The Pyrenees 2010: GR10 and GR11

The trail GR 10 runs between the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean ocean on the French side of the Pyrenees and the GR 11 is on the Spanish side. We walked for two weeks on the GR10 in the west of Pyrenees in 2009 read more about that here. We really liked the French side of the Pyrenees and we longed back, but this time we also wanted to try to walk on the Spanish side, on the GR11.

There are some places where you can cross the border by foot and that’s what we did. We started in Cauterets in France and walked to Spain and we walked on the GR11 for eight days before we crossed the border again and walked east back to Cauterets on the GR10.

In France everyone you meet says ” bonjour”,  but in Spain they say ” hola”. In France they call the cottages gite but in Spain it is refuge. We found the difference between the countries interesting. The mountains in Spain are a little higher and tougher, it was steeper,  there was more snow and they were more spectacular. There were less animals and no farm houses that sold cheese as on the French side and we did not pass as many villages. We often get the question which side we like the best– it’s impossible to answer, both are wonderful, just different.

Our travel journals

There are quite a lot of tourists in the mid Pyrenees in both countries. People are biking, doing short walks and long ones. But the nature is so huge you usually don’t meet many people during the day. You find them at the refuges in the evenings. The refuges in Spain are often simple, since they are often up high, far away from  civilization,  there is limited electricity and hot water is a luxury. The food usually tasted good even though we got the same food for three nights in a row, chicken and beans. In some places you could buy some food for cooking like pasta, bread and gas for your stove. To be sure of getting a bed you should call ahead and book, usually it’s enough the night before. We didn’t do that often since we had a tent with us.  You can easily camp outside the refuges or if you want, somewhere else in the wilderness.

The guidebook we used was Trekking in the Pyrenees by Douglas Streatfield-James from Trailblazer. It was good, but we felt it was better for the GR10 than for GR11.

Our trip marked out on Google maps.

More about this later!



Here we will collect images of some of the  flowers we have seen on our hikes.

You are welcome to help us finding the right names. For instance sometimes it can be hard to find the correct names in English as this is not our main language so we are very happy for any kind of help with this. Our main language is Swedish so we have include these names as well.

This section will collect both common things that you can see and also some more rare things. Mostly to give you an idea of the nature we have been walking in.

About Alta Via 1

Alta Via 1 starts at Lago di Braies and ends at Dobiacco. It took us
ten days. But it’s possible to do it in a shorter time or a longer
time. There are a lot of Rifugies on the way , often you can choose to
do a short or a longer day. There are also some alternatives on the
way that you might want to do. We walked down to Cortina on the fourth
day to buy some food and get some money, which took us an extra half

It’s a beautiful trail, you are really spoiled with spectacular views.
There are many people wandering the tracks and in the Rifuges, some of
them are walking Alta Via 1, some of them are doing shorter hikes,
others are climbing, some are day tourists and even germans walking
from Munich to Venice. We were there in the end of July and the
beginning of August, which of course is the most popular period.

It’s not easy to camp, although we met some people who did. Most
people stay at the Rifuges and take the half pension. We slept in the
Rifuges but we also had food with us. We thought the breakfast was
expensive and not worth the price and usually it was only white bread
with jam. We did our own breakfast most of the time. The dinner at the
Rifuges was quite good, pasta, polenta, knödel, Apfelstrudel and
Tiramisu… We also choice to do our own cooking although we didn’t
always have a chose, we had to eat at some places in order to get a
bed. We had to bring all the food we cooked and the gas with us, it’s
not possible to buy food on the way except for maybe bread and

In the beginning we didn’t book the Rifuges but realized after a long
day walking in heavy rain arriving at a full Rifuge, it’s a good idea
to do so, usually it’s enough to call the night before.

In most places we could drink the water from the tap, and in some
places there was drinkable water in the tracks. We only had to buy
water once. The coffee and the beer is great! At most of the Rifuges
you can get espresso and cappuccino. They have Italian Frost and
german Weissbier. The wine is okay and very cheap.

The guidebook we brought was Dolomites Trecking- Alta Via 1: Alta Via 2; second edition 2005 by Henry Stedman. Publisher: Trailblazer Publications. It was ok. However we met a italian man Paulo Cervigni on our way and he is writing a new guidebook that will come out 2012
in english. The map we used was Tabacco 031, 03, 025, 024.

