I published my magical photo of the evening sun on Pyrennean snow yesterday - thanks for your comments! I was so happy that it captured what we'd really experienced. As promised, here's the story of our day out:
The weather at home was horrid on Sunday morning. Unforecasted snow had fallen over night, and was still landing on about 20cm of flooding and slush when we left our poor hens (well-provided-for)at 8am...
We followed snow ploughs around the pérepherique
of Toulouse - over the last few years the local authorities have had to take on a few snow ploughs, as every winter has had one or more snowy days recently, which is quite a new departure.
Once we'd headed south off the payage
, the weather actually improved, and we drove over clear roads and through green fields for a while before reaching the turning to the Plateau de Beille
, an area which specialises in the more unusual snow sports - cross country skiing, snow shoe walks and even husky sledging! The snow chains went on and we followed a slow trail of cars, vans and buses up to the station
We hired snow shoes and set off up a track which promised a pleasant short walk before lunch. See the frozen Spanish Moss on the tree?
We'd never used snow shoes before, and both Son 1 and I, who aren't skiers, really took to this more gentle sport. It's hard going uphill in the high altitude, but well worth it. Ben really enjoyed the experience too, but unfortunately Son 2 was feeling ill and decided to spend the afternoon in the car, well wrapped-up with his book and his DS game... the only low point of the day, but he stayed snug and warm. We cooked lunch on the camping stove in the car park - sausages and baked beans ('La classe!'
as someone commented, admiringly) and then set off without Son 2 to do a longer walk.
Under the trees it was quite shady, and we followed the distinctive shapes of snow shoe tracks past a small igloo and up out onto a higher shoulder of the plateau.
Son 1, staples in his knee, tires quite fast despite his impressive level of fitness:
Oh, but we had fun!
The sun was already quite low in the sky as Son 1 and I entered into negotiations with Ben - explore much further (the Dad Option), take a long route that swept us back to the car (the Mum Option) and go straight back (the Teenager's Choice). My suggestion, as a compromise, was quite easy to achieve!
This was when we saw the sun breaking through the clouds, giving us the view I shared with you yesterday.
We followed the orange trail tags down through a forest, which was clearly from a fairy tale or childrens' story - but which one? I asked Son 1 if he thought we were more likely to find a lamp post or meet a wolf, and he suggested that a wolf weeing on a lamp post seemed reasonably likely...
We got back to Son 2 a little after the station
had officially closed - we were actually met by staff on skidoos who wanted to get us back into the fold before they closed down! We headed back on down the road in the gathering dark, passing the 1606m hut on our way back down. It was a beautiful and very happy day.