Author Topic: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog  (Read 4817 times)

IanyZen

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TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« on: 14:19:47, 21/07/14 »
Hi,
This is my trip report on my 3 week trek with Zen, in the Spanish Pyrenees loosely following the GR11 path from Bujaruelo (near Torla) to Espot from May 26th to June 18th 2014.
Disclaimer: This is the first trip report I’ve ever written..so forgive me if I ramble on.. just look at the photos or skip to day 5 when I cranked it up!
_________________________________________________________________________________________
“I’m always early & I’m always lucky with the weather!”
Beginning my 3-week Spanish Pyrenees trek in May, maybe, I was pushing my luck. Every guide book advises to start after 15th June, when most of the refugios (manned mountain lodges) open. Snow levels are my major concern, especially as I have little to no alpine trekking experience. Another ‘must have’ the guide books mention. Begs the question: How do you get alpine experience without walking in the mountains? Cue one reason to go, plus, to improve my very suspect map reading skills, which will be tested when the snow covers all the paths. Sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end, or rather deep snow.
For fun I trek with Zen, my dog, who found me 4 years ago wandering lost through second-hand book shops in Mexico City.
 

Zen (5½ years old) & me, Ian (many more) – [/font]el Parque nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
I go with trepidation, losing sleep worrying about getting lost, the near vertical descents, slipping into a frozen lake, the afternoon thunderous storms, being stuck by lightning, Zen being attacked by Patous dogs…Am I paranoid?
I have confidence in my stuff, virtually everything’s tried and tested, apart from the trekking shoes - microspikes combo in the snow, as it never snowed on the South Downs last winter. Fitness-wise, I’m not daunted by the 1000metre+ ascents/descents for me or Zen, who’s a mountain goat in disguise.
26th May Brighton to Lescun, France
Ascent - 500m
 

Part of Cirque de Lescun, France
May 27th  Lescun to Candanchu, Spain
Ascent – 1000m                                Descent – 600m
I feel lucky today. I had pitched the tent perfectly to get the first rays of sunlight. Warmed us up lovely and dried the tent. My aim is to cross over the French-Spanish border at Col de Pau (1942m) and descend to camp at La Mina (1230m) on the GR11. Confidence is a wonderful thing, when you have it. On my first day, I just haven’t gained it, so when the French walkers I met at Cabane de Bonaris (1688m) advised me against crossing the snowy pass, I lacked the courage to disagree, even though it was only 45 mins away. A downer, though Zen was loving the snow.
 

View from Torla towards entrance to el Parque nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido

 

Torla
With renewed optimism we leave Torla for San Nicolás de Bujaruelo, actually heading back West along the GR11. Reasons being, the refugio at Bujaruelo was first of three places on the GR11 I had posted Zen’s favourite dry food to. Plus, it was reputed to be the best refugio on the whole GR11. It didn’t disappoint. Even though the camping site didn’t officially open until 1st June, we were able to camp, with the added plus of using the refugio’s lovely bathrooms, giving me the opportunity to wander around the beautifully designed 3 story wooden cabaña, with the attic dormitory. Unlike other refugios there are no double or triple bunk beds, but single comfy thick mattresses, discreetly placed affording some privacy, with bedding, pillows and colourful blankets. Alas, dogs are not allowed in refugios so we’ll always be camping, for better or worse.
 

Canoeists on Rio Ara, San Nicolás de Bujaruelo
 

Way up to Puerto de Bujaruelo
 
[IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/2yo4idc.jpg[/IMG]
The view towards Gavarnie, France from Puerto de Bujaruelo (2273m).
A great learning experience. I got to try out my micro-spikes in the snow, have some fun sliding down the snow and discover the best way to stop myself without an ice axe, all with Zen attached. Sadly, I have as yet, gained the confidence to let him free. Be patient Zen, your freedom will come soon. Also saw lots of marmots, frustrating Zen even more, as he loves a chase.
Most satisfying of all is that for the first time, I managed to complete a planned walk! I rewarded myself with a dip in the river. Brrrrr!
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
More to follow. Hope you like it.
« Last Edit: 23:40:09, 07/08/14 by Chris »
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #1 on: 14:22:02, 21/07/14 »
[size=78%]May 31st – [/size][size=78%]San Nicolás de Bujaruelo[/size][size=78%] to [/size][size=78%]el [/size]Refugio de Góriz
Ascent - 1600m                 Descent - 800m
Five days in, now, we crank it up, spectacularly!
 

