The Pyrenees 2010: Day 5

Goriz – Pineta

We got up early, we knew we had a long and difficult day ahead. We made breakfast, packed our stuff and started walking.


A sheperd taking a walk with his dogs


Last look at Odresa

After about half an hour walk we realized we were on the wrong track. We had to go back and find the right track, we lost about one hour! We met some Spanish people we had seen the day before. they didn’t speak English but they gave us a sip from their pocket flask.


We started by walking down a valley.


Walking down

Some parts were really steep. We came down to Fuen Blanca (1700 m), a beautiful valley where some people where camping. We had lunch, canned sardines and bread, before we started climbing. It was a tough climbing of 700 m. We met some people on the way going the other direction.


Looking down at Fuen Blanca

A fantastic view waited for us at the top Collade Aniscio (2453 m).


At the top looking down at Fuen Blanca on the one side and Pineta on the other.

Pineta (1300 m) the place we were on our way to was really far down in the valley. We got vertigo! We had some bread and sausage before we started descending.


Ýrr about to start the descending

It was really steep and difficult. Actually this was the most difficult part of the trip. We had been warned by the guide book and by people we met and we had been nervous the whole day. It was difficult but it was doable even for people like Ýrr that suffers from vertigo. We walked really slow and careful and concentrated us on following the marks. The top was worst, farther down it was more zig zag.


Standing up on a ”wall” looking down at Pineta

We were really pleased with ourselves that we managed the toughest part and we considered us done, Pineta seemed close now. We thought we had an hour more to do, but we were fooling ourselves. The track didn’t go straight down it lead us to the right along the mountain and into a forest with a rocky and difficult terrain. We were dead tired and grumpy, but we managed. It took us four hours. When we came down we had to take off our boots and wade the last part to the Refuge. We have no pictures from this afternoon since none of us thought about taking pictures, I guess we were to tired and to concentrated.

We ate dinner at the refuge and fell asleep!


The Pyrenees 2010: Day 6

Pineta – Parzan

Our bodies were tired when me woke up. We had breakfast at the refuge and it took us a while to get started. We walked to the camping that was close by and bought some lunch, bread and canned clams.


Looking back at the steep mountain we climbed down from the day before.

Then we climbed up to a green plateau, in a nice little valley with a lot of day walkers. We had some problems finding the trail but finally we found it and started climbing. Pretty soon we stopped for lunch.


Typical lunch in Spain. Caned see food, tasted delicious.

Then there was a lot of climbing. We always thought we had reached the top… but no.


Finally we came to a new green plateau surrounded with rocks, very beautiful.


Green plateau surrounded by rocks.


Looking across the valley at the ”wall” we walked down the day before.

We continued with a short climbing to reach the top of this day (Small Col 2100m) .


Anna at the top, Small Col.

We walked slowly down on the other side of the mountain in a nice national park. Our bodies were sored from the day before. After about an hour we came to a parking lot and a road. We sat down and rested. There was only one family at the parking lot, we started talking to them and told them we were really tired. They offered us a lift down the road to our destination Parzan, we accepted. Parzan (1144 m) was a strange little town. It was on a highway with a big petrol station and a store. There was also a big hotel and some old stone houses. Our guidebook recommended Casa Marion. A house with modern flats, very fashionable for us! We bought food in the store and cooked in our kitchen. We had some wine and gave the rest to our neighbors in the flat next door, four nice people from Israel and Spain we got to know better later.


Casa Marion

After dinner we took a walk around the town.

We slept well in our big bedroom!


The Pyrenees 2010: day 7

Parzan – Refugio Viados

We woke up early and made breakfast in our kitchen. We payed our room, thanked Marion and gave him the rest of our milk.


Marion and Anna outside Casa Marion.

We started walking along the highway, it was boring and we tried to hitchhike but there were no cars.


Parzan in the shadow of the mountain.

