Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 5 - Zuriza to Candanchu

35km, 1725 metres of ascent
I'm not sure why, but I found this stage incredibly tough. It was probably a combination of painful feet, inadequate nutrition and scorching heat through the middle of the day.

The early morning climb out of the valley from Zuriza was stunning, with a Dolomites style background provided by the jaggy Sierra d'Alano. And once over the Cuello Petraficha waves upon waves of jaggy mountains were stretching off into the distance.

The descent down to La Mina wasn't too difficult, and I spent half an hour at the river dossing around and having some lunch.

The afternoon however took on a different complexion. It looked all fairly innocuous on the map, but the initial long drag up the pista was in the full mid-day sun, then the hike across the Aguas Tuertas was riddled with ditches and boggy bits that made it quite slow, then the climb up and over past the Ibon d'Estanes was quite rocky and complex, and finally the descent to Candanchu was a bit of a nightmare. To start off with, the French had painted decoy markers in white/red/white just to confuse you and lure you off the GR11, and then when you finally found the GR you realised it went into a massive steep-sided re-entrant with a couple of very tricky stream crossings with no footbridges.

It was quite a relief to come over the brow of the hill and drop down into the Candanchu ski area. Luckily I found the Refugio Valle del Aragon, which turned out to be an excellent place to stay.

More photos from Day 5

Route map for Day 5
View GR11 - Day 5 in a larger map

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