Thursday, October 6, 2016

Embalse de Arguis - Nocito

GR1 Sendero Historico day 28.
Distance: 21.9km (806.4km), time spent: 6:49.
Waymarking: Good.
Weather: Cloudy in the start, then great.

Then even more history came to light. Not in the shape of old towers and castles, but by where people has chosen to live and the traces of them after they abandoned their houses and villages. The route from Arguis to Nocito goes through a remote valley inhabited by ghosts and takes you deep into the scenic beauty of Parque Natural de la Sierra y Cañones de Guara.

A remote valley, view below Mesón Nuevo.

It looks like a battlefield outside the rooms in the floor under my room, the workers has done a thorough job of the breakfast, which stands ready for them in the morning. I have better time at hand and can enjoy a large and good breakfast before I keep company with the clouds seeking downwards from Sierra de Gratal. The grey weather still holds a firm grip on the sky.

Graveyard, house and church in the near-abandoned village Belsué.

To get back to the trail, I first have to go up to Arguis, which looks like a sleepy, but pleasant village. At first, I walk the wrong way, but is not long after on the right way up into the hills, with a view somewhat marred by the highway. If you remove all human paraphernalia, it would have been a nice climb up from Sierra de Gratal with its lunar landscape.

View back of Belsué.

Below Mesón Nuevo (which is anything but new), a remote valley spreads out, which veritably laments its grief, it carries all the evidence of being abandoned. Even the clouds has left the valley itself, I can see the mountains around and the melancholic scenery the route passes through, the weather matches the area well. The ruins of a small chapel is the first thing that I encounter, Ermita de los Linares. In one of the corners, there is a large gaping wound in the roof.

The ruins of Santa Maria de Belsué.

Still, the valley is not entirely deserted; there is still signs of life in the small village of Belsué. The place is semi-abandoned, but someone are still holding out. I wonder how it is to live in a place where more and more houses around you falls into decay. Even the staircase up to the bell tower of the church, which is dedicated to St. Martin, has fallen together with vegetation growing in its wake. Leaving a door left standing almost in mid-air. Here, the highway, which is close, feels far away.

Inside the ruins of the church in Santa Maria de Belsué.

The area around is open and dominated by gorse. The days of prosperity has long gone from this valley, something the ruins of large farm, Paridera de Ascaso, bear witness to. From a distance, it does not look that way, but up close, you see that the main building has collapsed inside. Below, a small river is running, which on warmer days could lure you out for a swim. The small river runs out into Río Fulmen, which again runs out into Embalse de Santa Maria de Belsué. There are no traces of the water in the lake, the reservoir looks like a large green meadow, even the lakes here are abandoned and in ruins.

A view of ruins, Santa Maria de Belsué.

To wander in this deserted valley is a haunting, exhilarating and quaint experience; alone, with no signs of other people. Only the ghosts left. Lonesome and melancholic buildings that greets you, a church without a roof, as in Santa Maria de Belsué. I eat lunch inside the church, by the altar, where there still is roof above my head. The only rain of the day came when I walked between the forsaken houses. After the small rain, the clouds has become so light that they slowly rises and disappears into an open sky. The path is also slowly rising up towards Lúsera.

One of the first abandoned villages you get to on the trail, Lúsera.

Low fences of stone guides you up to the precarious ruins of Lúsera. The church is the first building you come to, behind lies the shells of the remaining houses in the village. It has probably been a while since there was a sermon in the church. How safe the houses are, or the remnants of them, are somewhat uncertain, but I cannot keep from exploring the place. Mostly it is just the walls that are left. I do not enter into any of the buildings. I wonder how it would be to come here, if you are a descendant of someone who has spent their lives here. Then I discover that I am not alone, that there is actually some who has taken abode in the abandoned village, but who that is I cannot see. Looking back at the village, I see that it is clinging on to the upper side of a slope.

View back after Lúsera, the village is at the top of the slope.

The trail from there goes steep up to and down from two passes, Collado de Santa Coloma and Collado Barbero. Behind lies Santa Maria de Belsué and Lúsera. A view of ruins. Tozal de Guara (2078m), the highest mountain in the park, makes its entry in the skyline.

View of Tozal de Guara from Nocito.

Nocito is a tiny village situated in the mountain-shadow of Tozal de Guara. I decide to quit for the day when I arrive there, something that I would come to regret a little shortly afterwards. It would have been better to continue on and find a place to camp, so to cut down on the hard day that now awaits me tomorrow. I also felt that it was too early to stop, but still I stayed. When I have come to terms with it, I feel better and can relax.

Inside the small store of Casa Ortas Albás in Nocito.

And perhaps it was for the best, to get some shorter days as well. Casa Ortas Albás offers hospitality, good food and a place outside to relax at, together with a well-assorted store in the basement. A falcon lands on a chimney further down. There is not a cloud in the sky, the night will be chilly. I have the whole camping site to myself, but has a small room that I withdraw to when it has become dark and cold. Outside it is quiet; I wait for the animal cries in the night.

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