Saturday, 11 October 2008

Etang d'Artax

Despite being here for nearly 18 months now, we have still not explored into the hills that are up beyond Rabat-les-Trois Seigneurs which is up a small valley from Tarascon. Research suggested that the walk up to the Etang d'Artax would be a good outing so that is where we headed to today. The starting point at Gourbat was at around 900m altitude. As with most of the routes around here, the only way was up! It was a steady and sometimes steep climb, but much of it on good woodland paths - the colours were strikingAfter just under an hour and a half we reached the Etang d'Artax at 1695m - we had covered just under 5kms and climbed 790m of ascent.Time for a butty before heading up the steep path to just below Pla Madame and then on narrow sheep trods to Roc de Querquéou from where, behind us, we had Pic de Bassibié (a bigger circuit for another day)... and ahead a view to Cime d'Amont revealing spectacular autumn colours The steep descent down to the Col de Lastris was testing but was followed by a great run (downhill all the way) on forest tracks and good paths back to the car. En route, we stumbled upon this rather incongruous piece of machinery!Who knows what it must have been used for!

In just under 3 hrs, after 12kms and nearly 1000m of ascent, we were back at the car. The outing had tested the legs with the steep ascents and descents but it had been fantastic to explore another wild corner of the Ariège in great weather.

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