Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pyrenees Day 13: Parzan -> Camping Forcallo

Well, they can't all be great days.

After a reasonable breakfast at the hotel (they toasted the stale baguette instead of serving it "raw" and had some parrano ham available as well), we are out by 8:30. We walk up the road to the GR11 and then start climbing for real along a dirt and gravel road. The whole morning is on the road, which isn't particularly nice. For the first hour we go super fast (well, super fast for us... we're basically reproducing the times in TiP, which we have never done) and make about 600m. We're racing to get as much of the day's climbing done as possible before the sun hits us. When the sun does make an appearance we quickly discover that running uphill with freshly filled and stocked packs is a bad idea (of course we knew this already, but we had temporarily forgotten). We have a long rest above the dam and hydroplant at Urdizeto (1940m). It's good to have gotten about 900m of the day's 1600m of climbing done, but we definitely went too fast.

We proceed at our normal (much slower) pace to the Paso de los Caballos (2314m, 1:00) where we have lunch. The views from the col are excellent and include our first view of the Posets massif, which we remark for being amazingly gray and featureless after all the layers and drip-castle shapes we've been seeing. We pick the correct lunch spot and don't end up sitting in the big party of Spaniards "around the corner"; that would have been loud. The two HRP hikers we met at Barroude (who had also gone to Parzan and are on their way to Viados) aren't so lucky.

The next two hours are mostly downhill on trails and include nice views of a green valley with creepy red "bleeding" spots on the walls. As we get into the valley we cross one of these; it's probably some water running through a vein of some iron oxide, but it sure does look like blood. All the streams in the valley are red, so we opt not to get any drinking water here.

We continue on for a while with pretty constant and not particularly interesting views (the only thing really visible is Posets, but that's still gray and mostly featureless) and eventually hit a road.
After another break we continue along the road, which we'll follow for the rest of the day (another two hours). It's just too long. We're tired, our packs are heavy, the sun is hot, there aren't enough breath-taking views to restore our motivation.
To be fair, we do get a brief (but nice) view down the Valle de Chistau.

Eventually we make it to the the campground (~1600m, 5:30), where we find that the building is shuttered. Crap! No beer! No showers! No beer! Crap! Luckily there's no gate or fence or "keep out" sign, so we just go in and find a nice spot with a good view of Posets (which is fascinating to look at when you get close enough), have a cup of tea, rest a bit, sponge baths, make dinner, watch sunset via the color changes on Posets (fantastic!), and then retire to the tent for the night.

We kind of expect someone to show up at some point and ask for 4 euros (or something) to use the campground, but that never happens.

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