Weekend in the Pyrenees

Las Chicas headed north to Ribes de Freser in the Pyrenees via the convenient commuter train.  First stop, dump bags at hotel, next stop–wait in line for Cremallera tickets–the “rack train” or narrow gauge train to Vall de Nuria.  An hour up a very steep rail brought us to a beautiful valley surrounded by high peaks. Nuria–now a hotel, modest ski area, and go cart/zip line park–began when a hermit who cooked for shepherds, an image of the Blessed Virgin, and later a pilgrim in search of same. The image is sacred and has been dated to the Romanesque period–12th or 13th century. A small stone chapel overlooks the man-made lake and it’s rental rowboats.

There are no roads to Nuria, only rail or hiking trail. Ribes is about 1000 meters in elevation, Vall de Nuria is 2000. Some people hike from here over the border to France. Las Chicas stayed true to Spain during their brief visit to this valley.

Time for lunch with a picnic by the lake:

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Autumn is here with beautiful colors:

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But summer is not over and we see this wild azalea blooming on our hike that takes us above the tree line.

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Lisa and Mary begin the hike above the ski tow line run (orange poles)–we are so happy to be walking on the earth, in the mountains!

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Another view of peaks:

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Mary takes a break on a hilltop meadow, the trail continues to the gap in the distance.

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Lisa checks out the edge of the meadow with helpful cairn in foreground.

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Las Chicas discovered a spring coming from the side of the hill and rested by a stream before braving the train line for the return train to Ribes.  Tough to leave such a beautiful place with its big sky, peaceful streams and soaring peaks.

On the return trip on the Cremallera, Mary goes Helen-style and takes photos out the window of a waterfall and mountain scenery:

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The next day, under cloudy but happy skies, Las Chicas went for a walk in the hills and forests and fields near Ribes. First a walk on a wide dirt road with views of the town:

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We discovered several “starter homes” (aka stone houses with no roofs or floors) that could be featured on House Hunters International:

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Las Chicas also consumed possibly last blackberries of the season from a trailside bush:

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Back in Ribes, we explored the the Castell de San Pere–St. Peter’s Castle. Romanesque and under renovation. Climbing up to the tower, posing for photos. On the way down, the castell cat didn’t pose, but Mary took her picture anyway.

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The Catalan flag flew from a high cliff above the town, with a cross on top of the cliff.

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Las Chicas accidentally explored the back yard terrace gardens of Ribes en route to another Romanesque Elegsia de Santa Maria (not pictured) and the Capella de Sant Cristofer–Chapel of St. Christopher.

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Las Chicas will return to Ribes and Nuria someday to explore many more trails of the beautiful Pyrenees!

© 2013 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.

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