A career in the corporate world for years can be offset against our physical body — with less and less physical activities. I easily fall out of shape.
To physically measure myself once in a while, I go look for a good hike. I had hiked a few times before, but never hardcore… So who's up for snow hiking in the mighty peaks of the Pyrenees?
Situated on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, I joined a group of hikers to scale the summit of Tossa d’Alp at an elevation of 2,535 meters (8,316 feet) above sea level. It’s said to be one of the highest mountain routes in Spain.
On a scale of 5, the hike is set to 3 as the level of difficulty. But with a hike duration of 6 hours, I was skeptical. Pere, our local mountain guide, made it sure we're properly geared up. Take it from the locals, there is no such thing as cold weather, just bad clothing. Snow boots and poles and a good pair of polarized sunglasses — a must.
Our starting point is at the high mountain pass called Coll de Pal at an altitude of 2,070 meters (6,791 feet) above sea level. The trail goes across the snow mountain until La Tossa d’Alp. That’s a distance of approximately 9 kilometers!
It’s quite intense. During the first few hours, I was already breathing so heavily (uphill, mind you). And the terrain, it feels like I’m hiking with a difficulty level of 5 or even more. The trail is pretty steep. Heavy snow and slopes steep enough for small avalanches. I was so close to giving up. But, I guess the first few hours of physical conditioning paid off in spades. I got stronger.
At the summit, we reached the mountain retreat called Refugi Niu d'Àliga at about 2,537 meters high. It is considered to be the highest mountain shelter in the Pyrenees. And the view — it’s breathtaking. The incredible scenery along this hike was worth every step. Feeling on top of the world... literally!
After a relaxing siesta at the mountain shelter, we continued the route back with an unprecedented view of the valley of Cerdanya, Ripollès and Berguedà.
Hiking down the slope is much easier! I remember sitting on my butt and scooting forward like a kid going down a slide on the playground. It was fun.