Thursday, 26 November 2009

Mount Fourcat? Not arf!

Last Friday, I got a phone call. Yes a pretty unusual event. It was my French family. Did I want to go for a short walk the next day as the weather was going to be good. I can do short walks, and I had enough food in to make myself a picnic, so I said yes. I also have shiny gold walking poles so I am very well equipped.

Saturday at 9:45 am we assembled and after stopping off at the Casino so that they could buy some bread and meat for their picnic, we set off in the direction of Tarrascon. Turning off the main road, we entered hairpin heaven. The single track road wound its way up the mountain and we eventually made it to the parking area. It was full, so we had to park at the side of the road.

The early morning chill had lifted and we set off, rucksacks on backs and me clutching my walking poles. We kicked our way along the crunchy path, beneath trees that had still to lose the last of their now golden leaves, examining the open pine cones scattered all over the path.

Hmmm this is getting a bit steep, I thought. We ploughed on up steep rock strewn, rutted tracks. Youngest child starts to moan. I’m too tired. There are tears. Much cajoling follows. We will soon be able to stop for lunch, its just over the next hill. They just don't make 8 year olds like they used to.

By the time we did stop, all three children were revolting. I had brought along a flask of hot water, and a jar of hot chocolate. This confirmed that I was completely barmy, but I had also brought along extra cups. The three children had a cup each, then two of them had another cup each, so I will never know if hot chocolate is a good thing after a long, hard climb. We all nestled into the undergrowth in a moderate, but not too cold wind.

All too soon it was time to set off again in an upward direction. Below us we could see the towns and villages of the region and the rivers snaking across the landscape. The sun was shining, the snow was glistening on the tops of the neighbouring Pyrenees mountains. As this was a short outing, the top couldn't be be much further?

The children started going on strike by sitting down and not moving. Threats of punishments to come were made while their father strode on in the distance.

I pointed out a patch of snow and interest was rekindled. Suddenly it was no hardship to travel hundreds of yards off-direction to get a closer look.

Eventually a much larger area of snow was found and C and the children stayed behind to “rest” whilst M and I headed for the top.

My legs were not happy and my knees were starting to complain, but M strode on and I followed more slowly in his wake with my now much lighter rucksack on my back.

We saw a shelter built of rocks with plastic sheeting for a roof and a good solid door. A shephard refuge? A mountain shelter? Across the path from that there was a long, low building with a green roof, which had people sitting outside in the sunshine.

We weren’t stopping to investigate. We kept on passing walkers coming downhill. A lady assured us that this was the last slope and then we would be at the top.

I should have taken her name and address. She lied!!!!

About half an hour later we did reach the top. It was bloody windy and we had the place to ourselves. Below us we could see a ski station on the slope of a neighbouring mountain.

We had conquered Mount Foucat! My usual walks have involved a rise in lever of around 300 metres. This walk involved 1000 metres. If only I had been giving this information before starting out......

Photographs were taken and we managed not to get blown off the peak.

Going back down was no fun. Yes, that dot on the left is me on the way down.

The legs and knees were really aching and the loose rocks and the rutted tracks were tiring and potentially dangerous. Interestingly we passed a man coming up accompanied by his dachsund!!???? Perhaps it had been a much taller dog with longer legs when they had set out.

20 minutes rejoined the rest of the family and continued down the mountain. I practiced swearing silently in English and wondering whether if I just sat down and refused to move, a helicopter would come and get me?

Some time later we split up, with the oldest 2 girls taking a path through the wood with their dad, while we took the flatter, but longer road route.

Some time later we spotted shadowy figures in the woods. They emerged carrying large, full, heavy plastic sacks of pine cones. The children like to throw them into the open fire in their living room, but it makes the inside of the chimney become covered in resiney soot.

The father ended up carrying 2 of the sacks, and I finally got landed with the third sack. Children!! No staying power.

Needless to say, it was a quick meal for me and then bed once we got back to town

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to send me your comments or suggestions