Friday 12 July 2024

GR 11 Day 38 Nuria to Refugi d'Ulldeter

12th July

The weather forecast was giving thunderstorms for the afternoon so I thought I would try to get over the hills before they started and then stop early for a dry afternoon at the Refugi.

Morning calf
There was a thunderstorm last night and maybe it had arrived early although storms were still forecast for the afternoon.
A fine start to the day
I set off climbing the valley behind Nuria in sunshine but clouds soon appeared.

Starting to cloud over
There were views back to Nuria most of the way up. The hills have a Scottish feel to them, except for the height, and the weather was similar with a strong cold wind and the occasional view through the cloud, very nice!
Looking down to Nuria
The section of the ridge that I walked was fantastic, I must come back and do a bit more high-level walking in this area.
The high ridge
After a few interesting bumps along the ridge all too soon the path was winding it's way down out of the wind.
View towards France from the ridge
There was a short climb up to the last 
coll of the day, at 2520 meters it would have been high but after the highest point of the day, and the whole GR 11, at the Coll de Tirapits (2780 meters) it felt quite low.
Up to the last coll 
A gentle descent to the Refugi, past a fine bull and some ski paraphernalia and it never rained although the cloud remained low, well it seemed low but the Refugi is at 2220 meters.
Bull and cows
Refugi d'Ulldeter 
It started raining at 16.30
View from the dormitory window before the rain 

Thursday 11 July 2024

GR 11 Day 37. Camping Can Fosses to Nuria

11th July

The forecast was for another hot day so I made the effort and was away by 06.30, still warm, tee shirt only as I climbed the hill in the shade.

Up through the trees 
Another grassy coll this time with a gravel track to it, restricted vehicle access, before descending to contour round the hill above Queralbs.
Descending from the first coll 
I decided to take the GR 11-8 variation as it would be cooler than descending to Queralbs and walking up through the gorge.
View from the high path
There were some fantastic views down into the gorge and probably just as much climbing as the gorge route.
Cows on the high pasture
There is an amazing gravel road that zigzags up from Queralbs to a high carpark that I passed.
Gravel road zigzagging up the hill
The path continued past a spring where a whole river appears from the side of the hill and then climbs some more before the descent to Nuria.
Spring on the hillside

Looking down the Nuria gorge
Nuria is a holiday complex only accessible by rack railway, or foot, and was full of people. I had booked a room here or as it had started to cloud over I may have considered going on.
Approaching Nuria
After the last train left it was more like a ghost town.
The Nuria complex
Probably better to stay for a rest before tackling the highest point of the route tomorrow.

GR 11 Day 36 Camping Pirineus to Camping Can Fosses (Planoles)

10th July

A bright warm start to the day that only got hotter. It felt slightly better when the breeze picked up and I got some shelter from the trees but the temperature was still 28° at 19.30.

Road to Puigcerda 
The temperature today wasn't helped by the length of the day, 28 km + 1200 meters ascent/ descent, and that the highest point was 'only' 2000 meters.
Fiat 600 at an industrial unit, haven't seen one for years!
The day started with a walk down the road to Puigcerda, a big place which I walked round the edge of, lots of small industry.
Looking back to Puigcerda 
I thought I might get something in Burger King but it was shut, so I continued up the road to Age. The heat even at this time of the morning was enough to make me feel my age!
A steady climb through trees and I arrived at the first coll, a clear grassy area, very different to the alpine type passes of the last sections.
Coll Marcer
Down and up again to the next grassy pass following the French border, unfortunately there was no sign of a Frenchman to taunt.
Border stone 
The path continued, contouring the side of the valley, above the road that snaked about below.
Pyrenean roads
Eventually arrived at Camping con fosses to a welcome shower and a nice shaded pitch.
The beer was very welcome.
El Tejido helping with the beer

Wednesday 10 July 2024

GR 11 Day 35 Riu de Vallcivera to Camping Pirineus

 9th July

A different sort of day today,  first it started downhill for a change after a good night's sleep, there were a few drops of rain overnight but the day was dry.

Morning view
As I started the climb on the other side, it wasn't that different! it clouded over and the wind picked up.
A group building a bridge 
By the time I reached the Portella d'Engorgs, 2680 meters, and sat down for a breather with Sebastian, a German GR11 hiker who had passed me on the way up, it was definitely Scottish weather. sheltering behind a boulder and only stopping until you couldn't feel your fingers.
Looking back to the pass
There was a small snow wreath to negotiate, I bypassed it on some steep scree, otherwise no sign of snow.
A straightforward descent followed by a path that contoured round to the Refugi de Malniu.
Looking back to the Refugi
I had planned to stop at the campsite here but it was far too early and the weather was good, the sun had come out and the wind eased, so I decided to carry on down to Camping Pirineus.
The way down, note lack of shade.
It was nearly all downhill but the lower I went the hotter it got until at the campsite it was 26°, I was glad to stop!
Church at Guils de Cerdanya
Another good campsite. I was tempted by the swimming pool but by the time I had showered, sorted the tent etc it was too late.
El Tejido checking the site before leaving.
Temperature still 22° at 21.20.

Tuesday 9 July 2024

GR11 Day 34. Encamp to Riu de Vallcivera

8th July.

Not too hot today, in the afternoon it turned cloudy and there was a good breeze.

It was what has become a 'normal' start to the day, climbing steeply away from the town in the woods.
Escaping 'civilization'
It was quite a long time before the sound of traffic and construction work was left behind.
All abilities tourist trail 
The GR11 uses some tourist trails here and it was good to be walking on a smooth level track until it turned up through the trees again.
Terraced field
It's difficult to take interesting pictures in the trees but it was a very pleasant walk which turned up the Riu Madriu valley and followed it to the top.
Near the top of the Riu Madriu 
Almost at the top is the Refugio de I'Illa, very smart and modern, it only opened in 2017.
Refugio de I'Illa
I called in for a drink and a bit of cake before heading up to the dam and over the Coll de Vall Civera (2550 meters) and steeply down the other side to find somewhere to put the tent.

The Andoran Spanish border 
Loads of cows on this side, Spain again, and the bells sound like several village churches competing.

Sunday 7 July 2024

GR11 Day 33 la Cortinada to Encamp

7th July

It poured with rain all night only stopping in the early morning. A good day for walking as it only warmed up slowly and there was a nice breeze.

La Cortinada in the rain 
It never fails to amaze me how fast everything dries as soon as the sun appears, humidity going from 100% in the morning to 28% by the time I got to Encamp.
Steaming woods
Not a lot to report today, the now normal climb up through trees in the morning, this time cutting directly up near a switchback road which the path met on a couple of occasions.
Looking down to la Cortinada 
Over the top, where the path again joins the road, there were a lot of cars parked and a good grassy area that descended slowly into the trees again.
The top

Picnic area where the path meets the road
The path got steeper the further down the hill I went with a steep rocky section before reaching the outskirts of Encamp.
I was intending to camp at Camping Internacional in the town but when I googled it to find out exactly where it was I discovered that it was closed. I subsequently learnt that they are building a stadium there instead.

Sant Roma de Les Bons, consecrated 1164
It wasn't hard to find a reasonably priced room instead and I stocked up at the big supermarket as well, the only thing I couldn't find was the nice tubes of condensed milk.