Es reiche aber des dunkeln Lichtes voll, mir einer den duftenden Becher (Pyrenees 1996 – II)

Spending the night at a mountain lake is without comparison. Here we are at the Estany dels Monges at 2422m altitude, which was very cold, but we needed it. Walking around the lake in the evening and morning


The next two days brough disappointment: The area around Salardú had been heavily developed, to the extent that the GRP follows asphalted roads. Thankfully, heavy fog started to cover up all the ugliness.


Assuming that touristic development implies well marked paths was not a good idea. The plan was to reach the Col de Curios by day 7, which managed a day late, after losing the trail a couple of times and scrambling off trail whenever we felt like it.


A valley further we reached the Estany de Colberante at 2490m, which the HRP guide book praised as an ideal camping spot.
Unfortunately, the weather has deteriorated, and we were desperately looking for shelter, to no avail. So we pitched the tent and spent the night pretty much without sleep through two heavy thunderstorms with rain and hail.


I still do not know what the best survival strategy is in a thunderstorm at high altitude without any protection nearby. My guess is that the narrow valley was our savior, because the lightning strikes would rarely find their way all the way down to the valley floor. It was scary enough, though.

(to be concluded)


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After scanning some 400 negatives from pictures I took in the summer of 1990 (on my first hiking trip to the Pyrenees), the selection process feels difficult. I could go about it chronologically and tell about all the little mishaps, like the inept preparation (who would pack a full tracking backpack and in addition wrap a large bag to hold camera and multiple lenses around the neck?), or the virus infested water at Gavarnie we learned about too late.

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All this is silly, of course. Why should one go hiking in the Pyrenees to begin with? One reason to hike the Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne we had not in mind was that this trail is transversal to the famous Camino de Santiago, used by pilgrims even today for personal enlightenment. Which brings us to a theme.

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The light in the Pyrenees is special. It combines the mediterranean softness with the clarity of high altitude.

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And there are special places, too, that deserve clarity. Like the Brèche de Roland, where Roland, after losing the battle against the Basques in 788, destroyed his sword Durandal. leaving a 40 meters wide gap in the mountains, part of which can be admired above.

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They all should have done the same with their weapons before the battle.