The Dolomites: Day 1

Lago di Braies – Rifugio Sennes

Anna at the start of Alta Via 1, Lago de Braies

We arrived by bus from Dobiacco around 8.30 in the morning to the lake Lago de Braies where the Alta Via 1 trail starts. We were both very exited to get started. We were stunned by the beautiful landscape, the shiny green lake surrounded by the mountains. We walked along the see before we did a long climbing in a stony hill. Part of it was was quite steep and difficult, but there were chains to hold on to.


Climbing the first mountain, leaving the Lago de Braies behind us

The sun shined partly and it was hot. When we got close to the top it started drizzling .


The weather is changing

On the top ”Forcella Sora Forno” 2388m we looked down on a wonderful valley and we experienced the first panorama view of the trip. It began to rain more and we hurried down to Rifugio Biella.


Rif. Biella

We went inside for a coffee/tea and waited for the rain to pass by. When the rain stopped we went outside and had our first lunch of the trip.


Bread, tomatoes, ham and parmesan

The view was wonderful and we met some really nice people to talk to.


Stefano, Riccardo, Paolo and Anna outside Rif. Biella

Paulo is writing a new guidebook for the Alta Via one. Here he is telling us that he will walk all the way to Venice. Riccardo and Stefano, who are standing in the back, we get to know better in a few days.

We would have loved to stay in this lovely rifugio with the nice people but we found it to early in the day to stop. We walked for about one more hour , easy walk slightly downhill to Rif. Sennes. We arrived around 3 pm and took an Italian Forst (beer) in the sun on the porch.


Rif. Sennes, 2126 m, the first night sleep.

In the evening it rained really hard, but we managed to cook a delicious Thai Stew with couscous. Later on the sun started shining and this wonderful rainbow appeared! The rainbow is like a symbol for the weather we had for the whole trip, it was sun and rain every day and sometimes at the same time.


Rainbow at Rif. Sennes.

Good night!


Annas backpacks – AK01 and AK02

Make your own back pack

Some years ago I visited my dear friend Kerstin and her boyfriend Thom in Bremen. They are both into hiking and also interested in hiking with as light a pack as possible. They have given me a lot of good advice and also been so kind and lent me their light tarp tent and their wood stove a couple of times.

During my visit they showed me their backpacks that they have made themselves, they were very tiny and very very light, I think they didn’t weigh more than 300 gr. That inspired me to make one for myself. I started to search on the net and found a lot of people who shared their experiences and knowledge in making their own gear. One site I can really recommend is Anders Jonssons, a Swedish guy who makes all his gear himself.

This inspired me to start sketching my first backpack and I used Anders backpack as a starting-point. I decided to make it a little bit bigger than Thom and Kerstins as I’m not that hard core yet. I found the materials at Shelby in Finland, I chose two kinds of fabric; one that was a little bit stronger and heavier for the back and bottom and one that was lighter and thinner but still quite strong. I also ordered buckles and webbings. I sew it during Christmas at my mothers place, who is a tailor and has a big cutting table and some nice sewing machines. I usually spend Christmas there making clothes so she is used to me taking over her sewing studio during the holiday.

It turned out to be really fun to make and not as hard as you might expect. A little tricky now and then as because I made the pattern myself, I didn’t have any real instructions. My goal was to make a back pack that weighed 500 gr and the end result was slightly higher 575 gr but I have to say I am really happy with the result.

My hiking friend Ýrr was jealous, so we decided to make a deal – a really good deal! She knitted me a really nice Icelandic sweater and I made her a backpack. And I have to say my second became even better then my first so I will soon start making myself a new one.

I have used the backpack on two longer hikes and one shorter. I have had to make some small repairs but never anything serious.

I can really recommend making your own backpack, unfortunately I do not have any proper pattern, further down you can see a sketch of my backpack pattern. You can find plenty on the net, for example at backpacking.net.







Lentil stew

1. Dried vegetables in water,  2. 1-2 hours later, 3. The Lentil stew

Put some dried vegetables in water. For two persons ca half full 75 cl bowl.
Suggestion: Leek, paprika, sweet potato, peas, carrot, celery and broccoli. This combination gives good taste, nice color and is nutritious.
The vegetables will be ready to use in 1-2 hours.

