The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all my trips
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- sunday 31 august 2014 -
Proud of bm196

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Summary: part of a 2-weeks trip along the entire Pyrenees, focussing on high altitude reconnaissance of parts of my GRPdesBF-trail.

Today: after visiting bm196, driving to Col de la Pierre St-Martin for a survey of the routes between bm261 and 264

Weather: sunny in the afternoon
I arrived yesterday at the camping municipal in St-Étiènne-de-Baïgorry after a long drive from Holland.

After packing my tent, I drive to

the venta-complex near Arneguy.

Target: the recently undigged bm196.

See this page for the details of this long buried bordermarker.
Bm196 with your pride bordermarker-researcher.
Bm196, a last close-up.

Then driving - climbing on foggy mountain-roads - to the Col de la Pierre St-Martin.
Trip 2

(click to open this trip in Google Earth or copy link to Google Maps; click right on this link to download gpx-version)

A survey from Col de la Pierre St-Martin of the routes between bm261 and 264. I have been here before but focussing more on bordermarkers than on wayfinding/navigating.
Conclusion today: bm261 can be reached in a more interesting & elegant way and the trail I had in mind for the the GRPdesBF from bm262 onwards to Col d'Arlas needs some change.

For explanation of the gps-coordinates and other cartographic backgrounds: see the cartography-page

Start: 12h, finish: 16h, net walking time: 4h

According to the gps-tripteller:
Distance: 7,9 km
Total ascent: 446m
Total denivellation: 892m
Maximum height: 1909m
Total time: 3.58h

According to visugpx

- distance :  6,9 km
- cum. elevation gain : 282m
- cum. elevation loss : 283m
- total elevation: 565m

- altitude maxi : 1911m
- altitude mini : 1691m
- altitude average : 1806m

It's still foggy when I start from the parking strip NE of bm262.

This picture: the NE-end of the parking strip. That's where I enter the hills to the right.
But there's no distinct trail from there.

Nevertheless I arrive at this small lake. This proves to be an important landmark in navigating from bm262 to Col d'Arlas and doing the variant to bm263.

Straight on = towards Col d'Arlas = the main route of the GRPdesBF.

But for the variant to bm263, you need to turn right (=SW) at the lake and go SW.

First you have to climb to this little col.
When getting over this col, you will see a hole/pit before you and 70m further a second hole/pit but smaller.

Let's show this variant via bm263 on Google Earth.
Zoom-in to that second hole/pit.
Having arrived at that second hole, go left 
and climb S/SE between two ridges with pine-trees.

When you arrive at the 'top' of that climb - which is sort of rim with a steep descent on the other side -
bend to the left and search for bm263 which is a bit hidden under a tree.

Cairns will help you to locate it.
Bm263, close-up
Then find your way back to the main route by traversing NE through the terrain until you reach a distinctive worn-out trail going SEE.

You are back now at the main route of the GRPdesBF.

In the distance, the Pic d'Arlas becomes visible and will become
more visible as you proceed.

Note the solitary tree to the right, that is an important landmark to find bm264.

In fact: bm264 is 30m SSW of that tree.

So: when you arrive at this point, leave the trail and go to the tree. Then go 30m SSW and you are at the rock of bm264.
Having arrived at bm264

In the background you can see that solitary tree.

Bm264, looking towards Pic d'Arlas.
Bm264, now with Pic d'Arlas ánd Pic d'Anie (to the right).
Bm264, close-up
I'm back at the solitary tree, looking towards bm264.

As said, that's a distance of ± 30m SSW
and a zoom-in of previous picture.

I have put a cairn on the rock of bm264, the cross & number are on the other side.
I continue to Col d'Arlas and further to check the source at the hillside of Pic d'Arlas.
The source is there and some hoses will help you to tap water.
Remember: this is the only source on the vast karst plateau laying ahead.
I return to the small lake.
and follow the 'yellow' trail at the other side to see where it brings me.
Well, it brings me here: at the road opposite a farmbuilding.

Conclusion: this is a more obvious (more distinct + waymarked) route to proceed to Col d'Arlas.
Let's explan that route in the right direction starting at bm262.

From bm262, go to the NE-end of the parking strip, then after 50m, a yellow-waymarked trail starts going E.
This signboard points to the yellow route which you have to follow towards col d'Arlas.
There are enough yellow waymarks to help you.
Soon (after 300m) the trail arrives at this small oval lake.

On the opposite side the trail (= main route) climbs uphill on a distinctive worn-out path.

But for the first variant (to bm263) go right (=SW) and climb to a ridge/col
with this view.

I have been here before today, see above for how to get to bm263.

I know enough and now proceed to the 'end' of the valley

and climb the trail uphill which brings me back to the road
with this building 75m S of bm262.

The veranda might give you shelter in bad weather

Approximately from the building, this panorama.
A zoom-in to the monument of the perished speleologist Marcel Loubens
But first some pictures of the  famous bm262
Between bm262 and the road down below, there are three triangular - unnumbered - submarkers.

This is the third one and nearest to bm262
At the roadside, there's the second one.
Zoom-in of previous picture.

You can already see the first submarker at the other side of the road.
The second submarker, seen from the other side.
The first submarker,
and seen from the othere sides.

The position of this first marker is interesting. It's on a line between the second marker and bm261 and in that way confirms a course of the borderline which is questionable.

Let's show it on a map, taken from this page:

The first marker = Marker A. The position of bm261 should be considered wrong: the treaty of 1858 describes a different spot. Read all about this mystery on this page.

How to get to bm261 in an elegant way (which is a variant)? Note: the red line is the main route of the GRPdesBF, the blue one the variant to bm261.

Descend from the bend in the road (see picture) on a trail 
which will bring you to the monument Loubens.
Zoom-in of previous picture.
The monument Loubens
Entrance to the cave
with a staircase.
The two plaques.
Then – behind the monument Loubens – proceed W along the rocky hillside on a trail, descending slowly to bm261.

So: from the monument continue W, then SW. That's about here.

NB: much later I spotted on this picture a cross. Let's
show it.

And this is the second sub-cross between bm261 and 262. See further-on.
Continuing SW with the rockwall on your right hand
until you arrive at bm261
Bm262, note the 'hanging' trees in the background.
Close-up. Note: there are two crosses.
I'm returning and look back: these trees indicate that you are close to bm262 which is 10-20m behind the trees.
Now I want to find the three crosses between bm261 and 262 from which I have pictures and waypoints provided by the Darrieu's. See this page.

I admire them, without their help it would have been very difficult.

This is the rock with the first cross.
That cross is hard to recognize.

Darrieu's picture shows it better.
The second cross
Closer. Note the cairn.
With chalk.
Further on, you can - close to the Loubens-monument - directly climb to the road.
Then the next question: is there an alternative and more direct route to bm262 (and 261) when coming from bm260?

Well, that should be this: leaving the road and in a ± straight line towards bm262.

I tried it but it takes more time. My conclusion: stick to the road until you can climb directly to bm262.

Also for the variant to bm261: keep to the road until you can descend to monument Loubens and continue to bm261.

And there's one last alternative access to bm261 to consider: that's the purple line which is a distance of ± 250m

Is possible but it's tough rocky terrain to traverse and you might need a gps to find bm261.
I return to bm262 and the car.

But there's one last sub-cross to find, the third one between the road and bm262.

Well, that cross is here
on this rock
at this spot.
Then - to finish the day - I drive to

bm259 (note the cross and number on the separate rock left)
The separate rock and number.

Bm258 also has an older and separate cross & number but I forgot them.
Then driving via the famous Col d'Aubisque
to Arrens-Massous to camping Le Gerrit.
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