Hiking Through Montfalcó
This story is not about a destination; it is about a journey. It begins with a passenger bus climbing its way through the Spanish Pyrenees Mountains. Paved roads quickly changed into winding dirt paths. My eyes stayed fixated on the few inches of dusty earth that separated the bus tires from the cliff’s edge. It was to my relief when we finally disembarked at a small gravel parking lot at the base of La Ruta de las Pasarelas de Montfalcó.
Montfalcó is home to the four kilometer trek that never follows, but always cuts into the mountain’s curves and many faces. The scenic trail begins in the province of Aragon and ends in Cataluña. This unique hike is famous for not only its magnificent view points but also for its extreme stairs. Wooden steps grip to the cliff’s 90 degree face. The path ascends in a zigzagging pattern, connecting explorers to the top of the canyon from its base. I was in almost disbelief when I saw the stairs we were about to climb. I took my first step, cringing at the creaking coming from the wooden planks as other hikers trusted their weight on the steps high above my head. Curiosity lead my eyes to glance downward through spaces between each board. My imagination took over and filled my mind with the unwelcome outcome that would befall a miss-footing.
Once we reached the top, we got our first glance at the full and bold beauty of the canyon lake below. The water glistened with a deep, aquatic blue. The colour contrasted against the dull, rocky mountains. It was unlike any other view I had ever seen. We rested for a moment and indulged in every wisp of wind that would bring us the flavours and smells of fresh mountain air.
Later, we descended through a rocky path and crossed an extension bridge over the lake, entering the province of Cataluña. Along the rest of the trail, we noticed many missions, some deserted, some still in use, all dating hundreds of years old. The sun that had accompanied us in Aragon soon shifted into a most chilling and penetrating rain. Thunder could be heard on the horizon as we hurried to our meeting point. From there we drove along more switch back mountain roads until we reached el Puente de Montañana.
Blue skies welcomed us to the medieval village of the province of Huesca. The village of just 102 inhabitants sat comfortably nestled on a small mound protected by the proud Pyrenees peaks. We wandered the beaten stone streets to the highest point where we were met by the Roman Gothic church of Santa Maria; Montañana’s most cherished gem. We paid our respects then roamed the ruin walls and homes of the 1000 year old village. We admired the plateaus of farmland and strategically placed castle towers on the hills in the distance. The mountain village that was once a city and home to many now rested calmly in the hills. The history however, is alive and vibrantly showing itself through every ruin.
We returned to our city later that afternoon feeling totally exhausted, but also accomplished. That day we discovered that exploring outside of your comfort zone and roaming unknown paths is what creates an incredible journey. Our destination was never the peak of the mountain. Our destination was found in the sensation of exploration. I truly believe that travel is never about reaching a point on a map. It is about reaching a new perspective. I wouldn’t recommend a visit to Montfalcó to anyone with a fear of heights. However, if you’re a willing traveller seeking new perspectives, a journey through Montfalcó should definitely be on your bucket list!