GR 11 Update – Halfway to the Med

Our journey continued towards the Mediterranean, and on day 19 we hit the halfway point of the GR 11. The halfway meant also entering the region of Catalunya, which brings us to the ocean! We were beyond excited 😀

DAY 17

We both slept like babies in the cute little bothy upon the pass. As we left the hut, the sun just hit on the mountains behind us and it was absolutely magical! It was probably the most beautiful morning of the whole trip. We started walking downhill to a campground. The trail was gorgeous till there! In the shade, the grass was even frozen and the lighting was very special. I love all the pictures from that morning! The campground was abandoned and a strange vibe there. We had only a short snack break there and then continued. Our plan for today was to walk upon a pass, where another bothy was supposed to be. The weird thing was, though, that in Sara’s Guidebook there wasn’t one.

We crossed a Refugio on the way there and wanted to find out if there’s a hut or not. The weather forecast was not the best for that day. I was super happy to always check the weather with my Garmin inReach Mini when we needed to. When we asked the one guy from the hut that spoke English, he was sure that there wasn’t a hut upon the pass. So we needed a new plan but first, we walked on. Shortly before the last climb to the pass, we had our lunch break. There we met the four Czech guys again. While we ate our rice crackers with avocado we discussed what we should do. Some black clouds rolled in over the pass. Although that, we decided to go over and to the next hut or camp somewhere on the way down.

Over the Pass and On and On

It was a steep ascend and longer than expected. Also, it was cold wind going and I had to change back into my long leggings. My legs were red from the cold, then you know. After 1.5 hours we made it up there only to go downhill on the other side. There was no sign of any hut at the pass. The trail went first over gravel fields and then changed into grassy meadows. It started to drizzle a little. We made our way to the Refugio. Then the disappointing news, that they were full. That means another 1.5 hours to walk to the next bothy.

Because you’re not allowed to camp under 2000 meters, which was right at the hut, and we went further down. We were tired but had basically no other choice. The trail was fortunately nice and mostly on a dirt road. After nearly 10 hours of hiking and 28km later, we reached the Cabana Santa Anna! We quickly cooked our food, stretched, and went exhausted to bed…

 

DAY 18

Due to we being ahead of the plan we slept in a bit. That meant sleeping until 6.15 am haha, not really a sleep-in. During the night mice were chewing on our stuff and Sara hung our stuff. It was a short walk till Puente de San Chaime. There we went straight to the supermarket and made our resupply. The biggest food carry was ahead of us, which was five days till Espot. It was difficult to find good options because the shop was in the camping and therefore a lot of cans and glasses. After we spent at least an hour in the tiny shop we changed into the restaurant. There we had traditional tostada (toasted bread with tomato and olive oil) and some coffee for me. We plugged in all our electronics and checked our phones.

The time flew by in there, and so we ordered a vegan pizza for lunch. It was a frozen pizza, but what a good one! It was nice to just sit down and not be in a rush. We left the restaurant only to eat more before we hit the trail. We bought a jar of olives, a coke, and more to eat before walking up the mountain. With our bellies more than full we left the Camping Aneto at 4.30 p.m. We spent seven fricking hours at the camping! Gladly the trail followed a dirt road up to the Refugio Puente de Coronas, our place for the night. It was a boring and unspectacular walk up the road. The funniest thing was when a bus passed us. You should have seen our faces haha.

Full Huts – That’s New

At the hut were unexpectedly many people. Apparently, it was a good start point to climb Pico de Aneto, the highest mountain in the Pyrenees. We were lucky to get the last sleeping spots! Of course, we were again hungry after three hours of hiking. So we had dinner in front of the hut in the last sunshine of the day. The people weren’t very talkative only a father and his son, who did a little hike. Later than usual, we snuggled into our sleeping bags.

We’re Halfway, baby!

DAY 19

I can tell you – what a night! It was a nightmare. The man next to me snored so loud I had no chance to fall asleep. Around midnight I said to myself if I don’t fall asleep within the next 15 minutes I’m gonna take my stuff and sleep on the floor. Guess what I did – I took my stuff and went on the floor and actually slept 😀 That day we planned an easy day because today was halfway day! For that special occasion, we planned to stay at a very cute little bothy (hut). We packed our stuff and started hiking by eight a.m. We went uphill over the first of the day. It was a long and steady ascent, the scenery was alpine and stunning. Again we had the best weather!

