LOOKING BACK……….Circuit de Sauto….. in search of the secret Spa of the Pyrenees Catalan
Everything is unpredictable in the Pyrenees Mountains but a forecast of 90k/hour gusts of wind after four days of warm weather caused Ian Pendry and I several problems when choosing a venue for our next snowshoe trek. The pretty village of Sauto overlooks the Tet valley and because it faces south we rarely have the opportunity to organize a walk on its slopes but the recent heavy snow falls meant that, at last we could explore this area and search for its secret spa!
Parking in Sauto is difficult so 8 hardy trekkers met in the Heritage site of Mont Louis and travelled in Ian’s mini-bus the 5 mins to Sauto.
Ian’s wife Angela is in the final stages of training for her International Mountain Leaders award so we rope her in to sorting out and fitting snowshoes to our clients shoes and boots, an essential skill that is more difficult that you could imagine due to the varied nature of footwear that people arrive with.
To access the snowy slopes we walk through the rustic streets which are still snow covered until we reach the upper village limits where snowshoes are fitted.
Today we have four people who are snowshoe virgins so our path starts to climb the slope in easy zig zags until after 40 mins we reach a copse of trees and a little shelter from the wind. Now, Ian and I are quite institutionalised so we have to stop at 11.00am for coffee and a biscuit as well as being a good excuse for a rest and a chat. Another 30 mins brings us to a col and great viewpoint overlooking the Tet valley and Canigou, time for more photos.
Traversing east across the hillside, the views of Cambre d’Ase, Roc del Bloc and the col de Mitja are superb and we were managing to keep out of the worst of the wind. Being high above the valley we could see clearly Prats Balaguer and the thermal spa of St Thomas le Bain, a superb spot to relax after a days trekking.
Lunch was taken in a copse of trees after Ian had dug a great seat from a snow drift. My preparation of 1.5L of soup seemed to go down really well.
A key piece of navigation after lunch led us to the little know spa de Sauto which was enjoyed by Yann, Ian and myself. It was just a shame that it was currently filled with snow.
Deteriorating weather coming from the west with strong winds and snow persuaded us that a slightly early retreat to a café in Mont Louis may be the best option.
Despite the inclement weather a great day was had by everyone and we seemed to have not put off the first time snow shoers.
We look forward to seeing them again on one of our future winter adventures
Our next walk is on Sunday 5th Feb and there is still time to join us especially if you do not like the ski slopes in the February holidays.
We look forward to sharing our passion for the mountains.