After a while the track turned of the highway and we started climbing. After some hours of climbing we came to a power plant and a lake. We had lunch and we bathed our feet.


Anna by the lake

We continued climbing to the top, Collata Chistau (2324 m).


walk, walk, walk…

There was a small house on the top, we rested a short while outside and enjoyed the view before we started walking down.


At the top

For a long time we couldn’t find any track marks and we thought maybe we were on the wrong track. We came to the bottom of the valley and started climbing, we were worried and grumpy. But finally we found a mark and figured we were on the right track and our mood became so much better. We were happy for a while but soon we started to get really tired. We could hardly lift our feet the last 1,5 km up to the refugio Viados (1780 m) . We hadn’t booked beds and it turned out it was fully booked! We sat down outside the refuge to catch our breath, digest the bad news and to think… what to do?! But then the girl who worked at the place came outside and said she would work it out somehow and gave us beds. I guess she saw how tired we were and felt sorry for us. We were really thankful and had a great evening at this wonderful place.

We had dinner noodle soup, beans with garlic, potatoes, meat and a peach for dessert. The rest of the evening we spent outside looking at a wonderful mountain constantly changing color as the sun went down.


The Pyrenees 2010: day 8

Refugio Viados


After seven days of long hours walking we were quite tired. We loved this place and decided to stay at and relax for one day.

We slept in and didn’t get up until eight thirty. We had hot chocolate  and a cheese sandwich for breakfast outside the refuge.


Rifugio Viados

We washed all our hiking cloths and went for a short walk in the area around the refuge.


There was a camping down the hill, we had lunch there and then we went back to the refuge and lied down outside, were we stayed for the rest of the day, writing in our travel journals, reading books, looking at our pictures. Suddenly…


Ýrr and Anna

…four people came toward us and said ”Thanks for the wine”. We recognized them from two nights before, at Casa Marion in Parzan, were we had given them the rest of our wine. Half of the group Maribel and Ricardo were continuing and the other half Yakir and Idan were staying the night to catch a bus the next morning towards Madrid. We had some chat and said goodbye to Maribel and Ricardo.


Yakir and Idan

We had a great afternoon and evening together with Yakir and Idan, two nice fellows from Israel. We talked, ate dinner and looked at the sunset.  Since it was Saturday and the refuge was fully booked Yakir and Idan didn’t get any beds, they slept outside under the stars. We got two beds in a small simple uninsulated  house outside the refuge along with some other people. We didn’t mind and we slept well.


The window in our ”alternative” refuge


Day 13

Jesolo – Venice

We woke up and made some breakfast outside the tent before we packed our stuff and went to the ferry that took us to Venice. We were not able to walk further!


Venice from the ferry

We arrived in Venice at eleven o’clock.


Ýrr and Anna in Venice

Now we had three days to look at the Venice Art Biennale… but that is another story!


The Pyrenees 2010: Day 9

Refugio Viados – St Jaime

We got up early and ate some breakfast at the refuge, it was sweet as usual at the refuges, but there was a lot of different things like muffins, jam and croissant that we could bring with us and eat as snack on our way. We said goodbye to our new friends and started our walk at eight a clock. We started by walking down in the valley below the refuge and followed a mountain crest up in into a new valley. We climbed upwards for about an hour.


When we came up a new view opened up for us, barren and stony. To begin with it was very steep and there was some snow, we had to take the down descent carefully.


A bit further down it was greener and we sat down and had something to eat. Some dried bread and canned sardines which were a bit to spicy. We continued further down and there was a great variety of flowers, especially orchids and Iris.


We past by a Refuge Estos and had a lemonade. We talked to a Danish couple for a while. They had climbed the highest mountain of the Pyrenees, Anesto. We said goodbye  and continued further down. The landscape wasn’t as exciting as before and in the end we had to follow a small road.


We came down to a bigger road with two campsites, we chose the smaller one, it seemed ok. We put up our tent and went shopping for food in the other camping. We where glad we didn’t stay at that one as there was mostly permanent campers in huge caravans.


