Cagire is one of the most recognisable mountains in the Pyrenees range. Its humped-back ridge is clearly visible from our house, and although we’ve walked around and beside it we’ve never tried the ascent.
Our neighbour Pierre is a dedicated runner who considers a day to be wasted if he hasn’t managed to spring lightly up the sheer side of a mountain. Back in the spring he competed in the French equivalent of the Three Peaks Challenge, and one of the objectives was Cagire. Last week we decided to tackle it too, although at a slightly more civilised pace. With lunch.
From Juzet d’Isaut, the town at the foot of the mountain, a rough unmade road winds for a further two miles up towards the summit. Well, no point in peaking too early, so we drove up towards the upper car park. The drive was tortuous as we could only make about 8km an hour, but it was worth it to emerge into the forest clearing and the start of the stunning views.
The parking area has good facilities including picnic tables and clear signposts for the various walks.
The above signs are found on mountain walks all over the Pyrenees. Roughly translated, it means “Hello. I’m a Pyrenean Mountain dog known as a ’Patou’. I’m here to watch over the security of the flocks. My role is to keep any strangers away from the beasts that I protect. Thank you for keeping your own dog at your side.”
In all our wanderings over the mountains, we’ve never actually seen one of these dogs, possibly because we’re not there much in the summer when the flocks are out to grass.
From the car park, a well-defined but steep rocky path leads up to a little mountain refuge, where benighted travellers can find shelter in poor weather.
As we ascended, the red clay path became more slippery and difficult but finally culminated in a grassy slope marked with a stone cairn marking the altitude of 1912 metres.
The descent was at first harder than the ascent due to the slippery path, but once we got back into the forest the tracks turned to shale and grass which gave a firmer foothold. The whole walk took about four and a half hours. Next time we’d plan another descent by walking over the ridge towards La Mortis, and making our way round the shoulder of the mountain back to the car park.