Summer hiking in the Pyrenees (part 1)
This weekend I spent 2 days in the Pyrenees and did one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done.
I started in Vall de Nuria. This is high-altitude valley is a ski resort in winter. In summer, it's green and full of wild flowers.
It takes about 3 hours to get here from Barcelona - 2 hours on a regular train + 1 hour on a monorail "mountain train". I started at 7am and arrived at 10am.
It gets packed later in the day, so I wanted to come here early. Also, I had a big day of adventures ahead of me :)
I took some time to walk around the valley, enjoying the morning light. Then I got a coffee and lied on the grass by a small river.
Around 11:30, I decided it’s time to start hiking.
I had planned a big hike - it was going to take me though rocky trails, to remote places high in the mountain, and then down to the town of Ribes de Freser, where I had booked a hotel.
It started out well. The trail was easy to follow (or so I thought).
Soon the adventure started!
I was an hour into the hike, and the trail was still going uphill. That wasn't right. I checked my maps and asked some people. I realised I had taken the wrong turn, and ended up way higher, on the way to a mountain peak (which I didn't intend to climb).
Far below me, I could see a thin line - the trail I was originally supposed to take.
So I went off road, all the way down a very steep hill, to make it back to the original trail. This took about 45 minutes, and I got lots of scratches in my feet from various plants and rocks.
Finally, I made it back down to the original trail.
I followed this trail for the next 2-3 hours. The views were insane!
But also it was quite tiring, constantly going up and down over the rocks.
It was also quite extreme. I had to climb over rocks using my hands and feet, or hold to a rope while edging along a narrow path along a vertical cliff.
Still, it was one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done.
Also, I saw a mountain goat up close!
Finally, after lots of struggle, the rocky trail turned into a nice flat footpath, leading straight down to a mountain hut - Refugi Coma de Vaca.
I arrived at the hut just a bit before 5pm - 2 hours later than my original plan.
This hut is very remote, surrounded by nothing but wilderness. The only way to get here is hiking, like I did. I would love to sleep here sometime!
I went inside the hut. It's all made of wood on the inside, and very clean! I met the guy who worked there. I couldn't buy anything because I didn't have any cash. But they let me refill my water bottles, which was nice :)
After leaving the hut, I took some time to enjoy this place. It felt so raw, wild and powerful.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay long. It was past 5pm, and I had a long road ahead of me.
The trail took me up and away from the refuge.
Then it descended down into a beautiful pine forest.
After 2 hours, the trail turned into a flat, grassy dirt road, going through an oak forest now.
After another hour on this road, I started seeing houses in the distance. Back in civilisation! :)
Around 8pm, I reached Fustanya, a “village” of 2-3 houses :) I stopped here, and sat down at the stairs of old church to eat a snack and relax for a bit.
Again, I couldn't stay long. The sun was going down, so I had to hurry.
From here I took an asphalt road taking me down through more villages.
At 9:15pm, I arrived at Ribes de Freser!
It was just starting to get dark.
I was starving. I saw a crepe stand and immediately ordered a salty crepe with cheese and eggs. Perfect dinner :)
Then I walked to my hotel, checked in and passed out in the bed.