Back at our camping we sat down to have some wine and some food at the restaurant. To our surprise we met Maribel and Ricardo, the Spanish  friends of  Yakir and Idan and to whom we had said goodbye to the day before. They made us company and we had a nice evening together, with red wine and delicious lamb.

We went to bed around nine a clock.

The Pyrenees 2010: Day 10

St Jaime – Refugio Venasque

We woke up and noticed we had been visited by snails during the night, we could follow the snail trails all over our tent, they had also been around in our shoos. Not so pleasant and difficult to clean.

We sat down at the café and had our own breakfast. Said good bye to our friends. They where continuing to follow the GR11 but we were heading north and up the mountain via the Port de Venasque to cross the border back to France.


El Aneto, 3404 metre

As we don’t like walking on a road we had decided to take the bus up to La Besurta and start from there. For some reason we didn’t fill up any water, we had an idea that it would be possible at La Besurta. But unfortunately it wasn’t and we soon realized that we couldn’t walk up the steep mountain without any water. So we had to take some water from a small stream in the cow field and use our Micropur tablets to disinfects clear water and destroys bacteria, amoebas and viruses to make it drinkable (you just have to wait 30 minutes for it to work).

When the water was ready we started our climb up towards France. We were surrounded by beautiful surroundings with high mountains everywhere; in our back we had an overview of the highest mountain in the Pyrenees, El Aneto, 3404 metre.


The area was filled with cows and we heard the sound of cow-clocks everywhere. A really nice and common sound in the Pyrenees, both cows and ships wear clocks around their necks .

We came up to the Port de Venasque (2444 m), a narrow portal in the mountain to cross the border.


Leaving Spain felt a bit sad but it was also nice to come back to France again. The two countries differ quite a bit from each other. The Spanish side of the Pyrenees is more dramatic and bare and France is more green and soft.


We climbed down towards some lakes. At one of the lakes a small and nice Gite was placed, Refuge de Venasque. We decided to stay there for the night. We raised our tent and had a lovely and lazy afternoon in the sun by the lake. Anna made some repairmen on Ýrrs back-pack and Ýrr read a book.

At 7 pm the dinner was served. The best food we had on this hike, potato soup, pasta with duck, cheese and chocolate cake. After dinner there was a woman who had a lecture about the birds of prey that can be seen in the Pyrenees. Unfortunately it was in French but we did understand some, she was very pedagogic in showing images of birds in relation to human size, to show us how big some of them can be. As an example of birds we had seen several times through our hike is the The Griffon Vultures with a wingspan of around two and a half meters and the Lammergeier with a wingspan of up to 2.8 metres. These huge birds are quite powerful to see flying over your head, sometimes so close that you hear them gliding in the air.


After a while we gave up the lecture and took a evening walk and admired the fantastic view before heading back to the tent to sleep.

(This was one of the nights that you didn’t really mind waking up in the middle of the night because you have to take a pee. As the sky was clear and you could see all the stars shining bright over the mountains. It is a kick and you feel privileged to be able to take part of this scenery you have before you.)


The Pyrenees 2010: Day 11

Refugio Venasque – Luchon

We woke up at 7 am, packed our stuff and sat down outside the refuge, bought a coffee and ate our own breakfast, bread and cheese.


Early morning view from the tent

We really enjoyed this wonderful place and this beautiful morning. But we had to keep moving. We started walking down the valley.


It was a little steep and we walked in zig zag.


The zig zag track down the valley.

After about 1,5 h we came down to a road and a parking lot.


Looking back

Our plan was to hitchhike from here, but there were no cars going in our direction. We walked on a asphalt road for about an hour before we met a family outside their house that offered us a lift, we squeezed us into the backseat together with the two teenage daughters and drove some more km to Luchon.

We came to Luchon just some minutes after the Tour de France bikers left the place. It was like arriving to a party that was over.


