Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Bad weather. One of the most boring days of the trip. It rained on and off and was quite cold. We were up close to the solid layer of cloud so had no views. It was, as always, an uphill climb to a high pass, Paso de los Caballos 2326 mtrs. Basically we are moving through the Pyrenees using the ancient pathways used by the local peoples for thousands of years before the advent of the car. This involves moving from one mountain valley to the next, climbing to the head of each valley and then over the ridge between the mountains and down into the next valley. Up until very recently these valleys were very isolated with each valley speaking their own dialect of whatever the regional language was. Still today some of the older folk speak the original dialects but they are fast disappearing. We notice that as we move from valley to valley even the types of trees and other flora change. Earlier in the walk we were surrounded by green pastures and forests of beech and oak. Now the ground has become drier and stony with black pines and other conifers. We have moved into the mediterranean zone. Back to the walk, the excitement for the day was, as we stopped for lunch, after climbing 1200 mtrs over 10 kms, CB realised he had left behind his mattress in the bed and breakfast place we had stayed last night, an expensive and vital piece of equipment that would be very difficult to replace. We had another 10 kms to go to finish the day and there would be no easy way out from there. He decided to hide his pack, head back down the 1200mtrs, get his mattress, and return to the top, collect his pack and finish the days stage to the refuge. Apart from the physical effort, the problem was daylight hours. CJ and I arrived at the refuge to find it was full. We would have to camp and it was raining. Plus we had to wait at the refuge for CB. By 7pm I decided to leave my pack and head back to find Chris before it got dark. I bought a can of beer from the refuge to give him when i found him and was just about to go when he showed up. Smiles all around. And as 3 people didnt show up at the refuge, we got bunks for the night.
After yesterdays effort we were looking for an easier day, but every day on the GR11 is a hard day. We had blue skies and set out late at 9am. Up the road to the Parador we turned right into the woods and straight into a stiff climb. 1000 mtrs up over 8 kms. On the way up we cleared the tree line and had fantastic views of Monte Perdido and Añisclo, the vertical face we had climbed down yesterday. As we got near the top we saw a "Quebrantahuesos" (Bonecrusher) eagle gliding overhead. There are only 40 pairs of these left. The afternoon was spent following a long forestry road down to the village of Parzan. A couple of beers and then a 3 km walk down the highway to the town of Bielsa. We wanted have a break and get a few jobs done in a town but Bielsa had nothing we needed. We stayed the night and bussed to Ainsa. We stayed 2 days. It was like having a weekend off from work.