Where eagles dare…

Our night and morning in Castejon de Sos revolved around getting my bike running again. Thanks to the Pyrenean fixer, we were ready to go by 11am – a very late start for a 60km day taking us over 2000 meters, but at least I’d be able to stop at the other end.

As we set off the cloud was still hanging in the valleys – not only beautiful but a welcome respite from slogging up mountains in unrelenting sun, resting at every bit of shade we can find.

We found snow at around 1850m and only needed to hike for a few stretches over 1950m. Easy.

Once we had passed the high point of the day (2024m) it was all downhill. Firstly a 900m drop through the snow covered forest on fast switchback fire roads (happy to have a full set of brakes now!), then a very long steady descent through the stunning ‘ Paso la Inslusa’ gorge – not quite freewheeling all the way, but very pleasant gravity-assisted pedaling.

The gorge twisted for miles following the river below that had clearly been carrying meltwater recently – uprooted trees still clinging to life and all manner of other debris lined the wide dry pebble banks.

We passed through tunnel after tunnel, lights on but essentially riding blind feeling for pot holes.

As we exited one of these tunnels we came to a bridge over the torrent.  The bridge was lined with a small convulsion of bird watchers, scopes (and a couple of £4k L lenses) all pointing up to the high cliff on the far side.

At least a dozen Golden Eagles soared back and forth from the cliff, landing at their nests, swooping about and generally putting on a breathtaking show.
My 14-42mm micro 4/3 pancake lens isn’t up to much for this kind of thing, but I’m not carrying the weight of a big lens for such infrequent events, so it’ll have to do.

I wish I’d thought to take a shot of the convulsion – far more within the capabilities of my lens.

We watched for 20 minutes or so, said ‘wow’ a lot and eventually set off down the road towards Escolona, winding downhill with big grins on our faces.

We stopped only once to pick up an eagle feather lying by the side of the road – the perfect lightweight souvenir – over a foot long with a quill about 10mm diameter, these guys are big!

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