The tiny one-car train we took from Carcassonne to Quillan
View from our hotel room in Quillan
Main street Quillan
Snails for dinner!
Above Ginoles, about an hour into our hike
The mountains were covered in mist.
It was early and very quiet.
Water treatment for Ginoles
What a view! Or...what a fog!
Walking into Nebias, about three hours in
Are we at Nebias yet?
As we passed through Nebias, the downpour began.
Allen said, “I don't think my shoes can get any wetter.” And then we looked up to this.
Clearly our ponchos were pretty worthless.
We saw a huge worm. That's Allen's foot for scale.
A typical look for me on the trail
We're wet, but happy!
Along the river in Puivert
The city hall in Puivert
Finding a little shelter in Puivert
The main place in Puivert with the church and mairie
A detail on a ruin
Close up on a ruin of a building
This was only the beginning.
Between Puivert and Espezel
Moss and vines between Puivert and Espezel
Allen in his poncho
Sticks and stones may...show the trail. Thanks!
Finally on the Plateau de Sault, near Espezel, the cows flocked to us.
Excusez-moi, mesdames...which way to Espezel?
We woke up in Espezel (May 28) to this!
We were so happy to have had a private room after 12 hours of walking the day before.
We headed across the Plateau de Sault, starting off with an hour of flat walking.
Looking back at the Plateau de Sault, as the sky clouded over
Espezel is to the right below
Back in the mountains
Finally on the Plateau de Languerail, we met up with a flock of sheep.
And the sheep ran from us.
This giant black goat (?) emerged from the bushes and started following us closely.
We didn't want to rile up the beast.
With the help of the shepherd dog (patou), the sheep fled around us and in front of us.
Now much higher than the Plateau de Sault
Next we passed some horses and their foals, still on the Plateau de Languerail.
Then we had a new follower.
The horse wanted my cashews, but Allen got nervous when he head-butted me.
I obliged with a few cashews.
Our final herd on the Plateau de Languerail was the cows and their calves.
“Is that Montsegur?”
“That's where we're going tomorrow...”
The road ahead on Plateau de Languerail
The book said, “Take the trail all the way to the left, which is the steepest.” Yay.
As we walked uphill, we went into the clouds.
Looking back over the Plateau de Languerail
The fog was thick around us, but in our immediate area, it seemed so clear.
Trees in the fog
Looking out over the abyss
A glimpse of the Gorges de la Frau through the fog
The walls of the Gorges de la Frau are barely visible.
Note the trail marker (“balisage”) on the right tree
Aha! We see the Gorges de la Frau through the shifting fog.
The sign says, “Gorges de la Frau, View of Montsegur.” Where, exactly?
As we descended towards Comus, more became visible.
Montaillou was visible, a few kilometers from Comus. The village is in the center, and up to the right is the ruined castle.
The village of Montaillou held practicing Cathars until the early 14th century.
The common room in the gite d'etape in Comus
The hallway of the gite d'etape in Comus
Our little “bedroom”
Gite d'etape in Comus - the front says “Ecole Communale” as it's a converted schoolhouse
Another front view of the gite d'etape in Comus
We liked this old van. People in the mountain had some interesting old vehicles.
Here's a close-up of the van. We're on our way out of Comus now (on Thursday, May 29).
Descending through the Gorges de la Frau
It was cool and shady in the canyon.
Wow! The scale was impressive.
Unfortunately these pictures really don't do it justice.
Gorges de la Frau
What goes down...
Looking up from the Gorges de la Frau
The path from Comus goes down and down, and then it goes straight up to Montsegur.
A little stream trickled along beside us the whole way.
Blue skies above the Gorges de la Frau
We passed a little hamlet, with this cart on the second level of a barn.
And then we reached this lovely wooded path, but we knew it would get steeper soon.
We forced our way uphill in the mud. (This picture is looking down at the path we just hiked.)
Allen scraping mud from his shoes
The mud was making our shoes really heavy.
And then Allen realized I was taking pictures.
I look like I've been hiking for several days.
And the path gets steeper, up and up and up
Of course we couldn't be doing it in the other direction - we could have just slid down the hill in the mud!
Hardcore hikers don't mind a little “hill!”
