Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Barefoot to the Souiran Pass

What an amazing day, well amazing half day really. One of those days when the Gods or whatever decide that it’s your turn and just pile it on. A day to buy a scratch card.Now it’s autumn of course there’s no rush to get up to go hiking as it’s pitch black till late so this morning I woke naturally, no alarm, had a leisurely breakfast watching a black squirrel stealing our walnuts from the trees in front of the house and as the car is at the mechanics set off on my little old scooter up for an easy hike. Skipping directly to the return for a moment, though I’m sad that the dog can’t come I’m really happy to go walking by scooter partly because of the icy-thighed exhilaration  of  a freezing ride up to my usual parking spot, which is I must say a magnificent parking spot in its own right, partly because of the descent, over half an hour of 50kph freewheel but mostly because you can go from peace and tranquillity of our house (kids are at grandma’s) through the early morning bustle of the village waking up and up into perfect peace and solitude and quiet  in less than 2,000 seconds and the same in reverse coming down which if possible is even more of a marked contrast after five hours of not seeing anyone. Amazing. The  enjoyment I get at living in this place is never ending. And today the air was so warm that, though of course I shouldn’t even have thought of it, me being a responsible citizen etc., I removed my helmet too just once again to get that  feeling of the wind in your hair that we all once enjoyed before the nanny state stuck its bloody oar in. Anyway today I thought I‘d do the Mount Servin-Souiran Pass-Crevlira Sheiling route anti clockwise (what a daredevil I am) as  where I had originally intended to go got snowed on yesterday. It is one of my favourite walks and the nearest.  I was really happy to discover that despite the frost and three or four millimeter thick ice on the spring basins barefooting was still possible. Up until now I’ve really only barefooted in high mountain environments but this circular walk  has a mixture of everything except trees. I’ve probably said this before somewhere but splashing through icy water in your bare feet and feeling it warm is perhaps the oddest sensation I’ve had this year. It’s very true that the main thing preventing people going barefoot is their heads and sometimes the fates step in help you make the right decision. Just after Crevlira I stopped to take off my jacket  and looking at the terrain ahead to put my shoes back on for a while. Pulling my jacket over my head I took a step backward and put my foot in a fantastically malodorous and squidgy boar wallow.  Anyone who is familiar with board wallows will certainly agree that it has to be the stinkiest most unpleasant thing outside of industrial chemistry. It really is foul. The next water was quite a way on so not wishing to contaminate the insides of my shoes with boar pee and mud (or worse) I carried on in my birthday shoes up what seemed like the start of a tricky section of the path which was just lose stone and sheep droppings. I’m really glad I didn’t put the shoes on. I thought I’d be finding the usual sharp stones embedded in the 5 cm layer of sheep shit and thistles everywhere else but as it turns out it was amazingly comfy. In fact the whole trip, start to finish was a sensation explosion for the feet and not an ouch moment at all. The four hour circular walk starts off along a perfectly level dirt road which is a great foot warmer in itself. By the time you start climbing your feet at supple and that acute sensitivity you have just after your shoes come off has gone. Just before the boar wallow I came across a little adder. Only about 5 inches long it pottered off in no hurry, sluggish with the cold and like the adder my camera was a little too sluggish so only got a photo of it’s tail. The wonderful thing about this walk is that the route up is shorter than the route back. The outwards bound path is more of less straight but the return path follows the ridge line which is crooked. There were boar diggings everywhere. Quite unnerving as you pass through the rhododendron thickets expecting any moment an explosion of evil pig gristle in your direction.. On the top of the hill overlooking the pass I was for the second time this year engulfed in a fluttering mass of birds, mistle thrushes I think but they moved so fast it was difficult to tell. Then looking above them an eagle was overhead maybe explaining the thrush rush. In close succession a buzzard appeared low over head, two white saddled falcons battled it out mid air and a handful of the ubiquitous ravens ducking and diving did what I keep telling everyone they do but which they refuse to do in front of witnesses which is fly upside down. Peace to airbourne chaos to peace again in two minutes. So taking that as an indication to stop I did so. I’m all for heavy hiking, and destination walking etc. but sometimes (usually) ambling is much much better. So I just sat on the top of one of the outcrops and listened to Vinyl café on the MP3 listening to Dave and Morley  get to grips with Arthur the dog and gazing over the mountains chomping on hot sausage and bread sticks washed down with a thermos full of scalding tea. As it turned out I could have left the hot tea in favour of water as the temperature from freezing was soon 33°C in the sun.But despite the relaxing walk I was back home by quarter to two leaving enough time to get on with some work and light the furnace in readiness for the evening autumnal temperature drop

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