Tue, 31 Aug 2010

De mar a mar, hiking across the Pyrenees

Two weeks ago, Maria and I completed one of our dreams when we arrived in Cap de Creus, where the Pyrenean range sinks in the Mediterranean. To get there, we walked hundreds of kilometres during a month, crossed dozens of steep valleys and enjoyed one of the richest experiences of our lives.

We managed to complete this challenge without facing major problems or pains, and after the first five our six days, our legs seemed to have gotten used to the daily effort and it started to be easier and easier. Our morale kept growing as days passed and we advanced east. When I started walking on a cold and rainy morning in Hondarribia, after barely no rest in the night bus to Irún, I thought for myself that it was improbable that we'd manage to get anywhere near Catalunya, that one of us would get injuried way before, or we'd just give up and go for the easy beach vacation in the Basque Country.

Biadós refuge, under Posets

But we didn't, and after a somewhat painful start, with our boots soaking wet during the stages that crossed the enchanting Selva de Irati which ended up with me getting the biggest blister I've ever seen, we started to walk farther every day, extending the stages when we felt strong after reaching their official end. When we crossed from Nafarroa to Aragonese territory, the mental wall that I had built over the toughest stages in our quest started to fall apart. Days later, we found ourselves climbing down to Pineta, leaving Ordesa behind and enjoying a feeling that our adventure could not go better. The weather had been perfect for over a week and our legs and back were strong to go all over the way to the sea.

Cañón de Añisclo, on our way to Pineta

When we finally saw that huge blue stain on the horizon, the day before getting to the last mark, we got really excited. We had made it, but as we walked towards the cape, happiness slowly got mixed with melancholy. An unforgettable adventure was about to end, and we didn't want to face our return to the city and our routines. It had been many days surrounded only by awesome landscapes, and living without watches, with only sunlight and weariness marking the time to get in our sleeping bags.

At the very last red and white mark of our journey

We've had plenty of time to meet great people. Starting with the Navarrian brothers we met in the early stage, which provided us with a good pace to follow while our leg muscles were still building up; or Kike and Ana, who drove from Pamplona to visit us during the first Aragonese stages (thanks for the supplies!). Tomàs and Roger, young hikers from Mataró, surprised us with their maturity and experience as mountaineers; we had the pleasure to join forces during four days, walking a really cool variant through the Infiernos and Collado del Letrero which avoided going through the ghost city of Panticosa. Roger and Tomàs, we really hope to meet you soon! Andreu, Manel, Ghandi and Gaŀla visited us at the Vall de Núria and were unlucky to suffer a frightening hail and thunder storm when they left our shelter on their way back to their car. Thanks! All of you have been a very special part of our experience!

This adventure through GR 11 has been incredibly positive for us for several reasons. We've learned a lot about ourselves and strengthened our relation, and now I know how powerful drive can be; to get somewhere, no matter how far, it's really easy if you just believe you can do it and desire to get there.

Maria and I are proud of what we've done, and no wonder we're looking for new challenges. An obvious one would be repeating this experience, going through the French side of the Pyrenees, but for now, the Corsican GR 20 seems the most appealing. We'll see, next summer!

Jealous! Those are some beautiful pictures. Congratulations to you two. I might one day come and get more details. This is something I really want to do too!

Nice pants! ;)

Posted by martin f. krafft at Wed Sep 1 07:20:02 2010

How does the Spanish GR11 compare to the French GR10?

Posted by Tor Lillqvist at Wed Sep 1 11:44:22 2010

Dammit, you are making me jealous.

One of these days I'll go walk the Bibbulmun track.

Posted by Paul Wise at Thu Sep 2 03:51:22 2010

martin, those pants were the best of my packing decisions. It's a cheap 6€ running stockings (?) from Decathlon, and they were really useful: they were the only pants I took with me; they were really light and comfortable, and Maria could have a nice view of my butt. :) They also came back in acceptable condition after a month of wearing them and going through a few rough moments.

Posted by Jordi at Thu Sep 2 12:25:07 2010

Awesome undertaking; the Pyreneese are a truly beautiful place that retains more of the wilderness feel than other European, tourist overrun, mountain ranges. Quite envious.

Posted by tf at Thu Sep 2 15:21:27 2010

Impressive, congratulation. I wish I could do that but have to find someone to motivate to do this with me.

Posted by Mike B at Thu Sep 2 17:09:49 2010

Tota una experiència.
Me n'alegre per vosaltres.
Una abraçada.

Posted by Raül Romero at Thu Sep 2 20:33:01 2010