Friday, July 30, 2010

GR11 in 23 Days

I completed the GR11 on Monday 26th July at a scorching and windy Cap de Creus,
23 days since leaving Cabo Higuer on the Atlantic Coast. My route was about 825km with 39,000 metres of ascent.
Photo albums | Route on Google maps

View GR11 in 23 Days in a larger map


tml said...

I haven't read all the entries yet, so maybe you describe your equipment in one of them? If not, could you give a short description of the kind of tent, sleeping bag, backpack etc that you used, and what you would do differently if you were to do the hike again, thanks!

Chris said...

Hi, I put a note on packing, right near the start of the blog that describes what I was planning to take.

However I learned a few things on the trip, and ditched some clothes and my gas burner and pan.

My tent was a Terra Nova Solar Minor - about 1.5kg. I was happy with this, since it is easy to pitch and withstood the worst weather and pitching on gravel.

Sleeping bag was Mountain Equipment Xero 250. This was perfect for the job.

Backpack was an old KIMM 35L. This was fine, and only just big enough.

I took a gas burner and pan, but eventually ditched these, since I never found any gas and found it simpler to eat picnic food.

My Saucony Xodus shoes were probably not ideal. A bit too light and soft, so my feet took a real battering.

Are you thinking of giving it a go?

tml said...

> Are you thinking of giving it a go?

Well, not the whole route, or at least not in just 23 days... But I hope to be able to convince the wife to do a week or so of hiking in the Pyrenees next year, or the year after that. (This summer we did just a few one-day treks up the mountains and back based in Gèdre, France.)

Although, I must say your repeated mention of mosquitoes is a bit disappointing, as I have always said the lack of mosquitos is one good reason why I prefer hiking in Central Europe to something closer to home like Lapland...

Chris said...

The mosquitoes were only a problem when I wild camped in damp bits of forest. There were no problems with mosquitoes on the proper campsites.

You should get some ideas from my photos of which section to visit if you only have a week or so. I guess from Torla to Espot is the most scenic and dramatic section.

tml said...

By the way, while I have your attention: Do you have any experience of the French GR 10? If yes, how does it compare to the Spanish GR 11?

Chris said...

I've only hiked a few kilometres of the GR10 near Gavarnie and Pic Midi d'Ossau. My impressions of the French side are that it's much greener, so it must have more rain and cloud, and it seemed a lot busier on the trail. But I am quite tempted to have a bash at the GR10 next year...

Sorenrv said...

Hi Chris

Thanks a lot for sharing your fantastic hike with us mortals :o). It is very inspiring and I am looking forward to reading it in detail as preparation for a 4-7 days GR11 hiking trip with my wife next summer.

This past summer I hiked solo in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey and without my GPS (Garmin) loaded with waypoints I would have been seriously lost at times. From the Google Map it seems that you have detailed GPS data of the track you followed. Are you willing to share your GPS track data?

Thanks a lot in advance,

Soren from Denmark

Chris said...

Hi Soren,
Thanks for your comment. Which section are you planning to hike? I thought the GR11 was just fantastic. But I was hiking such huge distances each day it was hard to take it all in. With regards the Google map tracks, I'm afraid I just drew those by hand. They were not recorded using GPS, since I didn't take any GPS device with me. I think you will discover the route finding on the GR11 quite straightforward with good way markings.
All the best,

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, I want to walk the GR11 next year but I'm looking for some serious GPS Trackpoints ... can you help me there or tell me a place where i can download it? Thanks Thomas

Ronald said...

Hey Chris!
First of all, thanks for the detailed account on the GR11 and the references to other GR11 blogs, it really helped me to prepare and get inspired! I'm going to walk the route in July, and plan to do it in about 30 days. I have a question concerning equipment; I will spend as many nights as possible wildcamping, and wanted to know about night temperatures. Since over the entire trip these temperatures will differ dramatically, will a sleeping bag with a comfort level of 10 - 15 Celsius be enough or will there be too many nights in the central part of the route much colder than this? Thanks!

Chris said...

Hi Ronald,
I used a Mountain Equipment Xero 250 sleeping bag with no liner, and I don't remember ever being cold at night. I think the coldest morning was at Pla de Boet just before crossing into Andorra. But once I dropped into Andorra later that morning it was completely scorching, and I had to shelter from the sun to eat my lunch.
Good luck with your GR11 in July!

Foxie said...

I have walked the GR10 4 times in the last ten years. I am thinking of doing the full GR11 in 2011. I am a bit worried about lack of spanish? The waymarks on GR10 are very good, what are they like non GR11? Thanks

Chris said...

Hello Foxie, Thanks for your comment. I speak essentially zero Spanish, but had no problems on the GR11 getting by mainly with French, and only very occasionally using English. In general the waymarking was fine on the GR11, although it was important to use constant map and compass work, to ensure you kept on the right trail. It was quite easy to lose concentration and occasionally drift off the trail.

Nico Jones Gödel said...

(I have to write the comment again... There was an error on Firefox and it disappeared :( )
First, congrats on your blog!
I'm planning on going there in about 20 days, I'd like to make at least half of the way...
I've been reading that you took a gas burner with you... Didn't you use it? Why?
Another thing is, on other sites, I found that they recommend to take wool gloves with you, and some winter clothes. In middle June?!?!
Also, did you take waterproof boots with you?
Thanks a lot! ! ! ! !

Chris said...

Hi Nico,
Thanks for your comment, and good luck with your own trip! On the GR11 I did carry a gas burner and pan as far as Espot, but never saw any place selling resealable gas canisters. In general the weather was pretty good when I hiked the GR11, but I did get one afternoon of cold heavy rain on the approach to Torla. I think you should prepare for some cold rainy weather. I did not have waterproof boots, just lightweight running shoes that were not ideal, and had very sore feet for much of the hike!

Ronny Malka said...

Hello I love your blog. I have some questions for you. One. What weight did you take with you throughout the journey? Two. Do take a hit one day on a weekend? Three. How much on average you used one day? I'd really appreciate it if you respond to me

Ray said...

Hi Chris,

Just a quick note: I enjoyed your blog and have now a pretty good idea of what to expect. Thanks.

Warm greetings,

Tim Ryan said...

Hi Chris,
thanks for sharing your experience on the blog, and well done on your achievement, very impressive.
I am looking to start early September and finish early to mid-October, so will need a little more warm clothing. But your advice on equipment, backed up by your experience on the trek, looks spot on. I was contemplating taking a gaz stove, but may reconsider given your comments. I also aim to mostly camp, with occasional hut - if only to save on carrying too much food. I shall be taking a little more weight and larger rucksack, but am looking to utbak where I can.
thanks again.

Tim Ryan said...


Heather Leggett said...

Hi Chris,

Well done on your achievement! Sorry if you have answered this question somewhere else but I was just wondering which section you thought was the most attractive and interesting to walk? My partner and I are looking to walk a section of the GR11 in August/September this year for about 14 days (12 days walking I guess after travelling) but have not yet decided which section to walk. He likes taking photographs so more scenic areas would be more important to him. Thanks in advance, Heather

Chris said...

Hi Helen,

Thanks! Seems like a long time ago now. I'd say the middle third of the trip is probably the most scenic and interesting. You definitely want to visit the Ordesa Canyon. I also went back the following year and hiked the HRP which I'd say is more impressive and scenic, since you are generally higher in the mountains, and the route criss-crosses the French-Spanish border.

Good luck.


Liran Schwartz said...

hello Chris, its ok to sleep in G11
and in Aigüestortes National Park, Pyrenees, Spain
only with tent?

thanks Liran