Saturday, 10 October 2015

A Pyrenean Perigrination Part Three

 Onward and upwards; the path rises steadily; climbing the steep sided limestone gorge towards the Embalse de Respumoso.

There are a lot of landslips, that have brought down prodigious quantities of trees, and the fencing contractor seems to have been economising on concrete, but it's all perfectly safe I'm sure...

Wise of them all the same. to advise against relying upon their handiwork.

"Look I've found you a waterfall"

Excellent news, the down jacket had come off some miles back, and this seemed like an ideal place to freshen up. So off with a few more Items. I'm not a big fan of sweaty plastic baselayers for Summer walking. I find a vest with a loose shirt over the top far more comfy. It also gives access (as does a skirt) to certain areas for washing etc, if, one is not so relaxed about disrobing.

 Though to be honest there is not much chance of my offending, much less 'taking someones eye out' with my endowment....

I do wonder however if the smaller numbers of women to be found in the hills might be due, at least in part, to having to deal with certain feminine practicalities not encountered by the men.

A friend had to leave a National Park in which she was trekking in Canada, because of a heavy period, there was a very real concern that it might attract the attention of resident bears.

I can hear the uncomfortable foot shuffling of some male readers now, but if problems aren't acknowledged, how can they be resolved?

Mid morning snackage, tomatoes, bread and sheeps' cheese

Tree roots across the path, giving and getting a grip

Approaching the dam.

A very neat shaped peak far distant, named?.....Well that would depend on which map you're using

I have a bit of a thing about wiggly tin (some folks will call it corrugated iron) but it isn't any more iron than tin. This tiny dam side chapel is roofed with it, I pay my respects.

Appreciating the geology

Crossing the dam wall; dead centre; even a well built height can induce the wobbles at times...

Reservoir resistable for swimming, it looks a tad chilly even in the sunshine

satisfying saw tooth skyline

 The terrain is as on the map, the path marking however makes OH appreciate the good old OS


There's supposed to be a lake up here,
 After a series of false promises, over this rise? Nope..Here? Maybe...

Huzzah! OH has found the lake...Well done.

And sets about preparing lunch, skowel doing triple duty as a picnic cloth.

Please don't make me eat any of those sausages....Pico de Llena Cantal behind.........Adho Mukha Virasana to the fore.

Adho Mukha Svanasana  yes 'Dog Pose' but I still don't want any sausages....

Advanced 'indicating peaks skills' Parsvakonasana ... Now Yoga isn't supposed to be a substitute for chiropractic work; on the whole it obviates the need. But I did get some lovely spinal clunks after a day or two of not doing it. How do folks cope without?

A trip like this takes a lot of planning.... No not the route silly, (we worked out the first few days of that on the train down, and then made up the rest as we went along.)
I mean co ordinating nail polish with shorts...Colour was applied by second born son, just as well they're quite far away, as he doesn't believe in all that tedious stuff about not going over the lines.
 He's still more expert at applying make up than me though...

Rocking the 'farmer - tan' look too.

It would be grand to linger longer but there's this infernal infierno pass to be tackled. The afternoons weather is looking better than was predicted, the guide book says don't do it in poor visibility, but conditions look does OH here.

Izards relatives of the Chamois, we agreed it could be a useful scrabble word.

Oh no! chopped off the peaks...distracted by the gaiters...their azure allure eclipsing the lakes' charms

Lift the breast bone, shoulders back and down...Going to need all the lung capacity available....for yodelling
(not really)

Making our way across the scree

It's either peaks or gaiters you can't have both....

Probs' best for everyones' sake that skirt was exchanged for shorts

How did you get up there? A bit scrambly, and made more of a challenge by pack, 

But as is so often the case, effort is rewarded.

The not so scary col, followed by a short but steep clamber down other side

Path towards the glacier

Once again, distracted from landscape features by the footwear....I have form here.... the only time I've ever properly knocked myself unconscious was an abrupt encounter with a lamp post whilst absorbed in admiring my shiny new shoes on the way to primary school, deeply embarrassing, even though no one saw....   

Binoculars only to be used here, sadly we had none...

Making our way down to....

Pitch 6.  at Ibon Azal Alto
13km. 1650 m ascent
Testing the levels with Sirsasana, 5 mins a day refreshes the brain, or fills it with nonsense, depends on your viewpoint.

James the Kiwi, hoping to reach the East Coast (of where?) by the end of September. but taped up shoes, one wooden staff, and carrying what looked like a wardrobe on his back made his goal seem unlikely; if laudably optimistic.
Charmingly chatty, perhaps because he was 'getting by' with key phrases inputted onto google translate...

Why would you not want to camp here?


But would you share a tent, albeit a well erected one, with this man?
I still don't want any cheesey sausages, thanks..

Will very rarely refuse a cup of tea though

Oh no, what happened? Those of you who want to know can ask later...

There was heavy rain over night, but no tent leakage.  And thankfully the morn was dry, if cloudy. 

Must have been cold too, merino leggings under trews.

