It had been a trip full of firsts after we successfully conquered the skies in our tandem parachute jump and traversed the rocks of Sant Feliu de Guíxols using a Via Ferrata. And with climbing, kayaking and mountain biking also in the bag, it was one of the most active excursions we’ve had in a long time. Quite different from lounging on a beach in the Maldives, that’s for sure – and we weren’t done yet!
Joined once again by our good friend, fellow blogger and travel companion Lydia, our sights were set on our first snowshoeing adventure, up into the mountains of the Pyrenees. We were on our way to a place called Vall de Núria (Valley of Núria), accessible only by railway and footpath and a site of historical religious significance and pilgrimage. Once again, we set out early from our base in Girona to enjoy the day.
Into the Mountains
We boarded the train to our destination which winds its way up into the Pyrenees, a forty-minute journey through gorgeous scenery. From the comfort of our seats, we took in the alpine landscape unfolding before us outside the train windows. Craggy mountains dotted with coniferous forests and scree-covered slopes bathed in bright sunlight from a brilliant blue sky.
As we rattled along the tracks, we would occasionally pass rushing waterfalls and white-water rivers, heartily fed by the winter’s melting snow – something incredible to see.
It was a train ride that we’d have happily doubled in length, but before we knew it we were stepping onto the platform of the Vall de Núria station. We should really take this opportunity to mention that we were accompanied by Damià, our guide for the day, and he took us to his office nearby for a boosting breakfast. Snowshoeing is an energy-sapping activity, so we loaded up on ham and cheese baguettes, fruit and plenty of water. We’re were going to need it!
Getting the Gear On
Shortly after our morning feed, Damià provided us with our equipment for the day. Snowshoes and walking poles, sunscreen (vital when you’re exposed at high altitudes) and sunglasses. Well, for me anyway, because I’d forgotten my own pair!
Eye protection is also very important as the sun can be blinding off the white snow – a perfect reflector that can damage your eyes and REALLY ruin your day. It was great they had spares for forgetful types like me!
Shedding the Layers
It was interesting to note that once we’d put on all our warm clothing, including hats and scarves, it wasn’t long before we’d taken them off again. Believing it to still be chilly in the mountains, we’d come prepared, but the combination of bright, warm sunlight and the exertion that snowshoeing demands, soon had us sweating buckets and down to lighter layers. Cez was even in his T-shirt at one point! We really didn’t need half the stuff we brought with us!
Breath-taking in Many Ways
The scenery was once again beautiful to behold as we huffed and puffed our way into the mountains, making it literally and figuratively breath-taking. The weather was perfect and it was amazing to be out in such uplifting surroundings, although it certainly was a challenge learning how to snowshoe. It was a blessing that we stopped at regular intervals to snap some pics and fill our lungs with the thinning air.
It’s Snow Joke!
It turns out that snowshoeing is a lot more challenging than it looks. It’s not the common misconception that it’s a pair of tennis racquets strapped to your feet; as there’s a technique you need to master in order to make decent progress and not run out of steam. I struggled to keep my balance, moving slowly and tediously with all the grace of a drunken elephant. The view was really nice though!
Cez faired little better (although considerably better than me) while Lydia once again took it all in her stride. Along the way, we chatted with Damià and enjoyed the landscape while trying our very hardest not to fall over. This endeavour yielded mixed results.
A Valiant Effort
Well, we gave it a shot and while the company and knowledge of Damià was charming, snowshoeing is not something we’d be in a rush to do again.
We’d heartily recommend for anyone to try it as it’s an interesting experience, but I think it would be more suitable for those who can really nail the walking technique and maintain their balance. It’s a fantastic work out though, and you’re going to have buns of steel if you do this regularly!
Snowshoeing in the Pyrenees was a fun day out, but there was nothing left in the tank at the end and we’re definitely going to sleep tonight! We bid our farewells to Damià and returned via train for our last night in Spain, tired but happy.
Our Costa Brava adventure is drawing to a close and home is calling. At least for a little while anyway!
Have you ever tried snowshoeing? Let us know if you found it as challenging as we did!