Monday, October 24, 2016

Sant Joan de les Abadesses - Oix

GR1 Sendero Historico day 46.
Distance: 31.1km (1342.5km), time spent: 8:52.
Waymarking: Usually good, but the trail has been rerouted before Sant Pau de Segúries.
Weather: Nice, but a little rain in the evening.

Parque naturel de L’Alta Garrotxa, a name that made my expectations high when it came to the surroundings I would enter after Sant Pau de Segúries. The area is know for its conical mountains, ruins of ancient volcanoes. Expectations are not always kept and today they made an otherwise nice walk feel worse than it actually was. It must be said that my expectations, met with fantasies of fire breathing volcanoes, was founded on wrong grounds. During the day, I also got a shock of an altogether different kind, but it was not lava that stood behind it.

A walk underneath a pastel coloured sky in the morning after Sant Joan de les Abadesses.

Something did not go right when I checked the time table for the bus back to Sant Joan de les Abadesses. For at the time I wanted to go there was no bus leaving Ripoll, but when my taxi drives onto the road out from Ripoll, there is a bus driving in front of it. Wasted money. The morning above the wonderful bridge and small town carries with it a sky full of pastel colours, between the veils of clouds drifting across it, the closest I get to a volcano eruption this day. Anyway, it is a nice start of the walk.

Route crossing an almost dry ford, with stepping logs to walk on when the water runs higher.

Underneath the pastel sky in the beginning, the trail reminds me of the Camino, also here the trail goes down in the valley like out of Ripoll, only that here the road is further away. This enhances the enjoyment along the route considerably. With the exception of when the trail forgot itself and climbed up into the hills before Sant Joan de les Abadesses, the GR1 keeps down in the valley bottom between Ripoll and Sant Pau de Segúries. The trail is follow old thoroughfares, so that is probably the reason, but I must say that my thoughts seeks up towards the mountains at times. Beyond that, it is a pleasant walk past small farms and cultural landmarks. When the sun rises on the sky, the pastel colours are expelled, replaces by a blue colour.

Camino Historico? Parts of the route between Sant Joan de les Abadesses resembled Sant Pau de Segúries the scenery of the Camino.

When I am approaching Sant Pau de Segúries, the trail has been rerouted and creeps up into the hills to the south of the road instead of following the north side of the road further, as described in the guidebook. Confusing at the start, but since it brings me up into a quieter forest than the original trail would have done, it seems like a ok reroute. Sant Pau de Segúries does not appear to rouse my interest from where the route enters the small town, but it does offer me the possibility to get myself a coffee, a coke and something small to eat.

View of La Vall del Bac.

GR1 then continues into L’Alta Garrotxa and La Vall del Bac, the surroundings becomes at once more calm where the nature can breathe more freely. Now there are even more autumnal colours to trace on the trees. You have to walk a little on an empty road in the beginning, but afterwards the route leaves the road for never to return to it (except to cross it once later). It is a tranquil valley, with some few farms here and there, the trail stays down in the valley. Pleasant for the eyes, but also with small hints of boredom.

Dense trees with vines makes it like a jungle down in La Vall del Bac.

Where the path crosses the Riera de la Vall del Bac river, one or more farmers has put up enclosures with electrical fences around. The route passes straight through these fences by gates by unhooking the conductive wires. At one of these gates, I receive a jolt of electricity. As I hook back on the handle, I startle as I feel electricity go through my body, the shock comes out of the blue and is incredible unpleasant. Something is not right about how this fence has been set up, since I was holding the rubber-handle when I got the jolt. Pissed off, I walk on.

At the next gate, I encounter another problem, here the wire is strung up so tight and the hook on the handle bent so much that I am unable to get the handle off. So here I stand frustrated on the wrong side of a conductive fence that will not let me through. Finally, I manage to rip the handle off with the aid of some solid small branches, I sling the crap to the ground, which lies crackling ominously. Even more pissed off than before, I consider letting it lie on the ground and thinks that if I come to another gate I will break it down using branches and trees. Still, unsure how wise it is to leave the conductive handle behind on the ground, I get back to work trying to get it on again. Which I manage after a while, but also here I felt on my hand that there was an electrical current on its way to be formed just before I got it hooked back on. Crap.

A remote farm in a quiet valley as seen from higher up.

If nothing else, I am now wide awake, a lot of tension arrived. The route climbs up from the bottom of the valley with the sun shining through the trees, for then to follow a forest track to Llongarriu. A small hamlet with just a few houses, the usual chapel and three donkeys that eyes me sleepily curious. The trail passes over to some few houses where the road once again is crossed, where I eat lunch at nice stony bench next to a small water source. From there, I walk up into the part of the trail that pleased me most on this day, up into a hill on a clear path with branches and trees hanging above me like a tunnel. With views down to the valley below to small farms in between, and further in the direction of the valley, covered by trees. On the way, I come to a square pillar standing in the middle of the path, an altar dedicated to Sant Isidre.

Walking on a distinct path underneath a tunnel of trees.

Curious sculptures and things in a farm yard meets in in Toralles, in between cliffs the trail continues past enclosed acres and fields. Where the landscape is comfortable, my feet is anything but, on the last part to Oix my feet are screaming loud. Also in the heaven there are changes at large, the otherwise nice weather is now threatened by grey clouds coming over the mountains. Oix is a wonderful small village, but it is quiet in the streets. Hostal de la Rovira is added to the list of great places to stay along the trail, it is a pleasant place with a comfortable atmosphere.

An altar in the woods dedicated to Sant Isidre.

Outside the village there is a bride that I want see and I want to visit it before the sky changes character. Outside, it has suddenly became dark and imminent rain would not be surprising. Pont Romá d’Oix is a thin and high arched bridge from the Middle Ages. According to the myths, the bridge was used by the local baron to parade women about to be married, to decide if he would carry out his right as a feudal lord and hereby get the first night with the bride (I almost wrote bridge here). The dark ages indeed. The bridge however, is a beautiful small bridge (not bride), with the walkway on the top partly covered by green grass. From the top of the bridge, you can look up at a large manor, perhaps where the baron lived once upon a time. In the picture in the guidebook, you can see the mountains in the background, but now it is overgrown around the bridge and little visibility. A small river with little water runs underneath the bridge.

Pont Romá d'Oix.

The rain arrives in the afternoon and evening, a light rain. Despite the ominous clouds, there is never a serious downpour, but given the dark clouds it is nice to sit inside the cosy lounge at the place. Though, I do take me a small walk around the village in the evening, under the illumination from the lights in the street. There are not many guest around the dinner tables, few guests at this time of the year probably, but the dinner is very good. A local dish based on gratinated meat as a starter, salted cutlets as the main dish and cheese with honey as dessert. Also at the place is a Japanese who has earlier hiked the GR11, now he is walking part of the GR1, but are in between jumping between places using buses and taxis. The hostess are challenging us to eat berries from local bush, where eating more than four berries can be dangerous. A nice day, although some of the walk was of the ordinary kind.


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