Descending through the boulder fields, blue plastic gloves (usually for veg packing) keep off the chill wind

Good exposures, but hazy

Heading down rocky valley towards Banos de Panticosa

A lot of down, knees thankful of poles

All it needs is a blue sky

Waterfalls, like bubble wrap, beg to be snapped, but the results can be disappointing..

Exclusive spa resort of Banos de Panticosa.... "Prepare to have your tone thoroughly lowered"

What happened to the roof?

Classy lunch bag again; and sausages proffered. Lowering the tone as promised.

Precipitation commenced, so rain skirt emerged, I made this as alternative to nasty waterproof trews, have to wear them horrible things enough for work.
 Skirts also say 'holiday' to me.  Now; a pink rain skirt? There's an idea....

Ascending into the clouds

'Larks' ascending....Just 40 mins after leaving the spa town,...It can surprise how high you can get just putting one foot in front of t'other....We were quicker than 'guide' times going up; slower (my fault) going down.

Encountered a Mallorcan, and a resident of Madrid here and made them take a 'having fun on our hols' pic.
 I did request in bad Spanish that they emphasise the footwear, not sure they got it....maybe not enough rrr's rolling?

I try out a bit of pointing; to where the pass is supposed to's not as easy as it looks...

Beyond the pass

Boulder fields are slowish; (me) mesmerising work. After a days intensely concentrated carrot weeding I usually get the leaves image behind my eyelids at night. This night it was boulders...

Guarded by a cows skull, but it will take worse than that to ward us off a flat spot

Pitch 7.Barraco de los Batans,

after 13km 1050 m ascent

He's really getting into this eye catching extremities thing....We just need to work on the rather staid titfer...

Feet a bit tired after all those boulders. instead of taking full length trews, I found some rather stylish (I thought) knee-high purple polka dot merino cycling socks to bridge the gap, they're fully pulled up pictured elsewhere (pay per view)  

We're reaching the well oiled machine stage in the pitching game where we can both get it up without any faffing.

Vignemale lowering in the background...
He really does love this.....

Ooo ooo another tent shot. You may find this hard to conceive dear general reader but there may be a few looking at the tent pictures more intensely than anything else......I know...But; each to their own.

Go on ...Indulge....Just one more...

Spiky stuff on the back of Vignemale

Teeny tiny tent dwarfed by the landscape; this is what its all about; getting a sense of proportion.

Witchcraft tamed by laundry....

Off into the geology again

OH communing with 5948

Their bells are large and loud

High tech weather station next to 'out of place' boulder. Glacier shifted one presumes..

Fuzzy marmot shot# 17....You had to be there...

If I have to explain....You're not going to understand.....It either gives you the wiggles; or it doesn't..

Possibly fatal consequences of eating more than your fair share of crisps...

Epic paint fail....but emphasises the wiggles nicely...

What a feat of engineering!

Along the riverside towards Torla, this tree really was growing at this angle 

Marichyasana great for undoing the upper back after carrying a pack...

Just showing off now....Dwi Hasta Bhujasana...Stops your bottom getting wet at riverside picnic spots

Olives on alfalfa on cracker on lichen (No; I don't eat reindeer food!)
I'm afraid I am the kind of chlorophyll crazed loon who will port nigh on 2kg of fresh kale up Fleetwith Pike in the Lake District to foist on the innocent incumbents of Black Sail Hostel....So it shouldn't come as a great surprise to discover that I took alfalfa seeds to sprout along the way....A little zip lock bag, a daily rinse, fresh salad in three days...

Characterful bridge towards Refuge Bujaruello

Four coffees excessive? After three days without? I think knot..

Keen to get to Torla for shopping and hot showers

So we resort to cheating, used to travel this way a lot as a youngster ...Two girls is speediest

We don't have to wait long; but once ensconced within the car of a friendly but bemused Spanish couple we realise just how much those long awaited hot showers really are needed. Arms firmly clamped to sides for the few scenic kilometeres...
I am also instructed in how to pronounce GR'11 properly.... Lots of rrrr's rolling...Tricky when seated.

Torla, at the mouth of the famous Ordesa Gorge, cloudy but still stunning.

No I have no information neither

This restaurant was recommended most fulsomely by Lisa and Reid a couple from Santa Barbara who we met at our coffee stop earlier...So I make a booking; not taking any chances this time...

Pitch 8 and 9 Camping Ordessa, a little R&R called for. Dinner out, hot showers, and fresh supplies..

after 20km and only 200m ascent (slackers) but coming downhill can be hard work too...

view from the tent....not too bad

We make use of the liberal hot water at the campsite, then just as we are having a pre dinner loll about. The heavens open; there is thunder! And lightening! And gusting winds!.... But our trusty Trekker Tent stands firm...

I thought we were just hanging out in the tent whilst the weather got itself sorted.......

But apparently we were "Sitting out a storm"  made me feel quite rugged....

So; will our intrepid trekkers make the 900m journey into town for their 7.30 table?

Or will they be beaten back by the ferocious tempest?

Spoiler alert.......

Go on then...

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