On the ascent, we came across a few very beautiful lakes. Before the last push to the pass, we had a short snack break at a lake. More people than normal passed us. That was probably because we were walking to the “fanciest” Refugio of the Pyrenees. The last bit onto the pass was going through a boulder field. I packed my trekking poles in my pack, to not break them in the little holes between the boulders. I kinda like going through boulder fields, hopping from boulder to boulder 😀 The marking was excellent. On top, we had an awesome new view, and it had cell reception. We had a short phone break before we headed down to the Refugio. It was a steep descent, also through boulder fields partwise.

On the Way to Our Dream Hut

From far away you could see already the new hut with its shiny silver look. Around 1:30 p.m. we arrived at the hut and decided to eat lunch there. Best news ever, they had gas canisters!! I was out of gas for already a few days and borrowed Sara’s old one. I was super happy! We fell in love even more, when they had vegan food. Finally, we had cooked lentils instead of crunchy ones. It is the small things that make you the happiest! We sat outside on the terrace when another hiker walked in. He was swiss and had the same backpack as I had 😀 We talked a bit and then we set off to our dream hut Refugio d’Anglios. To get there we had to climb over another small pass. It was a fast ascent and after an hour we were up there.

We could see in the far the first Catalonian mountain and below us, there were incredible beautiful lakes. We made our way down to them through boulder fields and there it happened. I didn’t pack my trekking poles away and once I heard this cracking noise. I looked down my pole, but all was good. Only a few minutes later we wanted to film a tripod shot and then I saw that my right pole broke apart. I was a bit annoyed, but it was my own fault. It was the first piece of gear I broke. From now on, I only walked with one pole. Which is super weird, I tell you… We passed the lakes and then we saw the hut for the first time. It was located in this open wide plateau – just AMAZING!

Celebrations

When we got there, a big group of young people just left the hut. In the hut, there were three sleeping bags placed. Luckily, it had a little second-floor. We went up the ladder to check if we both fit. It fitted just perfect for both our sleeping pads! After setting up, we had a long stretching party in front of the hut. We were so happy to really make it here!! I saw that hut already in my guidebook and knew I wanted to stay here. Sara felt exactly the same way. While our food soaked up we had a quick bath in the stream close to the hut. Refreshed we had dinner outside. It was the best point to celebrate our halfway into the GR 11! 😀


DAY 20

We both slept like a baby, gladly no one snored of the other people. The alarm went off early (at five a.m.) and we packed our things as quietly as possible. When I got outside to pee it was still dark. We left the hut at about 6:30 a.m. that early because we made a reservation in a Refugio and we had to be there at six p.m. The trail went first along a lake and then steep downhill through a forest. I felt my right knee a bit and made me worry. After that, we followed a river within the forest until we hit a road. We crossed the road and there it was, the border to Catalunya! It looked very unspectacular but for us, it was an important point of the journey. We walked in parallel the road upwards the valley.

 

There we came across a Refugio, where we made a short break. It ended up a much longer break than planned. That’s what’s happening when there’s cell service. We left the hut at 11 a.m. and made our way valley upwards. As many times before the climb started right at midday and it was a hot day. You could feel that we were below 2000 meters. It was a steep ascent and I was sweating all over. The good thing about steep ascents is that you gain height very fast. When we reached the high point, we followed along the side of a lake. At the end of the lake, before the descent, we finally had lunch. It was already two p.m. and I was starving. I had ramen for lunch. We still had some way to go therefore after an hour we hit the trail again.

Overnight in a Refugio

The trail descended first in this beautiful valley. We thought it was only downhill to the hut, but it’s never like that. It went over two relatively small hills just short before the hut. From the second hill, you could already see the Refugio. It was situated right at a dam lake. We walked over the dam and checked into our dormitory. Christian, the Swiss guy, also stayed there. We actually made it in time – at 5.30 p.m. we arrived there. The sun was still out and so we stretched in the front of the hut, had some olives and I had a beer. We cooked dinner ourselves together with Christian on a bench outside. It was a nice evening. Both Sara and I were excited to sleep in an actual bed 😀


That was it for this week’s blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it 😀

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