Crunching snow and much laughter was heard as Mike led his group of twenty odd snow shoe walkers along the trail through the fir and silver birch trees. Tracks of hare crossed the path, the air was crisp and clean and a wintery sun sent soft shadows across the white landscape.
“Look! A woodpecker’s larder!” We all stared at a small hole in the trunk of a fir tree. “While the sap is rising they peck a hole and the resin trickles out. Irresistible to insects. The wily woodpecker watches as they liner up in his larder…”
Conversation dwindled as the path steepened. Through the trees, glistening icicles of frozen waterfalls caught the sunlight, beneath them lay a frozen lake ringed by snowy mountain peaks. “We’ll walk across it” said Mike. Our group was hesitant but the promise of coffee and mulled wine on the other side soon had us all striding through drifting snow on the deeply frozen surface.
“Four rivers are fed from this watershed” said Mike as we hugged our warming drinks. “That frozen trickle is the Têt, to that direction the Segre heads off to Barcelona, in the the Aude and beyond that mountain the Garonne strikes off for Toulouse…. The snow cannons on that Font Romeu ski slope are fed with water from Lake Bouillousses. French water. When it melts it runs into the Segre and off to Spain. Not very popular around here…”
Caffeine fuelled we set off again. The walking was easy, invigorating. Nevertheless we were all more than ready for a stout lunch at the CAF mountain refuge. (Club Alpin Français tel no….)
Tartiflette, lasagne, spare ribs and baked sweet potatoes were washed down with falgons ored wine. It was tempting to carouse the afternoon away and stay the night. Instead Mike and his team had us back snow-shoeing across the perfect powder snow. A clearing was declared the perfect spot for a human hare race. Many middle aged madmen hurled themselves across. Many tumbled and fell… Another lake was crossed. Its beauty even more breathtaking than the first.
As we drove home the mountains turned from deep pink to soft purple and the lights in the ski stations twinkled in the deepening dusk. All in all we had walked for a total of four and an half hours. The company had been good, the food delicious. It had been an exhilarating and rewarding day.
Mike Rhodes is a qualified International Mountain Leader/Accompagnateur en Montagne and is one of the most experienced leaders in France, having walked and climbed in the Alps & Pyrénées for over 40 years
Resident in Les Angles, Mike will give you a day to remember so don’t forget your cameras!
For safety reasons the group size is limited, so book your place early
Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org