|She hiked "the wrong way" — and that made all the difference.|
Music to her ears
After 4 days in crowded Barcelona over the May Day holiday, I was ready to escape to the mountains. Sitting in the front seat next to Adrien, the guide/driver of this mini-van excursion to the Pyrenees, I quickly learned he too enjoyed climbing and hiking. He laid out a plan for the day, telling us that once we reached the mountains we would have three hours to explore on our own. I envisioned hiking a trail up to a fabulous vista where I could get a panoramic view of the Pyrenees, perhaps even to the border of France.
We boarded the cog train at Queralbs and made the 20-minute journey to the ski resort at Nuria. Already starving, I ate my picnic lunch on the way, saving just a few strawberries for the summit treat. Stepping off the train, I could see that a dry winter had left only the highest peaks snow-capped. I was gazing up at a hiker's paradise! Then Adrien turned to me and said, "I think the best trail here is hiking down the gorge we just came up on the train." I couldn't believe it! Hiking down is hard on the knees, and what about those vistas waiting in the other direction? But I had heard enough of his outdoor adventure tales on the drive up to trust him. So dejectedly, I started walking down.
After just 800 meters on the trail, I heard music. Pipe music. Galician pipes. I hurried onward and there, standing by the trail, were two pipers. I know this music and can play a few Galician tunes on my fiddle. I rushed up and asked "Music si us plau?" They pumped air into the bellows and broke into two tunes in harmony. What were Xan and Sebastian, two Galician pipers, doing in the Pyrenees in Catalan? Maybe to convince me that walking downhill on a sunny day can indeed be as fine, or finer, than reaching the peak. And those strawberries? They were just as refreshing eaten at the end of the hike, down in the valley.
— Nadine in Chehalis, WA
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