This time last year, and well into March in fact, I did little but moan about struggling around in snowshoes on our Sunday walks. Here’s a picture I took on March 4th last year.
And here we are on February 23rd 2014, enjoying full-on Spring. These are shots of some of our daffodils in the garden, taken today.
Today, Joseph led us on a walk from the foot of Montségur to the Roc du Banquels. It’s one of those walks where from Step One, you’re climbing, ever upward. We whinged about it, and one of our number, who’d gone and left his hiking boots in a carrier bag in the car park at Laroque (you know who you are, M.rc.l) even had to jump ship.
Ever onward, ever upward. It was warm though, and we brushed past trees covered not in snow as last year, but with tightly-furled leaves about to burst into growth, and catkins. Eventually, as we reached a height of some 1,200 metres, we did reach snow underfoot. It wasn’t very deep though, and walking through it wasn’t too much of a challenge.
Our efforts were rewarded. As we panted up the final slope, we saw before us, clearly defined against a bright blue sky, a large and craggy rock over which juniper bushes straggled . This was our destination. We ditched our sacs and walking batons in favour of scrambling up those final few metres, searching for tiny footholds and clumps of juniper to help us on our way. There far below was the summit of Montségur. Beyond it, Laroque, St. Quentin. In another direction, the lac de Montbel, its usual Mediterranean blue. Look towards the Aude, and looming out of the mist was the immense peak of Bugarach. It’s nearly 60 km away, but is so imposing that it makes its presence felt even at this distance.
We sat awhile, enjoying our magnificent vantage point and the warm sun. Heigh ho, time to go – before the sun sets behind the mountains and we all start feeling cold. Going down’s always quicker than climbing up.
We almost scuttled down the slopes, and were taking our boots off ready for our short ride home just as the sun began to drop behind the high peaks. An excellent afternoon.