Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hostal Roig - Massanès

GR1 Sendero Historico day 38.
Distance: 25.6km (1105.6km), time spent: 7:50.
Waymarking: Mostly good, but some bad deficiencies.
Weather: Clear blue sky and sunny.

History repeats itself it is said and it took only one day for it to do so. Today’s stage did not appear to have any other purpose than to get you from one place to another, but contained some few horizons that elevated the day somewhat. One of them was Roc de Benavent, where again the trail went underneath the cliffs instead on top of them, with the views that entails.

Hostal Roig, once upon a time a place to sleep for travellers.

Since I had spent the night in an apartment, it felt proper to prepare and eat my breakfast there; the apartment did contain all that I needed of kitchen equipment. It was also quite comfortably to be able to relax inside it yesterday evening with some beers as well. On the way back up again to Hostal Roig and the GR1, it was once again through steep cliffs and turns, the climbers were early up they too. A relatively fun fact, the taxi driver came from the small village Matasolana on the other side down from Hostal Roig, and had lived at the closed antique hostel when he was young. Inside Hostal Roig, there are only a couple of sheep that stares sheepishly at me, no guests.

Montsec de Rùbies.

It is the nice weather that brings the most joy to the start of the day. The trail loses itself in the woods and hills to the west of Montsec de Rùbies for the most part. Montsec de Rùbies can be seen rising up from the ground, almost like someone had cut out a large circle in the ground and pushed down one side of it, like a dish, so that the other side become lifted up. Before that, I had met a nice couple that offered me a cup of coffee when I came strolling past them, on the lookout for where the route hid itself after leaving the road going down from Hostal Roig. Sometimes the waymarks finds it amusing to just turn up after you have passed a junction.

View from Coll de Comiols. To the right, Roc de Benavent with Benavent de la Conca below. In the background, the Pyrenees with some white snowy peaks.

To locate where the trail goes on top of the hill is another guessing game, with a fifty percent chance to pick the correct way, I picked the wrong way. The view is now turned forward and towards the row of cliffs above Benavent de la Conca. After a walk in the woods, past a small chapel and a farm that provides accommodation for educational groups (Centre Casal de Colònies ‘Bon Repòs’), I arrive at a road. Shortly after having followed the road a while, I meet again the Spanish couple (they are driving). I get some more coffee and with me in my backpack, I now carry a bottle of beer as well.

The village of Benavent de la Conca is situated underneath the characteristic cliff called Roc de Benavent.

After the three wonderful, but hard, previous days, this day feels kind of like getting down to earth again. Can walk with lowered shoulders then, this is a day without any expectations. I just walk, content. There is a view at Coll de Comiols, nice, but somewhat less prominent. Snow is still lying on the highest peaks in the Pyrenees. At the pass, I drink the beer I got and eat lunch. From the pass, the GR1 descends down to Benavent de la Conca on a path that does everything it can to hide itself in the vegetation, there is an also path going on top of the cliffs that you can follow.

An eye to the sky in the cliffs of Roc de Benavent.

Here I decides to follow the GR1 and goes down to the village underneath the cliffs, I quickly regret it when I am down, but down under the cliffs there are no path or road back up to the top of them again. Without turning around and going back up to Coll de Comiols. Benavent de la Conca cannot be called anything but sleepy. There is a small hole in the cliffs above, a small peephole to the sky. When the trail decides to climb back up, towards Grau de Moles, it becomes more exciting again. The horizons from Grau de Moles are the best so far, with Montsec de Rùbies the easiest to spot, as it stands out from the rest of the surroundings. In the background, there is also another interesting sight, the gorge that the Congost de Mont-Rebei goes through.

View from Grau de Moles. In the horizon, you can see both Montsec de Rùbies and Montsec d'Ares. All back in the horizon to the right, you can see the rift where Congost de Mont-Rebei is located.

That the GR1 goes below Roc de Benavent and its rocks does not feel like the same great disappointment as the incredible discovery yesterday, but it does not prevent me from thinking that it is another odd choice of trail planning. If it is not so important for you to follow the trail slavishly, in a very purist spirit, I would also here recommend taking the route that goes on top of the cliffs instead of the GR1 below. Also of the simple reason that you do not get any specific reward from the descent and the pursuing climb afterwards, it feels unnecessary. Standing at Grau de Moles, the top of the cliffs looks far more exciting.

A large abandoned farm building in the empty scenery between Grau de Moles and Massanés.

From Grau de Moles, the trail goes down through an empty landscape. It is empty of waymarks also, but here it is relatively easy to pick the correct way through the junctions that appear. The usual ruins of deserted farms adorns the sides of the valley. On the other side of the valley from me, there are also remains of a small chapel, abandoned places that becomes forgotten and vanish. I can see the area that awaits me tomorrow to the east of me. It is a little bit of a walk through the empty scenery here, but it is perhaps the part of the day that I enjoy the most. At the end of the emptiness lies Masia Massanès.

On top of a hill on the other side of the valley, the remnants of a small chapel emerges from the woods.

Isolated on top of a hill, you find this little place. I am the sole guest, in return it is a teeming animal-life outside. Tame, mind you, but still. However, my stay here is anything but what I had expected. It turns out that the hosts has to leave. That I am the only guest may have made it possible for them to do so. In the end, it poses no problems for me. They let me order dinner and everything I want available of drinks, then they lock and drive away, leaving me behind alone. I got everything I need. The entrance to my cosy room is from outside, from the front yard of the place.

The front yard of Masia Massanès.

The dinner is exquisite, but since they have left, I have to heat it up myself when I want to eat. For that, they have opened up a large room that contains a kitchen, which I also can sit and eat inside of. I decided upon a pancake with mushrooms and a great sauce as a starter, deer stew as main course and caramel pudding for dessert. Since I have to heat up the food myself, I do not have to pay full price for the meal. It feels almost, but just almost, like I have made the food myself.

Animals outside Masia Massanès, I was quite charmed by the tiny rabbits.

When it gets too chilly and cold outside, I withdraw into my room. To sit alone up there is a strangely experience. It is very quiet and when I look out into the darkness, there is not much that I can see, there are almost no lights visible. From time to time, there are some low howling from the dogs outside, I take it as a sign that there are some kind of wild animal getting close. What ways and endings this walk brings me to

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