Sunday, September 29

Faja de los Flores

The BEST one-day trek I have ever done in my life (and I've done a few)! Here's the link to all the photos.

It is a 16 km, ~1100 m elevation trek that goes through a pasture (A PASTURE!!!) of edelweiss (hence the name flores). Now edelweiss is my favorite flower but this is not the only reason why I'm so psyched: in Romania it is very very rare and it is illegal to pick it - I would presume the same here: it certainly grows in utterly remote areas.

Throughout our Pyrenees treks, I've been carrying two rocks in my backpack, in order to train with weights. Meet Humpty and Dumpty. For this trek, I left Dumpty home as he was a bit heavy.

The start.

The trek starts through a beautiful little forest that is reached if you walk 400m back from the parking lot, at the old information center - Circo de Carriata is our destination!!

The forest is beautiful! Not only that, but it is full of hazelnut trees.

We feasted on the hazelnuts for a while:
And when I say for a while, I mean until we didn't find any more. 

As you get out of the forest, you see this! One sees this from the valley floor but seeing it up close is totally different. I think the peak on the left is Tozal del Mallo.

This is the view behind you.

After we feasted on the hazelnuts, we proceeded to feast on raspberries!!!!

The middle.

We then reached this middle point, where apparently one has to choose between going left on "Clavitas" (iron pitons) or right on "Fajetas" (a gigantic traverse). We r climbers so we took the iron pitons. They were nothing fantastic, but of course, this is in retrospect:

Scramble, scramble and we're up:

We are headed for up there, where "up there" is the most prominent horizontal line towards the top of the wall.

This is how it looks from the side, one hour later (excluding lunch):

In some places the path is really really narrow, but that is not the problem (if you do not have a head for heights)

The problem is the sheer drop to eternity in some places. In all the places there is a sheer drop to eternity, but in some, it is most obvious:

The local fauna is charming:

But what really leaves you breathless are the views:

Of course, in all of this (the balcony goes for 3.7 km of sheer drops to the right, and also, OMG so beautiful - also to the right), we took our own sweet time to fool around and take GPS coordinates of the trek:

And then Marian spotted the first edelweiss and I did not stop squealing, even as we were descending on this stoopid scree:

And then we met the edelweiss pasture and my squeals turned into screams:

At some point we met this Swiss couple who were so scared that they would not make it in time, that the only thing they did when they stopped was to check their map (they were actually kind of freaked that we did not have any map - we had GPS coordinates, because, 2013 bitches!) (also because we were completely unprepared, having only just read the descriptions of the route - in Spanish - but determined to wing it). So the couple were so attentive to their map that they did not see the marmots, the eagles, nor the goats. THE GOATS!

The end.

As we descended into the pasture below the scree with the edelweiss pasture, we were greeted by mountain goats! Waterfalls! More goats!

More waterfalls:

More goats (actually, the same one as before, she was really really curious as to what the hell we were doing there)

More waterfalls:

And then we met the via ferrata traverse.

It was not much but it was exciting. The Swiss couple at this point were moderately freaked and, despite being faster than us (I was carrying Humpty and was soo slow), they were not as experienced scramblers. It starts off with a chainy traverse (The chains were superiorly well maintained!)

But then the chains are augmented by pitons, mainly because of this:

As you can see behind Sandra, there is indeed eternity back there and not many many footholds! This is the only difficult section of the route - the excitement lasts for about thirty seconds, but still, you truly become the chain's best friend:

You descend again through as series of pitons that is behind me in the above shot: no problems for you if you are tall! If you're short like San and I, you will need to free climb in some places, because I think the people that drilled the pitons were giants!

After this, there's a descend through a forest full of dead wood (not so interesting as the first forest), and,  as dinner is in your thoughts (it took us 9 hours to do this!), you are only focused on getting down asap! Which you do eventually, after meeting the start of the route:

And, if you've read this far, this is what was blocking our road on our way to dinner:

Tuesday, September 24

One picture Tuesday

The Dali museum. Life is better with eggs and Abraham Lincoln.

San and I will go on a cruise

... When we're sixty or so. Here's our schedule for our fourteen day cruise:

Day 2: we start an internal pull-up competition 
Day 3: we finish all the books we had brought with us. We start running around the ship anti-clockwise.
Day 4: we sneak into the kitchen and relieve the cook of some utensils 
Day 5: the challenge for today is to replace salt with sugar in all the salters in the dining room
Day 7: we turn blanditarian and puritanian: we inform the cook that our food cannot have salt or oil and at it cannot be touched by human hands
Day 8: today we switch all the name cards in the dining room
Day 10: we change the running direction to clockwise
Day 11: our pull up competition goes ship wise: losers have to jump ship
Day 12: we have finished reading the labels off all objects on the ship
Day 13: the captain moves us to the lifeboats, where we re-enact life of Pi
Day 14: we see the shore and jump, realizing only when it's too late that San can't swim. Wait. Neither can I.

Friday, September 20

Spain. Because.

I registered for a half marathon.

I do not know why I did that. Maybe because one of my students said that girls run slower than men and then it was ON! Maybe because I should get back into running. Because I SHOULD get back into running. Because 2015 is looming. Sigh.


Which is the perfect time for a holiday!!!!

And when I say holiday, I mean Ordesa National Park because what completely remote and rocky and exposed place can one find in Spain?!

Life without internet will be oh so good.

Oh and I really love it how the security guards do not question your presence in an office on Friday at 9 pm even though
a) you are playing rammstein at full blast.
b) you dress, look, and swear like a student
c) you are doing pullups on the office door

Tuesday, September 17

One picture Tuesday

The new lens, I lurvs its!! The new belay glasses, I lurvs it!! (thank you San!)