Boil ca 2 dl of red lenses (we choose red lenses since you don’t have to boil them for more than 10 min.)
Boil ca 1 dl of bulgur.

Fry the vegetables and put in some spices
Suggestion: cumin, ginger, cinnamon, thyme, chili, curry paste, pepper, salt and vegetable extract cube. And put in some honey and balsamico for a little taste of sweet and sour.

Mix the vegetables, the lenses and the bulgur in the pot and put in some cream (cream is luxury in the mountains and something you don’t have in your backpack all the time, you can of course skip it) and stir. Take the stew of the stove and serve with some fried union on the top.

This really taste delicious especially with the cream. The sweet potato and lenses is such a good mixture.


Day 2

Rifugio Sennes – Rifugio Fanes

In the morning outside the Rif. Sennes, cows and marmots are up

We woke up early in the morning, the sun was shining and we where eager to get started, We made our breakfast on the rifugo balcony and at 8.30 we were ready to begin our second day walk.


Ýrr is ready to go

The first part of the day we followed a beautiful path with pine threes and after some time we came to a small ”village” with a small chapel and the Rifuge Fodara Vedla (1980m).


Fodra Vedla 

We walked down a road, the view was beautiful but it was a quite boring walk. We met a lot of people coming up from the valley and Rifugio Pederü. When we got down we took some lunch outside Rif. Pederü before we started the climbing up on the other side of the valley.


Anna on the road on her way down to Rif. Pederü


 On our way up to Rif. Fanes

A few minutes before we reached Rif Fanes we came to a new Rifuge owned by a family, we decided to stay there, we don’t know the name of the place but it was really nice.


The Rifuge close by Rif Fanes.

It was still early in the day, we had our second lunch, walked around, and relaxed.


Anna reading 


Ýrr swinging

We cooked dinner at our rifuge, Risotto with mushrooms. It tasted delicious! After dinner we walked up to Rif. Fanes and had a glass of wine. We met a danish guy who we talked to for while and we talked to Paulo again, the man that is writing the guidebook, sadly it was the last time we saw him. We looked at the sunset before we went back to our rifuge and went to sleep at ten o’clock.


A mountain that reminded us of a dinosaur, here in the sunset.


Day 3

Rifugio Fanes – Rifugio Dibona

The Mountain Dinosaur early in the morning

Day 3 started with a lovely breakfast at the Rifuge. They served us a wonderful yogurt with honey and we where both happy as children and didn’t save much for the the other guests. We also got some nice homemade bread. We talked a little to two other guests from Rosenthal.

We where packed and ready to leave at 7.30. On our way up our first climb we met one German women with her 10 year old daughter (Regina and Marie). We chatted a bit with them, they where also following Alta Via 1. But unfortunately after this we lost them and we didn’t meet them until the end of our hike. But more about that later.


After 15 min climb we came up to a green valley with a lot of rocks and marmots.


The marmots are curious but it is hard to get a close photo of them.

We tried to get some nice images of the marmots, but that isn’t an easy task.


The glacier Marmolada

The view was always beautiful, but this day was something extra. We saw Marmolada, a glacier with the highest point of the Dolomites (3 400m) Ýrr was really enjoying it since she is used to look at it from the other side during the skiing season.



At the end of the valley we started to climb up towards a cleft in the mountain. It took us about twenty minutes to reach it and on the other side the cleft was really steep (but not difficult). At the bottom we could see the lake Lago di Lagazoui and we could with our eyes follow the alta via path all the way to the next rifuge, Rif Lagazoui. The stones on the ground were white and the cliff walls were red. It was breathtaking!


Ýrr on her way down in the cleft


With our new friends Riccardo and Stephano

After a short break we meet Riccardo and Stephano again and we continued the walk together with them. We started climbing again towards Rif. Lagazoui. When we got at the top we decided to continue for some more hours to Rif. Dibona.


Anna at the top taking picture of the wonderful view.

We were hungry but it started to rain a little so we decided to continue walking.


We walked down towards a new beautiful valley.



