Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday 22nd LÉspolla to Llançà 20 kms

It is nice weather and we walk through pleasant rolling countryside. There are only 2 climbs today, not too hard. The area we are walking through was up until recently mainly planted in vineyards and olive plantations with grazing sheep. Today the economy of Spain has changed and the wine industry of old is in crisis as the consumption in Spain has plummeted and no one wants to work as a shepherd any more (though the price of olive oil remains high), as a result most of the plantations of grapes and olives, and all of the grazed land, has been taken over by wilding pines and undergrowth, and the terraced lands built up over generations is slowly eroding. The big danger which constantly threatens is that of fires. Before, with the farmed land being cared for, fires weren´t the problem they are today with dry undergrowth and drying leaves, pine cones etc.

Today we reach the Mediterranean sea though it isnt our last day. Tomorrow is our last day.

We will have to climb up from sea level to St. Pere de Rodas and then down to sea level again to El Port de la Selva, and then across the length of Cap de Creus to the lighthouse at the end. 22kms in total and, as usual with the GR11, none of it easy going.

Unfortunately my cellphone has chosen today to die which means that I wont be able to upload any photos or in fact report our finish when it happens as even though I am now updating the blog from a cybercafe in Llançà, I wont be able to do that at Cap de Creus so it will have to be assumed that as at 6 or 7 pm tomorrow we will have completed the job of walking the GR11.

42 walking days out of a total of 53 days, 900 kilometres (more or less - 12 kilometres more for Chris Bennett because he walked back to get his mattress), 38,000 metres of climb, 38,000 metres of fall, sunshine, snow, rain, freezing cold, adventure, being lost, eating great food, meeting good people, sore feet, extra muscles, lost weight (and put it back on again) broken and lost equipment overcome with kiwi knowhow. All in all an amazing time.

To quote the words of New Zealand´s most respected citizen, Sir Edmund Hillary, "We knocked the bastard off!".

Apart from the people I have already thanked on the blog, I need to thank lots of people here because without help from others we would not have been able to complete this.

I would like to thank the following people:

Montse Baste and Joan Cararach for generously housing Chris´s Bennett and Jackson,

Maria Dolors Masana i Carles Nadal per els missatges de animo,

Ken Martin for sending weather reports and encouragement, and for helping with the Boston business in my absence,

Thanks to the entire Boston crew for keeping the business going, I really appreciate it.

I would also like to thank Hayley for letting CB do this thing so soon after Eve´s arrival,

And also Anna for letting me do the same.

Thanks to my sister Vicki for taking care of Emma and sending messages of support

My brother Tim for setting up this blog, and all of the people who sent in their comments to the blog.

CB says hi to his Mum and loves her very much, and thanks to Hayley´s family for their support and good wishes during the trip, and a big hello to his bro Andrew and wife Keri and their kids, Campbell Jack, Cait, and Zach.

Chris Jackson says hi to his family and all the folks in the Valley.

I personally would also like to thank my two companions on this trip without whom I wouldn´t have been able to complete it, thanks guys!

Sunday 21st La Jonquera to L'Espolla 21 kms

I had always thought that La Jonquera was horrible when I sped past on the motorway en route to France. Turns out there is another Jonquera; the original town and the hills behind it near the border that make for a really good walk. The weather helped, sunshine. We had a 4 km climb which lifted us 600km. Nice views over to Le Perthus and Ceret, also Catalan villages but on the french side of the border. On the way up we passed the 13th century church of Santa Llùcia. As we approached the top we were hit by the Tramuntana, the cold wind from the high Pyrenees. I dig out my snow jacket from the bottom of the pack. Despite the sun the wind was icy. We get to the top of the first climb of the day and are given a fantastic view of the plain of Empordà and the Bay of Roses. We work our way around the high hills to Requesens and stop for a coffee and a view of the 10th century castle. We have a long way to go yet today. Its a good day for views, both where we are going and where have been. Tonight we stay at a 13th century mini castle in L'Espolla. It has been in the possesion of the current owners family since the 16th century. I guess the mortgage is all paid off by now. We have a great dinner in the local community centre while there is an oldies dance going on with live music and Formula One racing on the TV. We drink the local wine and enjoy the ambience. We have only 2 days more of this walk and while the body is screaming out for a break, the mind has already entered into celebration mode. Tomorrow we walk to Llança, and on Tuesday we climb to St. Pere de Rodas then on to Cap de Creus via Port de la Selva.