Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pic Bugarach

A circular walk to Pic Bugarach starting and finishing in the village and passing the Cascade de Mathieux and La Fenêtre. 

You start on a section of Sentier Cathare/Cathar Way – a 250 km/ mile footpath which winds its way between Port-la-Nouvelle on the Mediterranean Coast and Foix, between a large number of villages and chateaux with strong links to the Cathars. After 2.5km/ 1.5miles from the village, the path passes above the Cascade des Mathieux. The waterfall cannot been seen from the path so look out for the small sign on your left.  A real hidden treasure.

As the path gets steeper, the trees thin and it becomes necessary to use your hands to scramble up the limestone. La fenêtre/ window is a natural opening in the limestone rock which the path passes behind. After more scrambling, the summit comes into view . 

Summit View From Pic Bugarach
Very windy on the summit as is often the case here. My binoculars help identify the large bird of prey as a vulture. There is a 360° panorama. Not a particularly clear day so the views not as spectacular as they can be.

To the north is the Montagne d'Alaric (30°). To the east two cathar castles – Peyrepertuse (88°) and Quéribus (98°) and the sea 60km away. To the south are the Pyrenees closest to the sea with the unmistakable outline of Pic Canigou (170°). To the west more of the Pyrenees with the Pic St Barthelemy (266°) and closer the hill top village of Rennes-le-Château (306°).

While on the summit I thought about  how  according to some, the end of the Mayan calendar on 21st December 2011 means the end of the world! Except that is for those who are in the vicinity of Bugarach village which will escape the apocolypse apparently. As well as the end of the world, much has been written linking Pic Bugarach to hidden treasure, unidentified flying objects and strange lights etc. It is even said that it inspired Steven Spielberg and his film 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' although the actual peak in the film is based almost certainly on the Devils Tower in Wyoming.

I found an esoteric geometric pattern carved into the summit rock and later found an identical pattern carved into a large rock close to the descent path.

Esoteric Geometric Pattern Carved Into The Summit Rock
The descent path from the summit soon enters a shady forest of box. Box wood is a hard wood and so heavy it will sink in water ! Lower down beech appear as well offering welcome shade.

'Rams Head'/Beech Roots

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