional bird and plenty of insects like flies, bees and grasshoppers.) But the variety of small flowers was really astounding.
We saw lots of varieties of mushrooms.

The blue bells were plentiful and amazing.

These were pink. The high sun didn't do them justice.
There was really no end of the beautiful wildflowers and it was hard to capture all of them. We didn't know the names, like we would at home, but it didn't subtract from our enjoyment.
These yellow sunflower looking plants were low to the ground and plentiful.
Again, most of the wildlife we saw were insects, but it was hard to capture all the small butterflies on film
An exception to the rule.
We had several stops at unmanned "refuge stations" in the forests and meadows including one at lunchtime.
Paul enjoys a ploughman's lunch at a refuge station.
We followed this stream or river most of the way on the hike
We did NOT enjoy our hiking down the slate however. This reminded us of a day in England where we walked down the slippery Honister slate mines in rain. At least today it was dry and less slippy.

We walked past the abandoned village of Upper Canillo. We found many abandoned farm structures along the way. Apparently, the Andorrans were originally farmers, but gave up much of their land to the skiing industry and European "banking."
We found many buildings in ruins, but the ones in upper Canillo were in good condition.

We passed a Romanesque church from the 12th century, but couldn't go in. Closed until later in the day. Bert told us that since Christianity wasn't popular at first, the churches were meant to resemble caves, small, stone and with small windows so no one could look in and see. This one was in Canillo. Interestingly, the Archbishop of Urquell in Northern Spain is still a part of the government of Andorra.
Romanesque Church of Canillo.
 After lots of climbing and descent through a meadow of slate and cows, we arrived in Canillo to our just reward:
Hikes in Andorra aren't like hikes in USA...never very far from a cafe....7 or 8 miles at the most.
I think we earned it!
San Miguel. Beer is more expensive than wine here.
So all in all, a sun shiny day with beautiful walks and scenery and lovely company of newfound friends--proving once again, there is magic in placing one foot in front of the other.

Paul's Ponderings:  Great day out in the Pyrenees!   We found it a bit tough due to the lack of preparation as opposed to last year when we hiked across the UK, but all good.   The downhill was tough due to the slate, etc and the altitude was a factor, when we ended up at about 7000 feet.   However, the weather was great and the scenery spectacular.   When we got back to the hotel, we took a nap, a shower, and then went to dinner, which was in our case Catalan food of great abundance and some Spanish wines.    The distance is less than last year on a daily basis, but the climbs are pretty tough and the altitude is more than the UK, so it's a different experience overall.  We do have the advantage tonight of having no loud mariachi bands near the hotel paying tribute to Saint Bartholemew, which they did last night until 2 am!   Tomorrow we are looking at another day of hiking, followed by a rest day, which will no doubt be welcome.



  1. Love the photos! I'm so glad you're having a great time, wish I was there! Although, don't remember Spanish beer being good, I'm sure we were snobbish German beer drinkers and sneered at Spanish beer. But as I recall, the wine was fabulous.

  2. I enjoy going on these journeys with you.

  3. Yes Sharon, I believe the Germans are better brewers and have more variety, but a cold San Miguel at the end of a hike was still welcome! No sneering, just beering! Sheila,so glad if you enjoy any of the photos. It's slightly higher in elevation here but in many ways it reminds us of home and our wonderful friends in Tennessee!