The rain stopped and the sun started to shine again. We took a nice lunch break. And then we continued down to Rif. Dibona. We hadn’t booked beds and we were a little nervous because it was Saturday night and a lot of the rifuges are full in the weekends. But everything went well and we had a really nice evening at the rifugio. We had Pasta, Polenta, Tiramisu and Apfelstrudel for dinner. After dinner we looked at the sunset and went to bed at 10 o’clock, tired and happy after a long and wonderful day of walking.


Waiting for dinner at Rif. Dibona


Day 4

Rif. Dibona – Rif. Nuvolau

We started the day with a really bad breakfast, dry bread with plastic packaged jam. That kind of breakfast was common at the rifuges so most of the time we made our own. But this morning we wanted to have breakfast with our friends as we had to say goodbye since we would take separate ways from now on.

Our plan for the day was to walk to Cortina and get some money and buy some more food. The walk took us about two hours through a forest and in the end we walked down green sloping fields that are used for skiing in the winter.


Walking down the ski slopes to Cortina

It felt strange to walk into a city, we quickly found some food and hurried to the bus station to find a bus that would take us back to the mountains as soon as possible.

The bus driver dropped us at a wrong place so we had to follow a different track to get to Alta Via 1. We lost the trail for a while and ended up at an overgrown forest path, but somehow we where convinced that we would find the right track somehow. After about a hour we found a track it was not the original Alta via 1 track but it would lead to the same destination according to our plan.

The first part was mainly forest. But as we came closer to the top the landscape opened up and the beautiful Dolomitian view appeared. We passed this big rock that was filled with climbers working their way to the top.


A beautiful rock filled with climbers

The last part up to Rif. Nuvolau was quite steep.


Yrr climbing up to Rif. Nuvolau


One of the 360° views from Rif. Nuvolau

Rif Nuvolau seemed to be a popular place for day tourists, we met a lot of people going down, seemed to be a big group of teenagers. But when we finally made it to the top (2575 m) it was around five o’clock and all the day tourists were gone, the place was nice and quiet, only some sleepovers were sitting outside looking at the panorama view.  We loved Nuvolau! it was just a beautiful place on the top of the mountain. It was simple, with no hot water and only cold rainwater to wash yourself with.


Rifugio Nuvalou

We got our beds in a small room that we shared with two girls from Holland Chris and Birgitte. We took a cold shower in the rain water. Tired, cold, clean and happy we sat down by the fire in the dining room with our room mates. We ate delicious pasta together and had a wonderful evening talking, playing Yatzee and giggling.


Yrr and Birgitte Yatzee arm wrestling  

We didn’t see the sunset that night it was to foggy, but we all agreed on getting up at six o’clock to see the sunrise.


Annas pack list for the Dolomites 2011

This is my pack list for the hike on Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites 2011 (1.5 L water and some extra food added up the back pack to approximately 11 kg). I try to improve my packing every year and find gear that have low weight. Since last year I have I have approximatelly lowered my ground weight with 1-1,5 kg. You can compare with my packinglist from last year when I was hiking in the Pyrenees. See below

2 tank tops 119
1 long-sleeved 120
1 small wool sweater 143
1 Iclandic sweater (DIY) 256
1 rainponcho (could probably skiped this) 200
1 rain/windjacket 204
1 rain trousers (yrrs) 150
1 zip-off trousers (wearing) 374
3 pair of briefs 70
3 pair of socks 75
1 pair of wool tights 89
1 pair of tights (thin) 79
2 buff 70
Dress (for sleep and travel)  134
2 pair of bra 57
First-aid kit:
Steri-Strip™ Adhesive Skin Closures 5
Elastic bandage 37
Blister blocks 25
Band-Aid 3
Medicin 29
Disinfectant solution 63
Wound compresses 12
Medicin tape 20
Wet wipe 25
Plate/bowl with cover 89
Spoon 8
Knife 37
Mug 23
Tea-strainer 5
Dried vegetables 470
Tea 21
Coconut powder 130
Fruit purée (break first) 161
Olive Oil 244
Müsli 186
Dried fruit 274
Towel 141
Toothbrush 9
Toothpaste 48
Schampo 93
Soap 43
Lotion 72
Sunblocker 58
Sunstick 31
Earplug 15
Pinsett 7
Nail scissors 14
Tampons  10
Toilet bag 16
Deodorant 44
Tarp tent 957
Sleeping bag 804
Ground sheet 310
Resquekit:* 50
Gaffatejp 70
*Spinnaker tape
*Sewing things
*Spare parts back pack
Other things
Walking sticks 474
Teva sandals 388
Compass 7
Maps 324
Penn 4
Note book 22
Passport 34
Camera 335
Charger phone 49
Charger camera 89
Cell phone 83
Binoculars 215
Washing soap 40
Sitting ground sheet 18
Reading glasses 13
Sunglasses 22
Flashlight 19
Back pack (DIY) 575
Stuff sacks 43
Waterbottle 5 dl 28
Water hose 65
Waterbottle 1,5 l 60
Net sack 5
Handbag/stuffsack 23
Wallet 3
Lipstick 9
 SUM  9 751 kg

