Wednesday, 6 May 2015

4 May 2015 – Col de Rates

Summer has arrived since last week, and the temperatures are in the high 20s, and even into the 30s over the weekend.   So there were no sign of jackets or jumpers this week.   Lovely to have Sue back, after a short holiday in UK.
We were quite excited to be doing this walk once more.   It’s been more than two years since we last tackled it.  Not because it’s too difficult, but because the track has been blocked at the top of the Baranco Negro.   The owner of the restored finca has blocked the path with a thick hedge.  However Pat has been told about a detour around the finca.
We started the walk from Jalon, going uphill through the Stations of the Cross, and following the path we discovered with the U3A.   A little longer than just walking up the road from Jalon, but much more attractive.  And very pleasant on such a warm sunny day with the sun shining through the trees.
There were also the usual long views over the Jalon valley towards Parcent.   I was not aware how cloudy it was until I downloaded these photos.  I remember the first part of the walk as being hot and sunny.
The path was, mostly, pretty good.   Normally we walk it in the opposite direction with the U3A, and we found it more difficult this way.   Tracks that had been easy to climb up were more difficult to climb down.

The detour joined the track up the Col de Rates and the real climb began.   The first part was not too bad, though we were glad of a banana stop before we tackled the rougher and steeper path up the Baranco Negro.

The climb is steep and the patch not too good, but worse of all was the heat.   Not sure exactly what the temperature was, but it felt like 30 plus.   We had to make regular water stops and to slow the pace considerably.  
The detour proved to be steeper and longer than expected.    We skirted not only the finca, but our lovely hidden valley as well.   The extra climb proved too much for many of us, and a shaded tree proved a welcome spot for lunch.   Not as good as our usual picnic spot, but we all needed a rest and we were already well past our usual lunch time due to the extension at the start.

At least we could view our hidden valley as we ate our picnic and recovered from the climb.   It was all level or downhill from here on, and we soon recovered from the effects of the heat and the climb.

The section between lunch and the Col de Rates is an easy walk, but even this was difficult on such a hot day.   After a very mild winter and spring we were all taken by surprise at how quickly the temperatures rose, and how difficult a popular walk had become in such conditions.
It was with a sense of relief that we finally reached the restaurant, all aware that it was downhill from now on.  

Because we walked from Jalon, rather than Parcent, we would be going back on a different path than our usual one.   This path had been very badly damaged in the storms some years ago, and this had prompted us to walk from Parcent in the first place.   However we were relieved to find that the path was much better than we remembered it to be.   Not sure whether it has been filled in, or whether the sides had just broken away.   But the descent was completely trouble free.   The walk took six and a half hours, and would have been longer had the path been as eroded as we remembered it to be.

Monday 11 May 2015
Next week will be Granadella.   Meet at the Hipicia at 10am.   If the weather is similar to this week the proposed swim in the sea will be very welcome.  So bring your swim suits.

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