Just past the ski area parking lot above Salardu to Alos de Isil
We have been told that the only animal we need to fear is a sheep dog. At 4am I awoke to growling and barking. It was close. It went on for over 2 hours. I was really frightened at first and was afraid to move. Finally Jim started talking and said let’s get going. The dog kept barking. Once we took our tents down and packed them up the dog, which was only 10 feet away, wagged his tail and walked away. I guess he just didn’t like squatters on his property.
Today was gorgeous. Really clear skies which made for amazing views of layers of mountains. And my legs felt good. I think they are still feeling the benefit of 2 days off and lots of good eating. And then there were the rocks. Lots of rocks.
Wired told me the climb up Tuc de Marimanya was a bitch. She had rain and fog. We had perfect weather. She was right about the top part. It was really steep and really hard and really rocky. I can’t imagine doing it in rain.
The ridge walk ended at Col d’Airoto. Then we went down and across the biggest rock jumble I have ever tried to walk across. It was awful. My feet hurt just thinking about it.
Our last pass was Col de Clot de Moreno .
Then we had a 1200 meter descent which started off as one of the easier descents. It ended in confusion and really screwy. Wired had tried to explain to me what the end of the descent was like because it was confusing to her also. But that didnt help us. Oh well we finally got to the tiny village of Alos de Isil. I had been dreaming of a shower all day. Especially after it heated up. We found the Refugi d’Alos and rang the door bell. No one was home. I phoned the number that was on the door. The lady gave us the code to get in. Score! It’s awesome. Very new and very clean. 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and a room with 20 beds… all for just the 2 of us. €20 each. I really didn’t want to walk anymore and I got my shower.
I’m sure that walk was tough enough in the dry! Shower, yeah!
Maybe the dog just hates tents, not people?
I think you are right.
The dogs are called patoux. They are fearsome, but they will not hurt or attack, they only defend their sheep. Easy for me to say, I agree 🙂
I remember that talos.. and I had trouble getting to Alos too, I could see it for hours but it never seemed to get any closer!
The refuge is a nice one, I think it has supplies for sale?
When I called the lady about the refuge the first thing she said was that there was no food. Maybe because she wasn’t there. We had food so it was ok.
In case you encounter another French sheep dog. Would have been good info in your guide book.
Le Patou (Great Pyrenees)
During your walks in the mountains, you are likely to encounter large white dogs of impressive bulk. Often called “pastous” or “patous”, they mix with the flock of sheep and assure its protection.
This breed, called le Montagne des Pyrénées in French and Great Pyrenees in English, is considered a part of the mountain patrimony. Used in France until the end of the 19th century, it has gradually disappeared from these mountains as the large predators — bears, wolves and lynx — have become rare. The natural return of wolves in the Mercantour and the reintroduction of bears in the central Pyrenees have stimulated a renewal of interest in this type of guard dog.
The term “pastou” (pronounced patou) is derived from the word “pastre”, meaning shepherd in old French and designates a shepherd’s dog as it was understood in times past. Unlike a herd dog, the role of the guard dog is not to drive the sheep but rather to protect them from wild animals or feral dogs. Usually walking at the head of the flock, the patou inspects the terrain before the arrival of the sheep, then establishes a zone of protection around the flock that allows him to anticipate the approach of any intruder.
The sheep are his family
patou troupeauBorn in the sheepfold, the dog is brought into contact with the sheep very early. At two months he is separated from his mother and siblings to sleep, eat and live with the sheep he will be guarding. His thick white coat and floppy ears allow him to blend in with his charges and in time he is totally accepted by them. During his first two years of life the shepherd is careful not to stroke or caress him or in any way treat him as a pet in order that he bond as closely as possible with the sheep.
Great Pyrenees are not attack dogs but protect by dissuasion. Their presence and large size alone discourages predators. The first reaction of the guard dog is to bark, to warn the stranger of his presence and alert the shepherd and the flock. At the same time, he places himself between the sheep and the intruder(s).
If the intruder ignores his warning or if the predator is agressive, the dog may then make physical contact.
If you meet a patou…
A good guard dog, watching over his flock, alerts the shepherd to any intrusion into the perimeter around the sheep. Such a large dog barking and charging down the slope at you can be quite intimidating. Remember:
-don’t throw anything at him
-don’t threaten him with your walking stick
The dog will take this as an agression. Stop or continue to make your way around the flock. The dog will sniff at you, recognise a human, and then sometimes accompany you for a short way to be sure of your intentions before turning back to his family of sheep
Thanks for the research. I had heard a little of that. Hard to remember when you hear that growling and barking.
Definitely my toughest day. You two rocked it! Glad you figured out the refuge part.