Ýrrs packing list 2011

I try to pack as light as possible not bringing anything I will not use. I have some favorite stuff that makes my hiking mote comfortable.
A small dress to put on in the evenings and to sleep in. It’s a pleasure taking of the boots after a long day of walking and putting on the Teva sandals. The buff keeps my hair in place and can also been used to keep my head or neck warm. Bringing a book to read is worth the extra grams, it’s lovely to read a little before sleeping or when you finish the walk early. Headlamp is good when you need to do stuff in a dark room filled with people sleeping or when you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You really get to appreciate earplugs when you sleep in a room with other people.  A small stomach bag were I keep all the small stuff I need during the day like, peanuts, sunstick and the guidebook,

My backpack weight around 9- 10 kg without water but of course it’s not a complete packing since I was not walking alone. Anna had some stuff I needed and I had some stuff she needed.

1 tank top
1 t-shirt
1 long-sleeved kashmir wool
1 thin fleece sweater
1 Icelandic wool sweater (DIY)
1 sharon
1 rain/wind jacket
1 rain trousers
1 zip-off trousers (wearing)
3 pair of briefs
3 pair of socks
1 pair of wool tights
1 pair of nylon tights (thin)
1 buff
Dress (for sleep and evenings)
2 pair of bra

First-aid kit:
Blister blocks
Pain killers
Tiger balsam
 Hair conditioner
Plate/bowl with cover
Knife, fork, spoon
gas kitchen
 two pots
 washing up liquid
small tea cloth
 Dried vegetables, sweet potatos, aubergine, onion
 Dried banans
Hot chocolate
Varma koppen
 Sleeping bag
 Ground sheet
Other things
Walking sticks
Teva sandals
Note book
Charger phone
Charger camera
Cell phone
Sitting ground sheet
Back pack (DIY)
Net sack

Icelandic wool sweaters

Ýrrs knitted wool sweaters.

Icelandic wool sweaters are warm and comfortable. They are nice to wear in the evenings. The knitted pattern is typical, but I designed them as we wanted them practical for our hiking. Since I don’t like wool close to my face and neck I made a wide collar on my sweater, Anna wanted a collar to warm her neck and she wanted a zipper. The sweaters are tight, since we don’t want any extra weight. Here are some free patterns

Anna and I made a deal, she made me a backpack and I knitted her a sweater.

Annas tips on drying mushrooms

I (Anna) have another passion in life and that is picking mushrooms in the autumn.

One way to preserve the mushrooms and enjoy the mushrooms for your hike and the rest of the year, it is to dry them. Some mushrooms taste much stronger when dried. This is very simple to do but if you have been lucky on your mushroom hunt your harvest can take up a lot of space for a few days. You can also use a circotherm oven or a mushroom dryer but I prefer to dry the mushroom on my big table, maybe because I like the sight of them.

Mushrooms I recommend to dry is: Funnel Chanterelle (Cantharellus tubaeformis), Black chanterelle or Black trumpet(Craterellus cornucopioides) and Porcino (Boletus edulis).

Don’t pick any mushrooms if you are not sure they are edible or not. Never ever take any chances. The best way to learn how to pick and find mushrooms is to accompany someone who knows and who is willing to teach you. I have picked mushrooms since I was a kid, my father was my first teacher and later also my brother. A good website for mushroom pickers in Sweden is svampguiden.com.

