Snow covered mountains and a Spanish desert all in the same week…The Pyrenees and Navarra

Time flies when you’re having fun

We’ve all heard this saying, and we’ve all said it. The concept of time is a strange thing, sometimes we feel like it’s caught us and is pulling us faster and faster through life, and sometimes we feel like it couldn’t be going more slowly if it tried. The reality is that time doesn’t change but it’s our actions which make us feel that it does.

Why is it that the weekends always go so quickly and Monday mornings always go so slowly?

Why is it that when we know that we have a deadline way into the future we feel like we have forever and then it creeps up on us?

Time is a funny thing, and something that I feel has been escaping me recently. I’m not some big shot in the city working all the hours under the sun, I’m a Erasmus student, the type of student with the worst collective reputation, but the one that has the most fun, and that everyone who’s been lucky enough to call themselves a Erasmus student never wants to go back to being just a student. We have plenty of time, we just don’t always utilise it in the best way.

Having just had some time off for Semana Santa here in Spain, I was able to fully appreciate the free time that I had without uni classes getting in the way of life. With the travel bug inside me getting worse I knew that a trip was needed and oh what a trip it was!

It’s been a very long time since I put on a pair of walking boots, and even longer since I walked up in the mountains. This trip was very exciting for me for many reasons, but needless to say I was happy to be leaving the city for the mountains, the Pyrenees and Navarra to be more specific, and to be exploring.

Mountain number one was Arlas at 2044m, (6706 feet)

Arlas 2044m

Taking that first step off of the road and into the snow my foot shot down and I was knee deep in untouched snow. Never had I seen so much snow in my life. The climb up was slow but stunning, it took a lot of effort but was so worth it for the views. With the sun beating down and the air crisp it was the perfect start to the first full day of the trip. The climb was going amazingly until I reached a point, a point where ice became a problem. With no crampons and no walking poles ice stopped play as my feet just kept sliding down the mountain and taking me with it.

Annoyed at not making it to the top, I felt defeated but then I turned around and had the view all over the Pyrenees, a view so spectacular and so stunning that it no longer felt that important to make it all the way, next time I’ll do it though I thought to myself.

Pyrenees

Arlas may have defeated me this time, but I’ll be back to the Pyrenees in the summer and I’ll be conquering your taller brother’s and sister’s, don’t you forget it!

After the day in the mountains the prospect of the weather changing brought about the conversation that went a little like this…

“The weather’s going to be pretty bad from tomorrow, how do you feel about going south a little to the desert?”

“Desert?”

“Yes, desert, let’s go!”

So that’s the summary of how the trip changed from snow, to this…

Bardenas Reales

Bardenas Reales was destination number two. It was a dramatic change from the mountains of the Pyrenees and another sight that I’d never seen in my life. The rock formations were incredible as was the whole trip, driving through this felt like I was in America, not in Navarra.

The trip continued and was full of amazing new experiences, with the final day upon us we were granted with good enough weather to tackle another final mountain, this one nowhere near as high but still beautiful.

SAM_2389 SAM_2396

At 1352 m (4435 ft) Itzaga is a popular hike for mountaineers in Navarra on a bright Sunday morning. With a covering of snow on the top it gave more beautiful views and in the far distance the Pyrenees. Down in the valleys you could see the small towns and villages and the feeling that I was on top of the world came rushing back to me, just like when I was little and went into the mountains with my family, or at least what felt like mountains to me. The walk up wasn’t all that difficult apart from the last part up to the summit. The track winds upwards through the woods which had a dusting of snow and then comes out to the small San Miguel church and the view of the top. Walking up leads through a lot of changes in the scenery but all with the sounds of the tweeting birds and the snow sliding off the branches of the trees, it was a beautiful morning and there is no other way that I would have wanted to finish the holidays from university.

Coming back to Bilbao, I was truly exhausted, but high in spirits from a trip which took me higher than I’d ever been before, showed me views of snow covered mountains and rocks in the desert. It truly was a trip that I’ll never forget, it was my first trip into the mountains for far too long.

Getting back to nature was what I needed after adjusting to city life, and this trip was the perfect way to spend the holidays exploring and climbing, the perfect way to enjoy the holidays away from the hustle and bustle of the city and all with the perfect company.

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