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27th November

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Edited by Cathy Winsor, Monday, 28 Nov 2011, 18:14

Today was forecast to be sunny all day in the mountains, so we set off at the crack of dawn, in thick mist. As we neared the mountains we left the mist behind us and ahead there were snow covered peaks and the bluest of skies. We stopped off in Luchon, such an elegant town with a good bakery where we bought bread and pastries for our picnic. In the town there are always people wandering around on crutches or propelling wheelchairs, people come to take the waters in the huge thermal spa complex. There are many beautiful ornate villas with slate roofs, but at this time of year they are mostly empty, it’s a quiet time between the summer season and the ski season when the hotels and apartments fill with tourists. The plan was to climb Pic Cecire (2400m), and take in another loop on the way, but Pic Cecire was quite enough, even though it was not much ascent as the car park was at the Super Bagnere ski station. Above 2100m the snow was so thick, the path was obliterated, I don’t enjoy walking across steep slopes covered in snow, especially when the slope just plummets into the distance. I am constantly reminded that wearing crampons makes it impossible to slide down, but I just kept my eyes firmly on the footsteps ahead. It was a relief to get to the summit. We found a flat rock above the snow big enough to sit and have our picnic, with wonderful views in all directions. I had hoped there would be an easier way down, but the alternative route looked even scarier so we came back the same way.  There were only two other people up there, in the summer it is so popular, but the snow must have kept walkers away. As we came down the mountain we stopped to chat to a chap dressed in motley layers and wild unkempt grey hair and beard, He pointed out his home to us, a barn down in the valley, no electricity, his water supply from a stream which must be just above freezing. I think he was a bit lonely.

Blanquette must have been in the mist all day.  I lit a fire as soon as we came in, with six noisy cats trying to trip me up, asking to be fed. Now everyone has had supper and the cats from the first litter are finally making peace with the new kittens, they are curled up together in a heap on a sofa.

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