Monday, August 27, 2007

Pyrenees Day 4: Torla -> Refugio de Goriz

After a surprisingly nice breakfast at the hotel, we buy some bread (bad bread) for lunches for the next few days and then take the 9:15 bus up to the parking lot (1300m) in the Valle de Ordesa (the "Grand Canyon" of the Pyrenees). We partially justify this by saying we don't want to have to repeat the boring gravel road from the day before, but really we're just lazy. :-)

We start walking at 10:15 and immediately climb up, up, up to the Mirador de Calcilarruego (1945m, 11:45). This is along a very steep, but wonderfully shady path. We appreciate the shade a lot, which is good because it's a commodity that's in short supply later in the day. From the Mirador we, along with a ton of other people, have a great view out over the canyon.

At 12:15 we set back out and continue along the south side of the canyon for a couple hours. The views (including the Breche de Roland) are just amazing. Along the way we have a nice lunch (despite the bad bread). The afternoon is hot and shade is in short supply, so when we reach a little stream running down the canyon side it's cause for celebration, bathing, and water-bottle filling. We continue on to the Circo Soaso (1760m) and merge onto the autobahn leading to the waterfall at the head of the canyon. holy crap are there a lot of people down here! There were a lot up on the high path too, but this is nuts!

Thanks to some bad signage it takes us a while to find the path up and out of the canyon, but we eventually track it down and start climbing at 4:00. The first bit of the climb is quite steep and along a scree slope, so the little spring at the top led to another celebration. We continue on in the full afternoon sun. Wow is it hot... up... up... scrambling through rocks... wow! what a view!
hot! up! hot! where is than damn refuge? hot! up! hot! hot! hut! hut! We make Goriz (2195m) at around 6:15, find a place to pitch our tent, get cool beverages, and buy some wine for dinner. The refugio is crazy full (and high season is over); there are people and tents everywhere. The views are just spectacular.
During dinner (soup with dumplings, polenta with sausage, chocolate) we watch the herd of thousands of sheep on the Sierra Custodia graze and move around and make strange patterns.

Later we enjoy the view (full moon!) and do the day's diary by candlelight... this is camping! (and also the first real use of the candle lantern since we bought it five years ago).

The long bout in the afternoon sun made this feel like a very long day; but boy was it worth it.

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