Cascada de Arripas, el Parque nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
 

Zen, moving too fast for my Lumix camera, Camino Viejo a Ordesa (Old path to Ordesa)
 

Cañón de Ordesa, el Parque nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
 
[IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/3307hiv.jpg[/IMG]
Just beforeRefugio de Góriz (2200m), Cañón de Ordesa, el Parque nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
Refugio de Góriz was buzzing, crammed full of 80 odd eagerly excited climbers, prepared for the first clear weather for a month. Me, the only Brit and walker, a little overwhelmed by their sheer madness and equipment, tucked into a huge meal with some Spanish climbers tackling Monte Perdido. Plenty of juicy, spicy salchichas leftover – Lucky Zen.  (Remember, he’s from Mexico – spicier the better.)
We camped in the snow nearby, but far enough not to be disturbed by the early risers.
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #2 on: 14:23:10, 21/07/14 »
Sorry, folks...the site is not adding all photos ..
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

dittzzy

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #3 on: 11:13:06, 16/11/14 »
I'm sorry too, I like what I've seen and read so far.  Class!  O0 O0

Snowman

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #4 on: 10:30:14, 19/12/14 »
Nice to read this, it takes me back to when I did pretty much the same area as you've done here (this was back in 2000).


When I got to the Goriz Hut it was so busy and claustrophobic that I didn't stop.    I carried on to the Anisclo Canyon and ended up having probably the worst night of my life.    I'd decided to try minimalist camping and took a Bivi Bag, which was fine until about midnight when a storm hit and didn't let up until midday next day.   The Bivi Bag was Goretex but decidedly not breathable enough so I felt like a boil in the bag meal.   


I notice that you mentioned Bujaruelo (I've got some simlar pics of the river going up there from Torla) and assume that it's now 'open'?    We were anticipating a short walk to Bujaruelo where we'd get a bed, dinner and a few beers before heading back into the mountains next day, but we arrived and found it was 'closed for renovation'.    Absolutely nothing and nobody there.    Messed up our supplies planning completely so we had to head back to Gavarnie.


Anyway I'm sure  you enjoyed it.    It's now over 14 years since I did the trip and much of it is still fresh in my mind.

