Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Lascuarre - Castigaleu

GR1 Sendero Historico day 34.
Distance: 16.3km (987.3km), time spent: 4:38.
Waymarking: Mostly completely absent.
Weather: Dark and gloomy.

When Oscar at the bar yesterday brought me the bleak news about the upcoming weather for the next days, I had to do a reassessment of my plans. In two days, the trail enters the Congost de Mont-Rebei and that is not a walk I want to be flushed away by rain, but that is not the only reason why I choose to just go a short part of the stage to Puente de Montañana today. The chance that the waymarking is good, is just as dark as the views for the weather. It is a long and hard walk there and the combination of bad weather and waymarking makes me little motivated to go all the way. The misery of yesterday is fresh in my mind. Also, I feel a little bit tired and a shorter day will probably do me well.

Gloomy weather when I exit Lascuarre.

I have therefore made an arrangement with Elena and Carlos, the wonderful hosts of Antigua Casa Catones, to pick me up at the road below a small chapel named Ermita de St. Antonio. Not only does this means a shorter day, it also means that I only have to walk with my small lightweight backpack. What I am looking forward to today is the polygonal tower in Luzás.

Small lonesome places.

From the time I walked out of the door, it became clear that I would not escape the problems of finding the route today either. To locate the GR1 from Lascuarre leads me to get another roundtrip in the village, before I have to turn back and ask Elena for help. She then leads me to the correct junction, where I yesterday should have arrived at Lascuarre from. Next to the bumpy gravel road there is a road sign telling me that it is 8.5km to Luzás. I am supposed to follow the gravel road all the way, after 5km the GR1 will leave it, but the guidebook recommends staying on the gravel road, the original path has apparently disappeared in the vegetation.

A desolate church before Luzás.

Covered by dark and somber clouds, I walk alone and quite uncertain whether I am on the right way or not, there exists no waymarks to follow, but there are enough of other gravel tracks that enters and exits the road that I am walking on. Deserted farms and some larger lonely places appears here and there, some lonely small places. I will cross another cañada real, but do not know when or where. If nothing else, this is a melancholic walk through an area the appear to be relatively desolate. Later on, a cool tower shows up in the view.

Standing at the foot of Castillo de Luzás looking up, a polygonal tower.

Luzás is not quite as I had expected it to be, but the tower makes me stop clear in my tracks. My impression of the tower may be enhanced given the dark clouds above, a grey polygonal tower that thrones above me. No way in, no one visible at least. Kind of like the mysterious tower that houses the library in The Name Of The Rose. The tower originates from the 11th. century. Invisible eyes looking down at you. I had a thought of setting up my tent here next to the tower for a while, but when I am here, I get a feeling that it might be somewhat invading on the village. From the village below, there are rock music.

Castillo de Luzás.

It gets worse after Castillo de Luzás. Navigation wise. Despite the fact that a signpost suddenly emerges from the undergrowth next to the gravel road a short time after, pointing me in the correct direction. Here the description in the guidebook is unfortunately somewhat inadequate, a short note telling me to continue on a gravel road for the next 3.8km. That is easier written than done, cause there are numerous detours. Waymarks are totally absent, even though I surprisingly enough finds a lonely waymark next to a junction telling me that I am on the proper way. The problem is that the trail not always are following the most obvious path. The trick is to follow the markings for a bike trail instead, BTT #10, it actually leads me to where the GR1 are crossing the road just next to a huge stack of hay. A castle of hay actually.

Looking back towards Luzás, the tower visible to the right.

The continuing route to the village of Castigaleu is actually easier to find, they have been more generous with the red and white paint here. The path is messy, but accessible. Some part of it are even going across something that resembles another lunar landscape. There is just a small part towards the end where the path is difficult to follow. When I arrive at Castigaleu, I realize that the time has run away from me, I have spent a considerable longer time than what I should have. Despite the lightweight backpack, the walking felt heavy.

I make an attempt at the route from Castigaleu, but here the trail has become lost again and I become diverted by some other paths. When I look at the clock, I am unsure if I will be able to find the path over to the chapel in time to reach the agreed upon time with Elena and Carlos. I decide to stop for the day, just outside Castigaleu. I walk back, calls Elena and tells her that I will be waiting for them here instead. I then eat the lunch I have brought with me, using some playground equipment as shelter. It has started raining. A local villager comes over to me and starts talking to me. He tells me that the trail from Castigaleu has been destroyed by the local farmers and is hard to find. He himself, is working on keeping an ancient way that goes through the village alive, he points down towards a very old bridge below. Talking with such dedicated people is something I appreciate when I am out walking. He tells me if there is anything, I can just come to his house (he is pointing towards it), I would have liked to do so.

The grey weather gives a picturesque light over an acre between Luzás and Castigaleu.

Elena and Carlos then arrives as agreed and picks me up. On the way back, a really windy tour down, they tell me that their plans to go to Graus for a celebratory dinner did not turn out. I had hoped to come with them, to get a closer look at the Basilica de la Virgen de la Peña. Back in Lascuarre, we have a beer in the bar, where I hear that Oscar last evening had travelled to Barcelona, gone to a disco, had breakfast in the morning and then driven back again. Outstanding. Outside, it is beginning to pour down.

Inside Basilica de la Virgen de la Peña.

The same rain is pounding heavily on Oscar’s car on the way to Graus, outside the world is grey. Oscar has said that he will drive me to Graus so that I get to see the basilica, something that I really think is too kind. Graus now feels sadder underneath the grey sky. Inside the church, I become a tiny bit disappointed, not because it is not nice inside, but probably because my expectations has been too high. The basilica looks so great out from the outside and I had expected something more special inside the walls. I am still pleased having seen the church.

Courtyard outside Basilica de la Virgen de la Peña.

On the return trip, we stop just outside Lascuarre, where I go to see the Torre de los Moros, while Oscar has to open up the bar. The walk there is almost like a continuous shower, but I am happy for the hot shower afterwards. Another outstanding dinner is served. Kurt Fridez, the person that is doing the restoration of Pano is on visit. Carlos has in addition a collection of books about the abandoned villages, with information about the houses and the people that lived in them, how many, and with pictures. Unfortunately, only in Spanish. Antigua Casa Catones (Old House Catones) is however an old building from the 16th. century, also restored by Kurt, with many of the old characteristics still intact, like arches, main girders, fireplaces and windows.

At the bar in Lascuarre, Oscar behind the counter.

In this afternoon and evening there are more people at the bar. And it is a fitting end to the day for my part as well. Elena, Carlos and Oscar has been wonderful acquaintances and hosts. When I was able to get the problems of finding the way out of my mind, the walk was otherwise pleasant enough, although it was not the most exciting. Castillo de Luzás was as expected the highlight underway. Tomorrow, I have a deal with the local taxi driver to get me back to Castigaleu, from there I will go through the bad weather to Puente de Montañana, that will be exciting.

<- LascuarreTorre de los Moros ->

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