Come, walk with me….

Shortly after moving to Andorra I learned theSticks  difference between a walk and a proper walk. 

A walk is something one does after lunch, enjoying the scenery.  On a proper walk lunch is at the summit with expansive views of the world.

A walk does not require sticks and special shoes; for a proper walk they're vital.

A walk is for conversation and musing; if you can talk on a proper walk…. well, it's not really a proper walk, then, is it?

Oh, there are always places where you can hold a conversation with the person in front or behind and, sometimes, one can even walk 2 abreast.  That should be the exception, not the rule.

On a walk, puppies and children are allowed.  On a proper walk they're left at home.

WalkNote that I didn't mention 'mature' people.  On the first walk I went on in Andorra one of the walkers was a sweet, little gray-haired lady with butterfly-rimmed glasses hanging around her neck on a long gold chain. She was dressed to the nines (except for the hiking boots – should've been a clue there). She was at least 35 years older than me.  I have been working out regularly for years.  I took one look at her and decided I may as well take a nap.

I was oh so wrong.  I watched her daintily pick her way over the boulders, hop from slippery rock to slippery rock across swift-flowing, icy mountain streams and then effortlessly pass me on the way to the summit.  She suggested that, what with the altitude and all, House_2 I should learn to pace myself.  I sat, corrected. 

When I reached the top she was sitting there having a beer – honest.  It had been in her backpack.

The photo (above) with the puppies and dogs is of a walk near our friend's house in Spain. 

The village is where he lives, the purple arrow pointing out his house.  (This was take on our proper walk.)

On the Sunday we were visiting we decided to go on a proper walk.  There was an old church, only used for weddings and saint's day celebrations about 2 hours away that would be an easy walk – since mon mari and I were so out of shape (we hadn't been on a proper walk in over a year). 

WalkpathThe puppies had to stay home but three humans and three big dogs set out around 11:00, sticks in hand, backpacks full of water and a bit of fruit.

Most of the paths we were following had been kept clear by the sheep and goats that graze in the mountains.  It wasn't an official walk so it was unmarked. We followed the animal trails most of the way.

For years I thought that yellow and red splotches on rocks was bad graffiti.  Now I know better.  They're marking walks. 

If you keep your eyes open you will see them all over Europe – circles, splotches, stripes, both vertical and horizontal, on rocks, trees, fences and buildings, in towns and cities, and out in the middle of nowhere – all marking walks.Properwalk

After about an hour we came to this part of the path.  This is what separates the walkers….

Mon mari and the little German bitch headed back to watch some golf on T.V.  Emma, the big white dog, was going to regret her decision not to join them.

I was amazed that there are actually places that a human can get to, over, across, on two legs that a dog can not negotiate on four.  This was one for Sedi.

The church we were walking to has been used for centuries.  ChurchpathThere is an annual procession up from a village, so, as we got closer, the path became  more evident.

Unfortunately the little church underwent a bad restoration  100 or so years ago and, I think, lost a lot of its character.  You can see the top of the unrestored 'priest's house' in the background.

Nice location though, sitting right on top of the hill.

Oh yeah, that's another thing: we don't go hiking in the mountains, we go walking in the hills.  As long as you don't have to use spikes and crampons it's a walk …. and if it doesn't involve rappelling, said walk is in the hills.  Please, remember that.Church

We got back to the village, a little after 3:00.  I thought I was going to have to carry Emma the last few kilometres, but she managed to find enough energy to pick a fight with one of the village dogs so I figured she'd survive.

We had some restorative wine, a bit of bread, locally made sausages, pate and cheese to keep us until dinner.

Wild boar stew with carrots, parsnips, celeriac and onions.  Our friend regularly picks up sugar, wine, butter, cheese and cigarettes when he's in Andorra for the villagers. Stew It's all much cheaper there.  In return they give him sausages and bits of whatever game they get.  While we were sitting on the terrace, enjoying the last of the wine, a neighbor came to the door, the rib cage of a deer slung carelessly over his shoulder.

mmmm – Barbecued Venison Ribs!  Maybe we'll get some on our next visit…

11 thoughts on “Come, walk with me….”

  1. My children are old enough to do a proper walk! We go proper walking in the summer holidays in the Alpes.

  2. I did a “proper” walk down Samaria Gorge in Crete last year – and it was fabulous. I did have the effect of making me realise how unhealthy I am though!

  3. We’ve done some proper walks in England, but rarely here at home. Wonder why we don’t make time and space to do that except when we’re traveling abroad?

  4. Katie,
    The best part of a proper walk for me would be the wine on the terrace, preferably with warm sunshine on the back of my neck.
    Mike

  5. Ulrike, we walked in the alps a few summers ago, too. Ir was beautiful but we had a hard time with the way the paths were marked…In other words we got lost!
    Scott, yeah, they can do that – especially the next day!
    Lydia, you gave the answer, it’s hard to make the time unless you treat it like a holiday – or, like in Andorra, commit to a group and a day.
    Mike, exactly!

  6. I love “proper” walks. We have a guide for hikes in our area, it’s a fun way to discover where we are living.
    Your story reminds me of a time when the aerobics class I was doing decided to go jogging in the woods one day. I figured no problem, these were all 60-70 year old ladies. Well, they left me in their dust trail!

  7. What gorgeous pictures! I was once on a long, steep hike at Yosemite National Park and saw an elderly lady with a huge walking stick. We all wondered how she would manage the steep grade and she wound up making it to the top ahead of all of us. 🙂

  8. I’m all for that restorative wine!
    We spent about 10 days in Zermat sometime ago. There were lots of trails all well marked with distance and times. Ha, ha the distance was ok but we never came close to finishing with in the posted time…double it and that was about what it took us!

  9. proper walks scare me. i fine with going there, but i’m always concerned with coming back. that just seems much too hard.

  10. Meredith, Sher, I was constantly being upstaged (at least in the early days) by people in their 70’s and 80’s. Gives one hope but, as they told me, you have to keep at it!
    Tanna, it’s about the journey – as long as you make it back in time for drinks before dinner….
    Gattina, yeah, that bit was hard. One dog couln’t make it, the other two leaped like goats..
    Anna, in Andorra I walked to the highest point – not bad, but I was terrified coming back down. I swore I would only do it again if a helicopter picked me up at the top!

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