April

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #5 on: 15:30:25, 19/12/14 »
I have enjoyed what I have seen so far  O0 I had problems the other day posting my TR too. I look forward to more. Still smiling about Zen liking spicy food  :)
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #6 on: 22:18:40, 03/01/15 »
Thanks for your nice comments...I will attempt to complete my trip report..First I have addded to first five or so days of my trip as some parts were missing. Then I will try and post photos separately with descriptions.
 This is my trip report on my 3 week trek with Zen, in the Spanish Pyrenees loosely following the GR11 path from Bujaruelo (near Torla) to Espot from May 26th to June 18th 2014.
Disclaimer: This is the first trip report I’ve ever written..so forgive me if I ramble on.. just look at the photos (posted later) or skip to day 6 when I cranked it up!
_________________________________________________________________________________________
“I’m always early & I’m always lucky with the weather!”
Beginning my 3-week Spanish Pyrenees trek in May, maybe, I was pushing my luck. Every guide book advises to start after 15th June, when most of the refugios (manned mountain lodges) open. Snow levels are my major concern, especially as I have little to no alpine trekking experience. Another ‘must have’ the guide books mention. Begs the question: How do you get alpine experience without walking in the mountains? Cue one reason to go, plus, to improve my very suspect map reading skills, which will be tested when the snow covers all the paths. Sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end, or rather deep snow.
For fun I trek with Zen, my dog, who found me 4 years ago wandering lost through second-hand book shops in Mexico City.
I go with trepidation, losing sleep worrying about getting lost, the near vertical descents, slipping into a frozen lake, the afternoon thunderous storms, being stuck by lightning, Zen being attacked by Patous dogs…Am I paranoid?
I have confidence in my stuff, virtually everything’s tried and tested, apart from the trekking shoes - microspikes combo in the snow, as it never snowed on the South Downs last winter. Fitness-wise, I’m not daunted by the 1000metre+ ascents/descents for me or Zen, who’s a mountain goat in disguise.
Day 1: 26th May Brighton to Lescun, France
Ascent - 500m
After 24 hours of travelling from Brighton, me and Zen hop off the bus at the foot of the Pyrenean mountain road to Lescun, France, just as a drizzle set in. Hitching in the rain is tough, with a dog, nigh on impossible, so after 1½ hours meandering up the windy road I strolled into an almost deserted cloud-covered Lescun (893m), hiding its famous photogenic beauty. I wasted no time in brushing up on my Spanish, getting directions to the only campsite, slightly out of town. Unsurprisingly, as darkness drew in we crashed out, relieved to have arrived.
Day 2: May 27th  Lescun to Candanchu, Spain
Ascent – 1000m                                Descent – 600m
I feel lucky today. I had pitched the tent perfectly to get the first rays of sunlight. Warmed us up lovely and dried the tent. My aim is to cross over the French-Spanish border at Col de Pau (1942m) and descend to camp at La Mina (1230m) on the GR11. Confidence is a wonderful thing, when you have it. On my first day, I just haven’t gained it, so when the French walkers I met at Cabane de Bonaris (1688m) advised me against crossing the snowy pass, I lacked the courage to disagree, even though it was only 45 mins away. A downer, though Zen was loving the snow.
All was not lost, after descending, almost to the campsite, the French guys passed me in their car and gave us a lift to the main road, where we caught a bus over the border to Canfranc (1190m). An hour’s walk up the main road and we’re in Candanchu (1545m), a ski resort, without snow or a soul. A bit eerie so I make my way a little along the GR11 and wild-camp. Strangely, I feel at ease, at home, in Spain on the GR11.
Day 3: May 28th Candanchu to Candanchu !
Ascent – 200m              Descent – 200m
I begin again, with fresh hopes, only to be dashed once more. It wasn’t the persistent falling rain, rather the rain and snow melt swelling the rivers to a ragging impassable level. Each one being more treacherous. I feared for me and Zen. Do I continue, hoping the next is crossable, or turn back, hoping the previous ones haven’t grown uncrossable? For the second day I chicken out, further denting my confidence. We spend the rest of the day sheltered in a picnic area, marvelling at the rain & the shades of green vegetation clinging to the mountains, whilst listening to the bells of the visiting cows. Annoyingly, I had my first equipment failure – my Trespass rucksack cover was inexcusably wetter on its inside. With numerous cups of hot soup, I contemplate my options for the rest of my three week trek. Little did I know that this would be my one and only rainy day! I did say I am lucky with the weather!
Day 4: May 29th Candanchu to San Nicolas de Bujaruelo
Ascent – 300m  Descent – 250m
I awoke to a cloudly rainless sky. I speedily packed and was on the path down to Canfranc with an urgency to escape from this rain-sodden valley. Once in Canfranc I chatted to a coach driver heading in the opposite direction, who reduced my options to one, with the dishearting news: “Los perros no pueden viajar en autobuses o trenes en España, sin una jaula”. ("Dogs are not permitted on trains and buses with out a cage") Zen’s box (I hate the word ‘cage’) was something I couldn’t quite fit in the backpack. Taxi or nothing then! While waiting, I realise the coach driver was the first person I had seen or spoken to for more than 36 hours. I made up for this by having a good old chin-wag about the ski and walking tourists with the taxi driver, Roberto who, for a reasonable price took us to Torla, 1½ hours away. Amazingly, as soon as we left the town brilliant blue sky appeared and accompanied us all the way. Chuffed, at my excellent decision, I vowed never to look back. El Parque nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido here we come. Visiting Torla, originally not on my plan, gave me and Zen the chance of a feed, to stock up on snacks and buy a new rucksack cover. The camping shop guy was full of up to date valuable advice about the paths ahead and sold me a much better map detailing alternative routes…I was determined to find a way across these mountains. I was three days ahead of schedule, so time was on my side.
Torla
With renewed optimism we leave Torla for San Nicolás de Bujaruelo, actually heading back West along the GR11. Reasons being, the refugio at Bujaruelo was first of three places on the GR11 I had posted Zen’s favourite dry food to. Plus, it was reputed to be the best refugio on the whole GR11. It didn’t disappoint. Even though the camping site didn’t officially open until 1st June, we were able to camp, with the added plus of using the refugio’s lovely bathrooms, giving me the opportunity to wander around the beautifully designed 3 story wooden cabaña, with the attic dormitory. Unlike other refugios there are no double or triple bunk beds, but single comfy thick mattresses, discreetly placed affording some privacy, with bedding, pillows and colourful blankets. Alas, dogs are not allowed in refugios so we’ll always be camping, for better or worse.
Ester, the Duty Manager and Rafa, the Nepalese cook were fantastic. The set menu (menu del dia) was four delicious, abundant plates with good quality wine. In my case, 1 litre of wine and ½ litre of water. Proportions just right, don’t you agree?
Day 5: May 30th Day trip: San Nicolás de Bujaruelo - Puerto de Bujaruelo - San Nicolás de Bujaruelo
Ascent - 850m   Descent - 850m
Local knowledge is essential on any trek. Refugio staff are experts. Apart from local paths they receive superbly accurate weather forecasts, advising: “five days of blue skies ahead”. With this in mind, and being ahead of schedule I decided to go on a day trip, and climb up to the pass, Puerto de Bujaruelo (2273m), which continues onto Gavarnie in France.
A great learning experience. I got to try out my micro-spikes in the snow, have some fun sliding down the snow and discover the best way to stop myself without an ice axe, all with Zen attached. Sadly, I have as yet, gained the confidence to let him free. Be patient Zen, your freedom will come soon. Also saw lots of marmots, frustrating Zen even more, as he loves a chase.
Most satisfying of all is that for the first time, I managed to complete a planned walk! I rewarded myself with a dip in the river. Brrrrr!
Day 6: May 31st – San Nicolás de Bujaruelo to el Refugio de Góriz
Ascent - 1600m                 Descent - 800m
Five days in, now, we crank it up, spectacularly heading into Cañón de Ordesa, el Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
Refugio de Góriz was buzzing, crammed full of 80 odd eagerly excited climbers, prepared for the first clear weather for a month. Me, the only Brit and walker, a little overwhelmed by their sheer madness and equipment, tucked into a huge meal with some Spanish climbers tackling Monte Perdido. Plenty of juicy, spicy salchichas leftover – Lucky Zen.  (Remember, he’s from Mexico – spicier the better.)
We camped in the snow nearby, but far enough not to be disturbed by the early risers.
Day7: June 1st Refugio de Góriz to Escuain
Ascent - 800                                                                                     Descent - 1200
The dream was to visit Breche de Roland at 2800+m. Considering the snow at 2200m was knee deep, with my limited equipment I opted to head East on the GR11. I was on my own – all the climbers went… Up.
”Sólo tienes que seguir las pistas de esquí” (“Just follow the ski tracks”) the manager of the refugio advised. He left out the bit about what to do when inevitably the tracks stopped…
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #7 on: 22:25:57, 03/01/15 »
Let's try adding some photos...


