A very steep ascent (250m gained during the first kilometer), a small part on a faint track through a beech forest, then most of it off-track on the open, grassy S slopes of Mont Sijol (1790m). I did not have enough time to explore the whole ridge to the NW, where the upper installations of the small ski resort of Le Mourtis stand, so I decided to descend via a good track, which made for an easier descent, despite a few spots being slippery. I then made a short detour to bag the Pic de Plumières (1486m), which was easily reached from the Col d'Artigaux (1382m), where I was parked. A very special summit, as it stands in the forestry, close to the cliffs' edge, and has... a beechtree standing at the very top !!
This walk was actually the opportunity to try my brand new camera, and I made many stops to photograph the landscapes (hence the slow pace), under a cloudy weather which was covering the higher summits, allowing a few sunny spells to peer through from time to time. Just before reaching the top of Mont Sijol, I had the chance to spot two couples of common rock thrushes (Monticola saxatilis) -my first encounter with this species !!- and spent some 15/20 minutes watching and photographing them. Note that the last part of the road which leads up to the Col d'Artigaux and further to the Col d'Artigascou is in very poor condition and hardly passable with a normal car.