Day 5. If I fall down a mountain, plant a tree on my grave. Prat d´Aguilo - Gosol.
Twelf people in a bunkbed and no heavy snorers among them. You could almost call it a miracle. At 7.13 the sun appears behind the mountains but before I catch it, the big mountain on the right already does. The meadow lights up, breakfast is served. I drink the worst coffee I had in years but it doesn't matter.
A bit of a climb today, we mistake a yellow cross (don't go here!) for a yellow line (go here) and end up having to do a risky climb to get back on the track. We keep an eye on each other and I shout to my neighbour: "If I fall down and die, plant one of the trees on my grave." He asks: "Do you want a text with it?" And I reply "No text, just a tree."
Of course none of us falls down. And it wasn't really that dangerous. But when I continue walking I can't help thinking I hope I haven't challenged faith. Or the gods. Even when I don't believe in them, they might believe in me. And it would make a great story if I would indeed fall down a mountain during the Grand Tour and the small tree I grew out of an acorn from the forest in the Netherlands where I grew up and have been carrying every day would end up feeding itself on my body and marking my last resting place.
The name of the mountain we climbed slipped my mind but it is part of the Cadi mountain range. From the top there is a beautiful walk all through the Pas dels Gosolans. It is de Route des Bonhommes, the Cathars moved through here centuries before we did. We pause at the Pedraforca, the double (forked) mountain but we see it from the wrong angle and even when we continue we never catch a glimpse of the front or the back and therefore in my mind it is still shaped like a big unsplit rock.
The flower the Dutch call monk's hood and is cultivated in gardens grows in the wild here, so far I've mainly seen it at higher levels. There are cows everywhere, lucky beasts compared to their brothers and sisters in big barns, confined to grazing in boring fields with barbed wire fences - if they are lucky.
Up and down, there is no other way. Going up to go down again. Even when you want to stay at the top. You can, as long as you want, but as some point you want to know what lies ahead.
The refugi where we slept asked for staying in its amazing surroundings. Paradise I called it yesterday, but I wondered what the proprietor thought about it. Living at the top must be lonely and boring at times. There is a price to pay always, nothing is perfect but if you want (and of course there is some luck involved there as well) you can get quite close.
Now and then I stick my hand in my left pocket to feel the stone that is hidden there. It is good to carry a token that keeps you safe and sound, a memory of where you came from and will possibly return. A friend gave me this stone she found, it is shaped like a heart. She jokingly said: "You will carry my stone heart!" and I do, every day again. A small stone heart that reminds me of her big and warm heart. Even on days when I walk alone, it is never just me. People walk with me in my mind. And in my heart.
It is a beautiful walk through the valley. After the first hard climb it is easy wandering now. Hours flow by, the feet just keep moving. At some point the Pedraforca finally shows its double nature. Some more hills, some more up an down. Some narrow paths along ravines where I think about Picasso walking here to reach the same village I am aiming for, accompanied by mules carrying his supplies and his lover and muse, Fernande. She almost fell down when the mule slipped, maybe even here.
Just before I catch the first glimps of Gosol, I find an old completely dried flower arrangement hanging from a tree. The kind people put on graves. At the foot of the tree there are some branches that look like they might have formed a cross. What happened here? I will probably never know.
Our home for tonight is a former mill. We eat salad and sausages and potatoes and there is wine. We shower and walk again. To the village to watch a movie. L´homme perdu. About a man who tries to live in the world on his own terms. Who lives in a shelter in the woods, kills a wild pig, baths in streams, steals food from peoples´garden and tools from their sheds. Who builds his own house in the forest until he is discovered and runs - no, rides away, on a bike he stole as well - to move into an abandoned house. He is as lonely as we all are but he decides to live in his loneliness. To let go, to be lost. He is a happy man.