Start by cleaning the mushrooms with a brush, the Funnel Chanterelle should be divided as you sometimes find insects or snails hiding inside the funnel. Cut the bigger mushrooms in small pieces and spread them out on some newspaper. In a few days they will shrunk and if they feel dry you can put them in a glass pot. But wait some extra days before you close the pot, just to make sure they are completely dry.

The dried mushrooms can be stored for many years as long as you keep them dry in a container.

Dried mushrooms are really nice to bring on a hike, to be used in pasta sauces, risotto or a warm hot soup. Just let them soak in some water for a while and then fry/parboil them in a pan, add oil or butter when the water is gone.


Black trumpet

1. Black trumpet 2. Dried Black Trumpet



Day 5

Rif. Nouvalou – Rif. Staulanza

Waking up at six o’clock to experience the sunrise seemed to be a great idea. It was so beautiful we almost got religious


The morning view outside our bedroom window

We made breakfast surrounded by the sunny mountaintops.


Making breakfast

We really enjoyed the early morning at this wonderful place. Ýrr did some yoga on the helicopter platform together with the girls that worked at the Rifuge.


Morning Yoga, welcoming the sun.

Taking the last look at the view 

We said goodbye to our Dutch friends and left around eight o’clock. The sun was shining and the view was clear. We walked down from the Rifuge and continued around the mountain enjoying the weather and the view.


Walking down to a new valley

We walked through a wonderful rocky landscape with a lot of remarkable rocks in different shapes. We had our second breakfast or early lunch around eleven o’clock.


A rock

Around two o’clock the weather started to change, it started raining. We were about to eat our lunch but we skipped it and continued walking. About an hour later we came to the Rifuge Cita di Fume, but unfortunately there were no free beds for us! The rain had stopped, we were hungry like dogs. We decided to cook some fresh pasta we had bought in Cortina. In the middle of the cooking process it started to rain again, quite hard but we finished the cooking in the rain. We ate the pasta and went inside to have a hot chocolate (that was more like hot chocolate pudding) while we were thinking of what to do. We decided to continue further down to Rif. Staulanza where we arrived around 5.30 pm really tired and wet.


The ski boots warmer, works as good in the summer as it does in the winter.

We didn’t really like Rif. Staulanza, it was by a road, quite big and more like a hotel than a Rif and the shower cost 4 euro. But we had some good food, Tagiatelli with deer.
The rain was poring down the whole night. We went to bed really tired and decided to take it easy the next day.



Day 6

Rif. Staulanza – Rif. Coldai

We didn’t set the alarm but we woke up at seven o’clock without any help, and ate breakfast at the Rifuge. It was a nice breakfast with yogurt (we like yogurt!). We were slow this morning and didn’t leave until 09.30 am. We were tired after three quite long days of walking. We started in the forest by mostly going down. It was soft and nice. The sun was shining and it was hot. After a little bit more than an hour we came down to a road, with a camping and some hotels, where we found a ski lift. It was a sit lift that would save us 300m of quite boring climbing, we decided to take the lift. It was the first time Anna  took a sit lift in her life. She was a little nervous in the beginning but she did really good.


Anna entering a sit lift for the first time in her life.

We continued by foot after the lift, we had to climb 300m further to Rif. Coldai. It was quite steep and really hot.


The view we had on our way up

We arrived to the rifuge around one o’clock. It was fully booked and no beds for us, but the guy told us to check in again  around eight o’clock. We made some lunch outside the rifuge, washed our cloths and lied down in the grass, relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful view.


Soft afternoon in the grass outside Rif Coldai.

After some hours Ýrrs eyes started itching really badly. We got up from the grass and bought a glas of wine and sat outside the Rif.


A glas of wine outside the Rifuge Coldai

But Ýrrs eye didn’t stop itching, it tuned out she had a big blister in her eye, probably some kind of allergic reaction.


Ýrrs one eyed evening

We went inside to get out of the sun, Anna nursed the eye patient and we played some cards.
After a while we went outside again and cooked dinner at the helicopter plateau. We made a lentil stew with a lot of different spices and cream. It tasted really, really good!


Cooking at the helicopter plateau

Luckily some people that had booked beds didn’t show up and we got two beds in a room we shared with 15 people. After dinner we played some more cards and looked at the sunset.


We put our earplugs in and went to bed at 9.30pm.