The highlight of Ed's and my recent trip to Spain was hiking in the Pyrenees which we in fact decided to do at the last minute after Condor was hauled on September 2nd due to hurricane warnings for Earl. With the boat high and dry and no tickets yet for the conference in Perpignan where Ed was to give a paper, we decided to go 5 days early and drive from Barcelona to Perpignan via Torla and Espot.
|"Old Man", upper left|
|Cola del Caballo|
From there we followed the Faja de Pelay (mostly level or downhill) to the Circo de Soaso and the Cola del Caballo (Horsetail) waterfall. We returned by the path along the valley floor passing several other waterfalls before being caught in a drenching rain storm which continued the last half hour of our 12 km hike. By the next morning the weather had improved and we hiked up to the waterfalls we had missed in our run in the rain. We stayed at the Hotel Abetos in a room with a beautiful view toward the mountain and ate both nights at El Duende (good regional food) as the town is small with not a lot of interesting options.
|Looking up Circo de Soaso|
|Falls in the Valley|
ESPOT: On Saturday afternoon we drove through several mountain passes, one in thick fog to Espot. The Hotel Surat where we stayed, the original hotel in Espot, shows it age. Our room was clean and had a view of the mountains but the large dining room was used only for breakfast (most likely still open in season). Tired, we opted for pizza in their crowded grill. The following morning we took a jeep taxi (leaves from the center of town as soon as it is filled with 6 passengers) to Estany de Sant Maurici (part of Parc Nacional D'Aiguestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici). From here we headed up the trail to Port de Ratera d' Espot. We followed the directions downloaded from the Lonely Planet. Jeep tours go to the first part of the trail and continue around the lake so this part of the trail is wide, easy and crowded until the fork soon after Estany de Ratera. Here we took the right fork and hiking became steeper and rockier. If Ordesa is a hike of waterfalls, this is certainly a hike of lakes; an occasional waterfall but well over a dozen beautiful blue lakes. We continued across some rocky scree to Refugi d'Amitges then to Port de Ratera d' Espot where we ate lunch. Returning, we took the right hand forks so repeated little of the first part of the 14.5 km hike. For dinner we tried Hotel Roya which had a very good regional menu. Ed had an excellent Andalusian gazpacho and I had my first taste of salt cod with tomatoes (served cold as an entree) which was very good both entrees followed by lamb.
|Port de Ratera d'Espot|
|photo © 2010 Edward C. Kern, Jr.|