After the Tour de France party

We found a hotel, ate lunch at a café by the square and had a glass of Sangria. We walked around in the village for hours, we were a little bored. It’s hard to come to a big village after days up in the mountains.  We had dinner at the hotel restaurant. After dinner we visited the church, inside there were three sporty dressed men warming up for the concert later in the evening. They sang nice and we’d listen for a while before we went back to our hotel room, we did some reading before we fell asleep.



The Pyrenees GR 10

The trail GR 10 runs between Hendaye by the Atlantic ocean and Banyuls-sur-Mer by the Mediterranean ocean on the French side of the Pyrenees. It is divided into three sections the west, the middle and the east.  It takes about five weeks to walk the entire length.  You can choose to  walk only a section depending on how much time you have and what part you are interested in. We decided to start at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. A lot of people start their walk from there but most of them are on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain , making the famous pilgrimage. But we walked in the other direction, following GR10 going west. It was beautiful and alternating. We found it difficult and were always really tired in the evenings, but this was our first longer hike in the mountains and we didn’t really know what to expect.  I don’t think we would find this as difficult today.

This part of the GR10 is not really touristic, we didn’t really meet tourists other than the ones that were doing the GR10. There is a gite (cottage) in the end of every stage were you can sleep. You can also sleep in a tent near the gite but it is also permitted to set up a tent in the wilderness. It’s possible to have dinner in the gites, then everybody eats the same food together. The food was really tasty most of the time and it can be a nice social thing to do sometimes. Often there is a kitchen in the gite if you prefer to cook your own food.  If you put your tent outside the gite you pay less but you can still use the facilities. Some nights you spend in small villages where you can buy some food in a store. At some gites you could buy some food like bread, pasta and gas for your stove.

We didn’t find the breakfast at the gites appealing, most of the time it was only bread and jam, we made our own breakfast most of the time. You can always buy coffee at the gites, but the quality wasn´t always good. The wine, on the other hand, always tasted good. We really loved  the farm houses we passed quite often on this trip where you can buy cheese.



Water was never a problem, there was fresh water everywhere in the gites and we often passed small streams while hiking.



The guidebook we used was Trekking in the Pyrenees

by Douglas Streatfield-James from Trailblazer, we really liked it and we can really recommend it, you find everything you need to know in this book written in a personal way.

More about this trip will soon be out!


The Pyrenees 2010: Day 12

Luchon – Granges D’Astau

We woke up early, eager to leave this touristic village and to get higher up in the mountains again. We ran to the supermarket and bought some food and had breakfast in our room. It was cloudy and we didn’t see the mountains. We had a long day ahead with 2000 m of climbing to start with. According to the guidebook the first 1200m of the climbing was on a road and it was boring and tiering and there was a cabin lift. We decided to take the lift. Anna had never taken a cabin lift before and she was quite nervous. The lift was supposed to open at 9.30 am but something was wrong and we had to wait for more than an hour before it was fixed.


The cabin in the clouds

The lift took us to a small ugly ski resort but the view was fantastic, we were up above the clouds looking at the tops of the mountains and the clouds were resting in the valley. It was like magic!


Above the clouds

We started climbing and we had some walking up and down. Before the last climbing we had lunch. Filled with new energy we went to the top. We started to walk down in zig zag through the steepest part. We walked in a green valley filled with flowers and some trees. It started to rain a little in the afternoon and it started to get foggy, we came to a lake and we could hardly discern it because of the fog. There was an auberge where we stopped for a soda. The fog was atmospheric.


A small house in the fog

We walked really fast the last hour, the weather was getting worse and we just made it to the gite before it started to rain really bad. We got our own little room with a shower. There was a kitchen in this gite and we cooked vegetables with coconut milk and bulgur. We even made dessert strawberry and rhubarb compote. After dinner we went inside the bar/restaurant and sat down in a sofa by a fireplace and bought a glass of wine. Very cozy evening and the guy that worked at the gite didn’t just make sure we got the best seats he also lent us a lap top and gave us a plate with different sausages and cheese.


