Pala Alta from the Virgin of Montalegre
This is a circular route through the Sierra de Mont-roig. We start the route in the hermitage of Montalegre. To get to this point, we will have made a forest track of practically 6 kilometers from the road that leaves Vilanova de Sal.
We started walking along a path heading east (we found a signpost to go to Pala Alta and that warns us of the precipices that there are during the journey.
The path begins by planning and enters a typically Mediterranean stretch of forest, dominated by holm oak and various types of shrubs. The trail is evident the entire way and there is no loss.
Higher up, we find a deviation to the right indicated with a landmark. This path allows us to climb a small rock with views and, at the same time, it could be used to go straight down a canal. We follow the path and the successive milestones that lead us to the foot of a rock that we can easily climb. Once at the top, we will see some of the cliffs of the Sierra de Mont-roig, (if the winter fog allows us).
We undo the path to the fork and continue uphill in a gentle ascent to another hill in the sierra. We descend a few meters and face a more important ascent to the culminating peak of the mountain, the Pala Alta, which is crowned by a geodesic vertex and a forest guardhouse.
We will see that the road travels more in the interior of the ridge but that it is also possible to climb closer to the cliff since the terrain is quite open. From the top, we can see the entire sea of inland fog, as well as the mountains of the Pre-coastal Range and Montserrat (if the day is clear). On the other side, Montsec and some emblematic peaks of the Pyrenees, such as Monte Perdido.
We continue along the crest of the mountain range and now we have to lose a few meters and then face another small hill that we will surround on its northern slope. If we want to get to the top, we can momentarily deviate from the path to reach them.
Once we have passed this other hill, we face the strongest downhill section of the route. The path goes down hard to go find the neck of Puerta. The section is stony but accessible.
Once we have lost height, we arrive near the neck of Porta, where we arrive at the forest track. We will follow it to the right, heading west, to turn towards the hermitage of Montalegre. The track gliding and gently descending under the cliff that we just made up. Thus we have a double vision of the mountain.
One section further down, the track reaches the crossroads with the track that goes up to the Montalegre hermitage. We continue to the right, up, and in fact we could follow this track all the time until we reach the sanctuary. However, shortly after we see a path to the right that climbs determined. We decided to follow him.
It is surely a well-trodden path especially for climbers who want to reach the foot of the track. The path is somewhat less beaten but the milestones indicate perfectly where it has to go. Several lunch boxes and sections with stone are created without difficulty. Milestones will help us to envision the path where it is less well trodden.
Finally, already in the upper part, we ignore some forks that go up the canals and we follow the path that now turns and heads west. Shortly after we will see the hermitage just above us. Now we will only have to finish doing this uphill section. Altogether, this shortcut is pretty straight forward.
Image and text authorship: Sergi Boixader