Walking the other side from Collata Chistau down to Viados was an odd experience. It was raining to begin with, then it lessened but remained overcast, which meant I couldn’t take photographs. My mood changes accordingly. When I reached the valley floor I was warm again and removed my Goretex jacket and trousers. It was six years since I’d been there and as part of a long trek you don’t usually remember small details. As I descended the rocky track I remembered where I’d enjoyed lunch of bread and cheese. I noticed the track I’d taken where I had to retrace my steps before I became lost. The path climbed a little and I saw the tree where I’d paused for a rest and to zip off my lower trousers. I stopped again to enjoy the moment repeated across the years thousands of miles from home. I felt the old tree with my hands and zipped off my trousers. Hello again old friend.

I was lonely as I remembered all this, yearning for the previous exploration when I was happy on a sunny day. I remembered where the forest stops and the boggy grassland begins. I knew what to expect, and the eventual GR11 sign was familiar. I remembered crossing a wooden bridge and the people who were resting there. I remembered the track leading through a wooded area where the road continues differently, wondering if I should take it when navigating a forest is difficult. There is no sign. On this occasion I knew it was a short cut and went that way again. Out the other side, and the same incline filled me with despair towards the end of a tiring day, when it is not especially steep. Six years ago this was not a memorable part of my HRP trek. It was not memorable again, but poignant, collected into myself, wary for my safety, reaching out for meaning. I doubt if I’ll ever read Proust. His books are too long, but they intrigue me.


Pyrenees Photography Book: Collata Chistau (2)

Saturday December 28, 2013