Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 27 - Saturday 21 August 2004 - Stage 22
Barking dog camp to Lac des Isclots
Back to a typical day in beautiful but cool weather – 9.5 hours, 18 km, 1500m ascent
An early start from camp, where our alarms were pre-empted by the barking dogs, then a long, cool haul up to a high pass, down for a nice lunch, then around a high and exposed (but wide) contouring path. Eventually arrived at Lac de Caillaoues, before the final ascent to a beautiful spot by the lower Lac Des Isclots to camp. A lovely evening.
Diary Entry (by Martin)
Luxuriating in the tent at Lac Des Isclots - 2398 metres - in late sunshine with wisps of cloud blowing across the lake, a full stomach and plenty to drink. What could be better!
Today was a typical HRP day - woke soon after 6 am to the sound of barking dogs (not typical) and dozed until the second alarm at 7 am. A poor breakfast - an error not to buy muesli - fruit and fibre cereal is a poor substitute, especially with only water to wash it down.
Still, it was a nice day, if cold, and we set off in fleeces and long trousers (except Julie) at 8.10. 8°C. Lots of geological interest ahead to the east, with crumpled rock strata in evidence (the Posets?). We soon passed the Viados hut (8.30), and I stopped to change into shorts and t-shirt at 9 am, at 1800 metres, to avoid overheating, then felt cool - it was only 7°C.
Eventually by 10 am, we had reached the junction of three streams, where GR11 heads off east to Estos, and we head north. We moved back into the sun here, after being in the shade - 2010 metres, 11°C. Very pleasant. So we headed up, as directed by our two guidebooks, to Port d'Aygues-Tortes (2669 metres).
View from Port d'Aygues-Tortes
Despite it being a Saturday, we saw very few people today, especially on the Spanish side (before the Port). Two people dashed past us descending into
, and a
couple were lunching at the high tarn. Big views from the col - 12.10. Then we
descended directly and easily, following Spain ,
to the Aygues Tortes valley, for a pleasant lunch from 1.00 to 1.50, amongst a
carpet of bright yellow Dwarf Eyebright flowers. cairns
Lunch below Port d'Aygues-Tortes
We ate well today - the usual two tins of various fish (roe, and mackerel in mustard sauce today) on a baguette, skilfully carried by Sue, with copious 'mountain mix' and chocolate.
After lunch we descended to about 2050 metres, then headed up a well marked path to Pouchergues before in an easy track around Pic de Quartau, high above the Clarabide valley and the huge power station at La Soula.
It suddenly warmed up along this path, after being a really cold day until then. Cloud invaded our views from the French side, and the mountains were shrouded in it for a few hours, before, by now (8.15 pm) clearing completely, leaving a wide open view with a little high cloud and a crescent moon visible from our tent door.
We progressed around the track, exposed at times, with the occasional bit of railway line, and some metal walkways. At one point we even seemed to pass through a house. Eventually we reached the main path from La Soula and followed it up to Lac Caillauas, a large reservoir, eerie in the mist. Julie caught up by going across the dam (Sue and I missed the path). An interesting rocky route in the mist then took us up to the lower Lac Des Isclots ('lake of little islands') by 5.35 (Julie a bit later). 2398 metres, 18°C, 768mb.
Others were camping, but we found a good spot and had a relaxing few hours and a good meal before ordering hot chocolate from Julie (now 8.30) once our diaries had been updated.
Camp at Lac des Isclots (2400 metres)
Julie's feet are feeling a bit (very sore earlier) better - it was a hard day for her but she did (just about) keep up! (After a reassessment of her luggage in Bielsa.)*
* I was wondering whether there would be reference to this. Upset at finding my Phreerunner tent relegated to the outside of Julie's rucksack, I had insisted that she dispose of sufficient items to enable the tent to travel inside her rucksack. Thus several pots and pans and other unnecessary equipment had been binned in Bielsa... - Ed
Stats and route (Viewranger):
18 km, 1500 metres ascent, 9.5 hours