We said good night around ten o’clock.




The Pyrenees 2010: Day 13

Granges D’Astau – Germ

We woke up to a gray rainy day with some thunder. At first we decided not to walk but two French guys we talked to at breakfast made us change our minds. We confident each other that some rain wouldn’t hurt.

We started by walking upwards through a forest, it didn’t rain so much and we were protected by the trees. But shorty after we came out of the forest it started to rain really heavily. After a while we where soaking wet down to our boots. It was like walking in water.


Anna in the rain

We came to a valley, we couldn’t see much because of the fog. It started to thunder and we felt like we were caught in a thunder cloud. It didn’t feel like the best place to be at the moment. There was nowhere to hide from the rain or the thunder; we stopped by a big stone that was at least a little bit higher than us, it wasn’t much of a shelter but we waited for the thunder to move on.  After a while we continued upwards.

When we came to the top, we almost stepped into a tent. We said hello but we got no answer (later we would meet the owner of the tent). We continued down the hill, the rain continued poring down.


Finally we came down to a small shelter where we met the two French guys from breakfast. They were surprised to see us as we had told them we were not walking in this rain. They seemed to regret their decision (who can blame them) and they where not in a good mood. We tried to keep up the spirit by making some jokes about the whole situation but we didn’t get much of a response.


Lunch together with two French guys.

We had some lunch and then we continued, because we were already wet there was no point waiting for the rain to stop. Outside of the shelter we met Arne, a Dutch guy. He was the owner of the tent we had passed by earlier. He had spent the night at the top and had stayed in his tent to wait for the rain to stop, but it didn’t. After he heard us passing by he decided to continue despite the rain. And now he hooked up with us and we continued walking together.

We continued down towards Germ, we got more and more wet and at some  moments it rained so heavily it felt like a waterfall.

We found a place to stay in the small village, Germ at a auberge. Luckily we got a big room with some radiators, we could dry our clothes’ but most importantly our shoos.


Our soaking wet boots

Down in the restaurant we met Arne again and we had dinner together. He had been hiking in the Pyrenees for several years and came back every year. We had a nice evening. As usual we went to bed at 10 pm.


Ýrr and Arne in the restaurant.


Collection of some flowers we saw in the Pyrenees 2010

If anyone know which one, I would be happy to know.




Lilium martagon
–  Lupinus polyphyllus, (SE: Krollilja)
Rather common flower in the Pyrenees


Pyrenean Lily –
Lilium pyrenaicum (SE: Pyreneisk lilja)

This beauty and rare flower we didn’t manage to see on our first hike in the Pyrenees. We where very happy when we finally found it in Odessa the year after.


Large-flowered butterwort, Pinguicula grandiflora
Meat eating flower, look at the insects they are stucked on the sticky petals (Sorry for the bad image)


Astrantia major (SE: Stjärnflocka)

The Pyrenees 2010: Day 14

Day 14: Germ – Luz

Our clothes had dried during the night but the boots were still a bit wet. Outside it was still gray but it was not raining. Our plan was to go back to Cauterets, from where we’d started. We had been thinking of the the nice Scarpa shoes we had seen in the store the morning we started our walk. We had to many stages to do and to little time to make it all the way to Cauterets – we decided to hitchhike one etap, to Luz. It seemed like a good day for that since it was foggy.


We ate some breakfast in the restaurant and packed our things. We took a little tour in the small sweet village. Bought some nice cheese from a farmer. We like cheese and had missed that in Spain as we rarely came by farmers who made and sold cheese there.

We started to walk down to a little bigger town, Laudenville. We bought some more food. We started to hitchhike and got lift quite quickly by a couple. She could speak a little English and they where really nice. The took us to Arreau, a small town.


