Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Thursday 23 July 2015 - Pyrenees GR11 - Day 39 - Camping Can Fosses, Planoles to Nuria (Hotel Vall de Nuria)

 
 
 
 
 
 
Distance: 18 km (Cum: 656 km)

Ascent: 1600 metres (Cum: 37250 metres)

Time taken: 8.2 hrs including 1.8 hrs stops (Cum: 271.4 hrs including 54.6 hrs stops)

Weather: blue skies, warm, a few clouds in the afternoon but nothing threatening

Derk joined our team today, so Tobi and I enjoyed the company of this paediatric cardiologist for a day dominated by two big ascents. Petra and Jolijn had found GR11 a little demanding so returned to collect their car from Encamp whilst Derk walked with us.

The sun struggled to reach our corridor between two hedges before the tents came down, so they were dried out later on the lawn at Nuria. Goodbyes and best wishes were exchanged, and a self timed photo of our group of five was stored on my memory card for transmission to the Netherlands at a later date. Then at 8.20 we stormed off.

Compared with yesterday's gently ascending tracks, today's gradient on the steep woodland paths was positively brutal. But it was relatively cool and fly free. I was surprised to reach the picnic spot by Refugi Corral Blanc in less than an hour. We'd climbed over 500 metres to get there - my fastest ascent of the whole trip. We knew we must be near the Refugi as a friendly dog, apparently named 'Refugi' came over to join us at the water point.

On we sped, to Queralbs for lunch, via the head of a long valley and some lovely contouring paths. Various types of potato croquettes seem to be the star attractions of this locality's menus. So we enjoyed some of those with our drinks, with obligatory crisps and olives, in this very pretty village that actually seems to have a life!

Perhaps it's because of its proximity to a significant resort (Nuria) served by a rack and pinion railway.

Lunch hour over, the two youngsters again flew off ahead of me, up another 800 metres towards Nuria. Rather frustratingly, every few minutes the electric trains hummed past, ferrying grockles up and down to and from Nuria. Some of the braver ones chose to walk down the path, but I'm sure they were a small minority. I wonder whether they noticed the eagles, circling, ready to pounce.

After what seemed like and probably was several hours of toilsome ascent up a narrow gorge in the dripping heat of the afternoon, we popped out onto a low ridge at 1983 metres. Well, Tobi and Derk - mountain climbing machines extraordinaire - were there a good twenty minutes before me, but their mouths were still wide open as they gazed at the Shangri-la laid before their eyes.

I'd seen it before from the ridge above, but I'd never visited Nuria. It reminds me a bit of some golf club/conference centre venues I've visited. Below us was a boating lake, beyond which a huge mowing machine was trimming the manicured lawn. A huge building dominates the complex. That's our hotel for the night, outside which is a crazy golf course, a basic campground and a large donkey sanctuary. To the right is a railway station, complete with all the bells and whistles that you'd expect to find there.

We ambled down and faffed. It was all a bit too much. After checking room prices we enjoyed a beer on the lawn with Derk before waving him off to get a train back down to Queralbs where he would meet the rest of his family.

After drying our tents (we won't be using them then) Tobi and I sorted out a strategy whereby we both got our way and my financial adviser could head off to the Bahamas in the knowledge that I'd taken his valued advice. We checked in to a twin room and before you could say 'Black Madonna' we were tucking in to the all you can eat buffet that comes with half board. Luckily my appetite has returned with a vengeance.

Today's pictures:
Early mist over Planoles
View at the head of the valley between Planoles and Queralbs
Pyrenean Eryngo now looking rather past its best
The valley leading to Nuria
First view of Nuria
Window at Nuria

Next Day - Day 40

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10 comments:

Louise said...

That sounds more like it, so glad you have made a full recovery.

wuxing said...

Reading this post, I couldn't help but wonder. From your description whether Nuria=Narnia? Look out for all kinds of strange beasts and fairies. A shame to waste all that nice flat grass by sleeping in a bed - nevertheless, enjoy...

Nallo Lady said...

You definitely deserve a little luxury!

Humphrey Weightman said...

Yum Yum! Nuria is a deeply strange construct - 1930's brutalist archicture melded to revisonist theology hey ho!

Tommorrow you have the very wonderful Nuria Ridge, And highest point on the GR11. Look out for The Giant's Head on your right. And send up a prayer when you meet with the nine crosses at the col. . .


Alan Sloman said...

Well, I've finally caught you up, as you have almost finished!

This looks a much better day all round - a good walk and clamber, and a good hotel and food at the end of it.
Enjoy your beers, Martin. Richly deserved.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks everyone. I was considering the engineers route suggested by Humphrey, but as Tobi has never been on the splendid ridge I think we'll take that option.

Sadly we aren't allowed to camp on the lawn Nick!

Sir Hugh said...

Those skies and purply shaded mountains are starting to have that Mediterranean ambience - special colours and tones.

Phreerunner said...

I'm not sure about that Conrad, any purply tinges may more likely be an indication of a nearby electrical storm waiting to pounce.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, German Martin again. I just wanted to mention that since Brian wrote his guide an unserviced Refugi opened in Talaixa - that's about 3 1/2 hours into his monstrous stage 40. Refugi is absolutely beautiful and in excellent condition - with room for more than 6 persons. You just have to bring enough water from Beget to last you an hour into the next morning.
Good to hear you recovered.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Martin
I'll be staying in Beget and then going a bit further than that so I'll give it a miss. It's a long way to have to carry water!