11 August 2013

Hiking in the Pyrenees: Day 1

Andorra/ Spanish Pyrenees: Visited 19July13- 22July13

After 3 nights in Andorra La Vella I woke to a cool morning, ready to begin what turned out to be quite a tiring (but very enjoyable) 3 day hike, stopping at Refuges for the first 2 nights. Here's a captioned photo essay of my hike.

Hiked from La Comella (just outside Andorra La Vella) to Refugi del Orris, following first the road to the GR7 route, which met the GR11 route, which I followed for the remainder of the hike.
Leaving Civilization Behind. "It's just me and you now, pack"

The roaring Riu Madriu which I followed for all of Day 1
Panorama of my lunch stop at Refugi de Fontverd. I arrived from the valley to the right and continued along the Valley to the left. There was a water pump just outside the Refuge.
This is just a hint of the many beautiful views I had, of craggy mountains rising from scree, Pine forests, and sunny mountain valley meadows.

The first of many stream/ river crossings.

Looking back the way I'd come, Just outside Refugi del Orris, which was to be my bed for the night.
Refugi del Orris. After a snack outside the first drops of rain began to fall, signalling the beginning of that day's thunderstorm. I ducked inside the refuge to discover 2 Spanish girls already there. While we awaited the storm to finish we were joined by a group of 4 adults and about 14 kids who were stopping at the next refuge, Refugi de I'Illa. I decided to spend the night here instead, to avoid them, as although I knew Refugi de I'Illa was quite big, I thought it would be nicer to spend the night here. After the storm had passed the group moved on, and I enjoyed relaxing by the river (which was about 10ft in front of the Refuge) with my e-reader, and chatting to the Spanish girls. Later that evening a German Lady set up camp just outside the Refuge too.
That evening the Spanish girls set about lighting a fire in the wood burning stove area, as they had stopped there the previous night and been cold (I think they didn't have great sleeping bags, I was warm enough in mine) The refuges were all very basic, with a varying amount of metal bunks (this one had 6 spaces) and sometimes old foam mattresses, a bench table and chairs, and an area to burn firewood. There was no power of any sort, nor any toilets. Drinking water came from a small stream/spring that emerged from the rocks behind the Refuge, although I did see some people drinking water straight from the river.
This was my bed for the night. Despite the very basic facilities, I slept really well. I only woke once and that was when we were awakened by lights shining through the windows and banging on the door. A couple turned up at 1:30am. I think they were either very crazy, or had gotten very lost. Possibly a bit of both.
 After a quick wash in the cold river water, I set out at about 8am to make the most of the cool morning for hiking in, and began day 2 of my hike, which was to prove much more challenging...

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