Out of time: Ossau Valley in July

Since I am in the process of sorting my photos from my different hiking trips this summer, it is time for the photos of my time in the Ossau valley (Pyrénées mountains) to find their way here.

In my previous post, I mentioned Auvergne’s mountains and how they lacked the height of the Alps and Pyrénées. It’s true. To a certain measure, Auvergne’s mountains feel friendly, beautiful and inviting. I’ve always thought the Pyrénées, on the other hand, are menacing and awe-inspiring. That doesn’t make them less beautiful.

Hiking around the Pic d’Ossau and the smaller peaks that surround it, for a seaside girl like me, is like being in an alien land. It’s also a trip back in time, away from civilization, where people still think mules are a practical way to bring supplies to the mountain refuges.

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As this man told us, it’s less expensive than the helicopter ride.

While hiking in the valley, you are constantly reminded that you are only tolerated by the shepherd dogs as a guest. They will guide you to the hiking paths if you get too far away from it… and too close to the sheep they watch over! Be sure not to stop too long near them.

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This little guy wasn’t too friendly at first. He only relaxed when we got back on the trail we had briefly lost, leading us around his herd.

Once you get high enough, there are no longer any sheep or cows, only the silence of the mountains and the occasional cries of the jackdaws. Pack ropes, just in case – even in July, the névés (accumulated patches of snow that can last through the summer and sometimes feed glaciers) are large and slippery.

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