Three cars, eleven people, twenty-two boots. We’re now a bit of a parade as we stopped to buy supplies at the supermarket for a picnic lunch on today’s walk to the waterfalls in the Balcon de Pinettes. The Spanish approach to trail food involves a lot of cured meat and fresh bread and an unusual approach to tomatos that I’ll return to in a moment.
The Balcon de Pinettes is at the end of a long gorge. France is over the top of the mountains so I guess it’s French water we were seeing drawing white lines down the side of the cliffs.
So we set off with eleven people to walk up to the cascades. It took us 15 minutes to cover the first 200m as we juggled kids. As planed, Jennifer and Jean peeled off as we got off the flat and retreated to the nearby Parador hotel terrace for coffee and reading. 9 of us continued on up the hill beside a set of waterfalls. The path was steep and the younger kids were finding steps at their hip-height a trial, but we all soldiered on an the cascades were lovely.
We finally emerged onto a path that was blessedly flat and followed that for a while until we had lunch. Fresh bread with tomato and jamon, lots of jamon went down a treat. So the local approach to tomato is to chop one in half and then smear the contents onto the bread, discarding the skin – seems a bit strange but it’s an effective way of having a tomato without washing it. Or it’s just a bit strange.
The two younger kids were now exhausted so they and a parent headed on back to the Parador. And so we were down to 6 of us heading up and up through a forest until we surmounted the tree-line and were going through fields of bracken in the sunlight.
Eventually we reached the base of the falls where those thin lines became cascading columns of water. For and Australian it’s hard to get your head around the idea of so much water in the midst of a record-breaking hot Summer.
The trip back down the mountain featured increasingly tired kids – they did well, but they were fading fast.
All up it was 8km with almost 500m elevation. Not a huge walk by our current standards but with the added element of juggling kids (which I must say is more entertaining when they are not your kids) it turned into quite an undertaking. So by the time we all re-grouped on the terrace of the Parador a cold beer was well-deserved.