Saturday, October 19, 2019

Carros de Foc day 1, to Ventosa i Calvell, 7/15/09

We took the bus to Vielha the day before, staying overnight in a fancy hotel, wandering the town, and getting in position for an early start. I remember feeling anxious and worrying that we were unprepared, but feeling very excited. Here's a lightly edited recap written at the end of that first day on the trail. 

our view in Vielha
Got a good start today -- nice breakfast buffet at the hotel, lots of cheese and bread and fruit. Then we grabbed our bags and went downstairs to talk to the nice blonde who had been helpful yesterday. She let us put our big bags in storage for the week and even called the taxi -- "Jaime" -- and asked him to take us to the trailhead. He turned up with another passenger and a minivan, but it was 4WD and he was easily able to take us to the highest trailhead, just an hour's walk from Restanca.

adios, Jaime!

But what an hour -- it felt like we went straight up through the forest on a rocky but obvious path. Wow. Really steep. But everyone said that the first hour would suck.

So imagine how pleased we were to see the curve of the dam that forms Lake Restanca -- and to see the refuge across the top of the dam. Yay!

Little did we know that we'd be climbing over that pass soon...

The refuge stands next to this beautiful lake, and made both of us feel a bit sad that we hadn't just gone up yesterday for the night.

Still, we had a little look around and got our swag: a surprisingly cool black hat, our sleepsacks, our maps, and our disappointing "lightweight towels" (read: washcloths). Tiny panic when whey couldn't find the blank forfaits, but then we got them. Hooray!

We set off along the lake but then rapidly climbed (again!) alongside a waterfall up to Cap deth Port lake. Wheezy.

looking down to the lake where the refuge is located
Cap deth Port Lake
Lots of wild flowers and green plants -- reminded us a lot of Mount Rainier national park. We followed the lake for a bit on very nice paths.

But all too soon we started up through the boulder field to the Coll Crestada, which was really tough: very steep, careful stepping, and frequent breaks.

Oh, and see those small red and white stripes? That's the route marker.

Beautiful views -- I made us stop partway along for candy because I was out of breath and feeling tired.

It took us two hours to reach the summit... 

...but then, suddenly, we were headed down the other side. Much more pleasant, grassy rather than bouldery. We managed to take the correct path to the refuge -- a little alarming because I didn't see the other path. But oh well.

The red and white blazes changed to yellow-painted sticks, and there were fewer of them -- but also they weren't as necessary on the obvious path.

A few more ups and downs, then lovely trail past glorious lakes.

All greens and blues. Bright sunshine. Still, I admit that I got tired.

And seeing the refuge -- even after just 5 hours of hiking -- was a thrill.

Ventosa i Calvell is pretty -- beds upstairs (we got -- after some switching around, end, lower-level bunks) and tables downstairs. 

We got the info (dinner 7-8, breakfast 6:30-7:30) and our table assignments, then we bought a beer and a soda and went outside to relax and eat our well-deserved lunch.

Lovely to feel physically tired but not in pain after about 5 hours total hiking. Bright sun outside, wind whistling around the refuge. Really great day.

Here's me "excitedly" awaiting dinner.... our first... we had much to learn...

We came to love and trust these signposts. Distances between locations were rarely expressed in distances, just in hiking times. The next day we would be hiking to Refugi d'Estany Llong... 5h30'. Okay, so sometimes the timing was a *little* off...


  1. Hi! Thanks for sharing these photos,wonderful places.Nature is very beautiful.I love your black bag and small colored ribbons! Have a good
    day! Hugs

  2. Thanks Carmela! It was fun to go through all our photos again for this trip from 10 years ago.