Pic de Bugarach, Pech de Bugarach or Puèg de Bugarag in Occitan i.e Bugarag Height Bugarach Mountain lies in the Corbières, Aude Region of South West France in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
I first climbed it in 2005 by what is described as the ‘easy’ route meandering up through dense Box woods; you arrive at the foot of the cliffs, fortress like protecting the summit. After a short scramble you come across a high meadow awash with wildflowers and the alternatives folks sitting singing chanting or excited by the experience. Before, a further short walk takes you to the rather dull summit with great views towards Peche Canigou to the South The Plateau de Sault to the South West the Aude Valley to the West and North to the city of Carcassonne and beyond to the Black Mountains.
There are many myths and legends about the mountain as the largest peak in the region it was a special place for the persecuted Cathars before the 13th century; from the summit they could see into the heart of their region right up to the Ariege and the High Pyrennes.
It is alleged that Jules Verne used it as inspiration for the book Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Later Steven Spielberg is alleged to have been inspired by it for his film Close Encounters.
In more recent times in December 2012 you may go there to be saved from destruction as it is claimed that Spacemen will either emerge from the depths or land on the mountain and remove people before the end of the planet.
What I do know and is factual is that there are a great many caves under the mountain. The description as an ‘upside down’ mountain is surprisingly accurate as the rocks near the summit are older than those lower down; this is due, as I understand it to movement of plates pushing up old rock from deep down whilst the younger rock is peeled away and left at the base.
This year I climbed route difficile or the difficult ramble on the other side of the mountain. A steady, fairly steep climb through grassy meadows; brings you again to the rock face. At first it appears quite daunting, splashes of yellow paint mark the way eventually coming to a ‘window’ in the rock and a scree like accent to the top.
It is in part the rock wall which has lead to the magical quality, people have seen amazing shapes and forms in including huge Buddhas , Hares and other creature, with large Griffin Vultures flying overhead it is easy to see just how people can be sucked into the alternative theory.
Finally and from my own perspective in May and June the mountain offers a wonderful display of flowers including many rare orchids.
If we survive the 21st of December 2012 I would recommend a visit and if you need to marvel, be amazed and get blown away do so by the flora that in habits this great mountain from its top to the bottom