Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pyrenees Day 16: Refuge du Portillon -> Lac d'Espingo + Lac d'Oo

We start the day by being the latest at breakfast, 7:30; things start early at this refuge! Most everyone else has gotten an early start for mountain climbing and/or a long HRP stage. We leave by 8:30 for the easy descent down to Espingo.

The way down is a pretty and very well laid out path. We take our sweet time and stretch the 1.5 hour walk so that it takes three hours to reach the Refuge d'Espingo (1967m, 11:30). We scout around the lakes for a while to find a good tent spot and finally find one on the Lac d'Espingo that looks clean and has a good view. It's also flat and out of the way. quite nice!

After pitching the tent, having lunch, and doing some laundry in the river we leave at 1:15 to walk down to Lac d'Oo. It's funny as hell to walk without packs on. On the way down, we pass some nice waterfalls and hordes of people sweating their way up the path.
We reach the refuge on the lake (1504m), have a cool beverage, and admire the big waterfall. We continue to be amused and surprised by the people in "civilian" clothes. Oh well, hope we don't smell too bad.

After a while we head back up to Espingo. We work hard at not running back up the hill (it's soooo easy without the packs on!). Along the way we pass many of the same people that we saw on our way down, only now they're coming down as we're going up. They haven't spent very much time up at Espingo... I guess they walked uphill for 3+ hours to spend less than an hour at their destination. "Der Weg ist das Ziel" and all that, but that's a bit much for me.

Along the stretch Lac d'Oo->the GR10 turnoff we finally manage to almost reproduce a walking time from TiP. Almost. Without packs. He must really run.

We get back to Espingo at around 4:00, have another cool beverage and watch as some shepherds gather the hundreds of sheep that have been scattered around the area and then drive them back down the path we just walked up. Good thing we're not on that path anymore!

Back at camp we have the soup course and a little rest in the sun. To our horror a group of eight people (three kids) shows up and makes camp within sight of us. We shudder and anticipate noise and chaos. After our nice rest we have a "use up as much as possible" dinner and then go for a walk along a random path near our side of the lake. This path leads us to the secret waterfall of Espingo! It's not super high (maybe 50m or so), but it has nice water volume and drops into a perfect looking pool. Too bad there's no apparent way to get down to that pool (cliffs all around). It's a very enticing pool.

We finish the day by enjoying the last sun colors on the valley walls and cursing the damn kids who are, of course, making loads of noise. Yes, we're old and fusty!

To be fair, the kids were put to bed at 9:00 and didn't make any noise after that.

We get up at 1:00 to do some stargazing. It's excellent.

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