We climbed high through the Odessa canyon on the faja de pelay under a
hot dry Spanish sun, level with the tree line, towards Goriz. We
found chives to chew as our brains struggled to cope with the skewing
of scale and perspective in the canyon. We walked past the
overcrowded and dirty refuge and camped high on the windy plain above,
in a wild karst landscape littered with huge boulders where the
mountains curve like snakes and form vast ripples like the
fingerprints of giants. From there we walked through the Breche de
Roland at 2807ms in rain and heavy cloud through a rock salad
landscape of basalt, sandstone, limestone and granite, all bearing the
marks of their violent volcanic origins.
The following day we climbed back through the Breche to Tallion, the
punta negra, a brown and black edifice of scree, at 3144ms the highest
we have walked to, and where this picture was taken. The weather
continues to be very mixed.
Seeing the Spanish national park of Odessa one cannot help make
comparisons with those on the French side. Access is much easier with
bigger and more level paths, but the result is disconcertingly tidy,
an idea of nature rather than nature itself. The result is mediated,
sanitised. To add insult to injury people litter the landscape
without thought, stuffing gas food and other waste into holes in the
rock, even using the water sources as a toilet in some cases. The
'wild' has never been about removing people: the issue is not whether
we are there, but how we behave when we are.