It turned out to be almost impossible to get a hike from here. Even though many cars (and bikes) past us on their way up to Col d´Aspin and Col du Tourmalet.

Finaly after changing a spot we got a lift with three pensioners. They took us to Col d´Aspin. Up there it started to get quite foggy so we didn’t see so much of the view. We soon got lift to Ste-Marie de Campan.


It was a small sweet village with a lot of bikers on their way to Col du Tourmalet, which is the highest point in the Tour the France. This day was the day after the tournament had passed the Col so you can imagine all the people who wanted to do the same.


We got lift by a really nice Dutch girl. She was a biker but had a resting day so she was following her biking boyfriend and dad with the car. She offered us a ride all the way to Luz but we had to accept that she would stop now and then to feed the two bikers with snacks and drinks.  That was fine with us. I gave us insight in the biker community.


The fog continued so we didn’t see much of the view at the top. A strange feeling.


A window at a house in Luz

In Luz we found a Gite and we ate some Paella at a Pizzeria. It was some kind of festival in the town with a lot of market stall and people walking around. We took a glass of wine at the Gite before we went to bed.


The Pyrenees 2010: Day 15

Luz – Cauterets

We woke up 6.30 wanting to get an early start. We had just one more stage before reaching Cauterets, our last destination. It felt a bit sad. But it felt good to close the circle. Our idea was  to get back to the nice hiking store in Cauterets and try out the shoes we still couldn’t forget.

Unfortunately we got delayed because we didn’t find our way out of the village, a supposed short cut was a dead end and we had to turn back.

We past some nice villages. Both of them had Gites that would probably be nicer to stay at than in Luz, not that it was bad but staying in a smaller village higher up in the mountains is hard to beat.

We stopped at a café for a ice-cream and rested shortly to get a picture of our back backs together with the matching chairs.


Our backpacks taking a rest at a camping



The first part of the trail was really nice. The narrow old paths, surrounded by threes, like tunnels, reminded us of the year before hiking here in the Pyrenees. (you will soon be able to read more at this site about that hike). This special paths are quite typical for some parts of the Pyrenees.


After a while we came out of the ”tunnel” and the landscape was more open and soft shaped.


We came up to a ski resort, apart from the ski lift and the parking place, it was a nice place.


We continued upwards and we had the feeling, even though it was hard, we never wanted the climb to end as this was our last climb of this trip.


When we almost had reached the top it started to get foggy, we lost the nice view and we where not able to see anything from the top.


Standing at the last top of this trip

The first part of the down climb was really nice with a wide zig-zag trail. But after a while we came in to a rather boring wood and in the end we had to follow a smaller road. We speeded up as our plan was to make it to Cauterets before the stores closed.


Cauterets from above

We made it in time to the shop, we were both very happy and soon also happy owner of some really nice, cool shoes and good walking shoos when walking in the city.


Yrr’s (green) and Anna’s (turquoise) Scarpa shoes

We found a nice gite that had a big kitchen we could use. We put almost all the vegetables we had left to soak and went out to buy some wine and pasta. We made a super nice dinner. We sat outside in the garden for a while.  Before we went to bed we talked to our room mates, two French guys that were doing the whole GR10 .


The Pyrenees 2010: Day 16

Cauterets- Pau

We had a bus to catch at 7.20 am. The village was full of people dressed in running cloths about to do the Pyrenee Marathon.


Anna and the marathon runners

We took the bus to Lords and a train from there to Pau. We spent the day in Pau walking around and resting in different parks. It happen to be Sunday and everything was closed.


The palace of Henry IV in Pau

Our friends (that we were about to visit) Christine and Ryan were out of town but they came back early in the evening and picked us up. We had a wonderful dinner together in their back yard. What a lovely end of a great adventure!


Delicious dinner with lovely friends in Pau.

We slept in the guest room, and our friends took us to the station the next morning. We took the train to Toulouse and from their the airplane… home sweet home…