GR11 Hiking

Day 38: Change of Scenery

Kilometres walked: 28km  / Total distance: 705km / Elevation gain:  886m / Elevation loss: 1644m / Time walked: 7h01min

In the morning I set out from the hotel on my own, after having a long breakfast with Paul and Maria. It’s Maria’s birthday today, and they’re taking a rest day in town.

Yesterday was the last day of the high mountains. We joked that from here on it’ll be all downhill, but the first climb out of Setcases proved us wrong.

Mushrooms

The woods are busy, there are lot of people out for mushroom picking. It seems that if you’re a Catalan man (I didnt see a single woman) aged 45 to 70, it is mandatory to head out into the woods with a wicker basket and only come back when it’s full with edible mushrooms. Indeed there are lots of mushrooms growing. I wish I knew how to identify them and which ones are edible.

The pass above Setcases, with two men and their baskets. Also, the green hills are back!

The descent to Molló is long, easy and exposed. The clouds from yesterday have disappeared and with every step towards lower elevation the temperature is rising.

Old GR11 sign leading the way to Molló

Just before Molló I cross the road I used to cross the Pyrenees by bike all the way back in 2015 (North to South crossing, so a lot shorter) and it brings back memories of that trip. Although I don’t remember this particular town, I do remember being very impressed by the beauty of the Pyrenees. Maybe the first seed of this particular adventure was planted all the way back then.

I buy an ice cream in the store and some supplies for lunch, and eat them in the shade behind the church. Tortillawraps with cream cheese, chorizo and bell pepper, tortillawraps with peanut butter and crushed almonds, and a huge, delicious peach for dessert. I also have a bag of vegetable crisps, a bar of chocolate, and some candied ginger I bought yesterday. The days of long food carries are over, I’ll pass a town at least every other day now. Yet I’m still carrying way too much food. I just don’t want to run out.

Where am I?

The descent to Beget, a small but very pretty town is mostly through dense forest. It’s hot, muggy, and there’s absolutely no breeze here. I take a quick dip in a shallow stream where the mud smells like eggs. I feel refreshed, but the smell isn’t necessarily an improvement.

Somewhat dodgy bridge over the funky smelling stream

It’s amazing how quickly the vegetation and scenery changes as I make my way to lower altitudes and closer to the sea. The limestone is back, and there are now patches of red, slippery clay. In Beget I’m met with almost subtropical scenery: there’s a huge banana tree next to the old bridge. It’s stunning, yet also a bit confusing. What happened to the pine trees? They were just there a moment ago? Where am I? Is this still the Pyrenees or are they definitely gone now?

Almost subtropical scenery in Beget

After Beget I keep walking for another 40 minutes or so until I cross the river, almost getting wet feet, and find a field just off the trail where I pitch my tent. There are a few buildings up ahead and I see a car parked, but the only access road is the one I just crossed, flooded by the river, so the chance of someone driving by at night is pretty slim.

I take another bath in the river -washing away the stink from the previous one- rinse out my shirt and bra, cook my dinner (couscous with raisins and almonds) and just after I’m done eating it starts raining so I retreat to my tent and drift off asleep…

Laundry drying on the tent

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