                   
[IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/2yva2hs.jpg[/IMG]
‘Getting there is half the fun’ – Zen didn’t really get the idea. (sorry Zen)
(Taken with iphone on night ferry Newhaven to Dieppe)
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #8 on: 22:33:59, 03/01/15 »
Let's try some photos...

‘Getting there is half the fun’ – Zen didn’t really get the idea. (sorry Zen)
(Taken with iphone on night ferry Newhaven to Dieppe)
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #9 on: 22:40:27, 03/01/15 »
[IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/2mccaxf.jpg[/IMG
Lescun, France
                   
http://i61.tinypic.com/6p9ket.jpg[/IMG
Part of Cirque de Lescun, France
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #10 on: 22:54:46, 03/01/15 »

Lescun, France

 
 
Part of Cirque de Lescun, France
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #11 on: 23:00:19, 03/01/15 »




Mountain peaks between France & Spain in the background, Cabane de Bonaris, Parc National des Pyrenees, France


French trekkers at Cabane de Bonaris, Parc National des Pyrenees, France


Okay, I've figured how to post photos, but not all the right way round...practice will make perfect..in the meantime just turn your head..
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

IanyZen

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #12 on: 23:23:11, 03/01/15 »

Photo's are still out of line..try another day to get it right..




May 27th Wild-camp outside Candanchu on GR11 & GR65.3 Camino de Santiago



View from shelter




A wet Zen, sleeping on my bivi bag (protecting my down sleeping bag).




Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen

sunnydale

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #13 on: 07:21:41, 04/01/15 »
Looked a fantastic experience!  Great photos too  O0
***Happiness is only a smile away***

kukko

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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #14 on: 15:12:46, 28/04/16 »
Did you have any maps with you? I'm planning the GR11 but find it impossible to come up with any reasonable mapping solution... For GR5 I used four 1:100k IGN maps, which were perfect but unfortunately the IGN mapping grid won't reach far enough to the Spanish side. Can't carry 1:25k or 1:50k maps that seems to be the only available Spanish maps, expensive as well.

So far I might go with the Cicerone guide + make my own printed maps: http://www.walkingclub.org.uk/maps/topographic/spain.shtml
Anyone better ideas? (and no, no GPS)