Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pyrenees Day 2: Oulettes de Gaube -> hillside above Barranco de Sandaruelo

The morning started out clearer but still drizzly. After a crappy breakfast we set out at 8:00 and headed up, up into the drizzle. There were thunderstorms behind us (to the SW) that were very scary, but they luckily never made it our way. We pass through the super windy Horquette d'Ossoue (2734m) and head down to the space-age looking Refuge Bayssellance (2651m, 10:30). It's planned to a be a long day, so we don't take much of a break here but press on along the crowded GR10. We head down, down, past many waterfalls and some nice views (including our first views of the Breche de Roland). It's good walking despite the overcast and drizzle.

After hitting the valley (Oulettes d'Ossoue, ~1840m) we have a lunch break (12:20-1:20) in the sun and then head up the valley to the dam at the end. Here there's a parking lot, so the place is pretty packed. At the dam we leave the GR10 for the HRP and head up , up, up into the Vallee de la Canau. We walk through this very pretty hanging valley, past the Cabane de Lourdes, to the end. Before climbing out we do a nice break (3:30-4:00) and then cross the Puerto de Bernatuero (2336m, 4:30) into Spain.

We descend a bit to the beautiful lake Ibon de Bernatuero. We'd love to camp here but the wind is strong an swirling around. Plus the one reasonable campsite (which already has a rock wall built around it) is pretty much on top of a dry stream bed; with the unstable weather this seems a stupid place to put a tent tonight.

Ibon de Bernatuero

We climb out of the bowl, where we expect to be able to pitch our tent in a cow pasture. No such luck: there are cows and there is pasture, but it's nothing like flat enough to pitch a tent. Plus it's still very windy.

It's now 5:00 and we're starting to wonder where we'll be sleeping (and, more importantly, eating!) for the night. We head down, down, along a poorly marked path (sporadic stonemen and footprints) looking for somewhere flat, sheltered, near water, and not covered in fresh cow poop. After some searching: three out of four ain't bad. We're exposed as all hell, but we've got the other criteria satisfied and a fabulous view. This may be the most ridiculous campsite ever for us: there's no shelter from the wind and the flat space is barely big enough to hold our tent, so we have to cook and eat a bit further down the hill at the next flat bit. Ah well, it's a great view.

We pitch the tent at 6:15 and have dinner at 7:00 (mashed potatoes, sausage, dried veggie mix, LINK). While eating dinner we admire El Tallon (or Pic du Taillon) as it makes clouds and, further South, the beginnings of the nice layered rock structures that we'll see more of in Ordesa.

Later we paid the price for the exposed campsite...
9:30 holy crap is it windy. I get up and check the tent stakes
10:30 Better check the stakes again. Wow, it's raining! Hard!
11:30 Last stake check of the night, everything is still fine. Oh! the wind! Oh! the rain!

We didn't sleep particularly well, but the tent performed flawlessly. Good tent! Andrea's backpack cover (from my old pack) isn't quite so worthy of praise... who the hell makes a backpack cover that's not 100% waterproof?

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