We went high into the Pyrénées, searching for la transhumance but got sidetracked at Col de Port. Although it was the 31st May and a heatwave in our valley, we criss-crossed patches of snow, the sun unable to properly warm the air and the moist ground soaking our shoes. We sat and ate hummus and walnut bread, mâche, sweet cherry tomatoes and rooibos tea, watching the mists rolling across the peaks and the huge birds – are they black kites? Buzzards? Eagles? Any twitchers out there who can tell me? They catch the thermals, winding higher and higher and you follow them upwards till your head is at right-angles to your spine. Then they hover and suddenly drop like stones, rising labouriously with empty claws.
We didn’t come back down but went up higher on narrow vertiginous track, past waterfalls, stone shepherd huts and through forests with ears a-popping right into the mists until they completely engulfed us. At this altitude there is an orientation table showing the Pyrénées stretched out before us for 180° and as far south as Spain. But we can see nothing, barely even our own outstretched hands. Yet knowing for certain it’s all there out in front of you like ghost-mountains makes you want to roar with joy into the infinite whiteness.