Balisage along the trail
Someone had carved 2008 in this stump.
Hallelujah, the path evens out!
This roof tile points the way to Montsegur!
The pog of Montsegur, as we get much closer!
A close-up of the Chateau de Montsegur from far off
It looks so close now!
On the outskirts of the village of Montsegur
Gite d'etape in Montsegur
Looking down on the village of Montsegur, as we ascend to the castle
On the path up to the castle
We came across that open patch today, through the gorges on the right, and even the Plateau de Languerail is visible in the far left.
Again, a view of our path from the last two days
Closer-up view of the part we crossed earlier that day, with the Plateau de Languerail in the upper left
Village of Montsegur from above
But we still hadn't made it to the castle - the path was straight up!
Chateau de Montsegur
Stairs on the wall of Montsegur
View from Montsegur
Lavalanet, seen from Montsegur
Window in the Donjon of Montsegur
Donjon of Montsegur
There's no way to enter the donjon from within the castle of Montsegur
Allen on top of the world
At 1200 m above sea level, Montsegur commands the countryside.
Looking out from Montsegur
Continuing the view around Montsegur
And so on...
Flowers in the rocks
Looking out from where we came from
The only thing higher than Montsegur is the Plateau de Languerail.
Along the back side of Montsegur
A wider view of the interiour of the castle of Montsegur
Up the stairway
Stairway at Montsegur
Rock wall at Montsegur
Looking away from the donjon from inside Montsegur
It wasn't a very big castle, but Allen does look small here.
Imagining what it was like to be a Cathar
I don't think I'll climb those stairs.
One more interior view of Montsegur
Looking back out of Montsegur
Wait, we have to climb back down this?
Towards the village
Memorial to the 200+ Cathars who chose to be burned at the stake rather than convert
Welcome to Montsegur! (I love the use of the roofing tiles too.)
Looking up at Montsegur on Friday morning
Glad we don't have to climb that again!
A last glance at the village
“The view” would be of Montsegur all day.
Pog of Montsegur
We found a friend! He tried to follow us.
He'd already followed us for 45 minutes. We wanted him to go home. But he got under the fence.
Then we had to get through the barrier of cows. Please, stand right on the trail.
We got off the trail for this persuasive lady.
Then it turned out that we'd been going the wrong way, and we had to re-navigate the cows and climb 45 minutes back up to Montsegur. Oops.
Oh look what it is!
Finally on the right path and putting some distance between us and Montsegur
A final glance, or so we thought
We walked along another stream
Old cafe sign in Montferrier
Mailbox in Montferrier
Above Montferrier, we looked back and saw...Montsegur! It looks so far away!
Once again, there was mud on the trail.
But the views were beautiful.
Okay, we seriously didn't walk from there today, did we? (Isn't that unbelievable??)
Too much fun with balisage
I'm telling you, Montsegur looks more than a day's march away.
Approaching Roquefixade, but sadly the weather turns and we're not able to go up to the castle because of pouring rain. (Luckily we got into the gite before it started.)
The gite d'etape of the town of Roquefixade, with the castle above. This is where we stayed last time, but I was surprised that my reservations were actually at a gite outside of the village.
Leaving Roquefixade on the last morning of our hike: Saturday, May 31
The whole valley was covered with wisps of clouds.
All traces of the rain were gone - except mud of course!
Every morning on the trail seemed to promise a beautiful, clear day.
Our gite is the white building there.
Coming up to Leychert, we see that even people in tiny mountain villages have Mini Coopers (upper right).
About an hour and a half outside Foix
“Show me the way to go home...”
We're going to miss the mountains.
First views of Foix. “An interstate! Civilization!” we cried.
I spent the whole walk hiking up my pants like this.
I was trying to avoid the mud. (Ha.)
Finally at the bottom of the steep descent into Foix
We had a few hours to go see the castle of Foix.
Crossing the river into the town of Foix
Church face in Foix
Road up to the castle in Foix (castle to our backs here)
Sadly, when we got to the castle, it was closed from noon until 2, and our train was at 3.
Back past the church
Cross on the church in Foix
Another glance at the castle
Our hike through the mountains is over. We're so tired, we can't open our eyes.