I left Carcassonne in high spirits and good weather after two full rest days and was immediately dampened by the Alaric hills. I was on the GR 36 goes straight through Carcassonne, leaves it via a military training area and then climbs up the rocky and steep Alaric hills on bone wrecking trails. I hadn't expected such difficult terrain because these hills had looked quite innocent on the map. I hadn't made it as far as expected and as it was difficult to find a decent campsite in all those rocks I was relieved to come to a trail crossing on a flat and grassy shoulder. I was tempted to camp in the open but in the last minute opted for a hidden spot in the trees off a side trail.
When I was about to go to sleep around 9 pm I suddenly heard voices. I was surprised but expected hunters. Soon there were more and more voices - all male - and unfortunately the group seemed to gather at the trail crossing next to my stealth campsite. I became more and more nervous as I could not find any logical explanation why a group of at least 10 men would gather on a rocky plateau in the pitch dark night. Torches were flashed but so far I had not been detected. I hardly dared to breathe when I realised in great horror that the men started down the side trail where my campsite was. I lay only 5 metres off trail! But it was pitch dark and the men were obviously concentrating on the difficult trail - and swearing wildly in French. For me it felt like they were walking right through my tent....but after 10 minutes they were all gone without having detected me. When I started to relax it finally dawned on me what all this had probably been about: There were a lot of military installations in the area like the training field I had passed earlier today and the men had probably been soldiers on a night exploration march...
Several days later I had a different hunting experience. It was close to midnight when I woke up to dogs barking in the distance. I had not heard then earlier and wondered what had roused them. The barking would not stop and even seemed to come closer. I was still wondering what all this was about when I suddenly heard am animal crushing through the trees - probably a wild pig. Unfortunately I seemed to come straight towards my tent and in slight prefix I started clapping in order to warn it. Seconds later it had passed but by now it had dawned on me that the barking had come from hunting dogs. And for sure - a minute later I heard a pack of dogs coming through the trees - again straight towards my tent. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. It was scary as the dogs seemed to come straight at me and in the morning I found that even a tent stake had come out probably from one of the dogs tripping over the guy line. But they left me alone and were soon gone - and I felt pity for the poor wild pig. Still I don't understand why the dogs were out at midnight as I had thought that it was too dark for shooting.
|A Kathar castle|
|Reservoir of Vinca|