During the first hiking days in the Pyrenees I literally wore all the clothes I took from Germany using the onion look - due to unexpected cold “late-autumn” conditions in the middle of August!
The following days the weather changed a lot and I finally discover the astonishing beauty of the mountain ranges that appear as the clouds disappear. All the animals which were hiding from snow, rain and wind show up and during the hike to the mountain lakes we can watch marmots, vultures and all kind of “wild” farm animals like herds of horses, donkeys and sheep protected by beautiful white “Patou”- mountain shepherd dogs and a herd of cows led by the biggest bull I have ever seen in my life. The impressive the bull was, the gentle he was.
The first fully sunny hike in the Pyrenees I will remember as a day of superlatives:
Reaching the first lake of that long way up, we find piles of palmate newts which I’ve never seen before and of huge tadpoles being even thicker than your thumb! We even see some salamander larvae with their vulnerable gills. The lake water is really clear and has a wonderful turquoise color. The nature experience is touching and after having seen all this beauty, I start to ask myself if we would find some indication for pollution and amphibian disease up here, too.
“All big life comes from the very small life”, I remember. Being understood as extreme habitats, I get more and more curious about the microbial life the lakes would support, as microbes constitute a basic source of nutrition for the other organisms - ranging from zooplankton to tadpoles. I wonder if the amphibian diseases investigated in the P³ project will somehow be connected to the structure of the microbiome?
Filled with endorphins and a lot of thoughts we do not feel our legs and knees but they will call attention soon. After a little rest we keep on moving.