The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all my trips
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- 10 june 2009 -
Back to Col du Portillon

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

Part of a 16-days trip, using day 1-10 to cover bm154 to 264 in the eastern Pyrenees and day 11-16 for bm416 to 365 near Bagnères-de-Luchon.

Day 16: from Col du Portillon a reconnaissance of routes to bm374, finding bm367 and searching the markers at the W-side of the Col.
For explanation of the gps-coordinates and other cartographic backgrounds:
see my cartography page

According to my watch:
Duration: 9.30-18.00,  in total 8.26 hours, breaks ± 1 hour
Up: 1175 m
Down: 1186 m
Total elevation 2361 m
Highest point:1742 m
Lowest point: 1302 m

According to visugpx
- distance : 10.95 km
- cum. elevation gain : 833 m
- cum. elevation loss : 826 m
- total elevation:  1659

- altitude maxi : 1741 m
- altitude mini : 1299 m
- altitude average : 1452 m
My hotel in Bagnères-du-Luchon.

I get a lift from two workmen to the Col du Portillon. Underway, they make a short stop to collect mushrooms.
Part 1: exploring the route to the cabane beyond bm373, finding bm367.

At Col du Portillon, I climb the rock behind bm366 at its left-side.

Apparently, this painted marker is on the backside but I can't remember that exactly.

From there I keep following the double red stripes on the trees which do indeed follow the ridge.

A next rocky hill, I pass on its left side. To the right - down below - there's a Spanish dirtroad close or very close.

At a certain point, the 'red' route descends to a clear point of contact with the dirtroad.

From the dirtroad (this picture) you can see a large tree with red stripes and a F. Moreover there's a mountainbike-sign on that side and a 'CACA'-sign on the other side of the road.

This is nice entry point into the forest towards bm367. From bm366, you can simply follow the Spanish dirtroad until this point.

I continue along the red stripes, keep an eye on rocky outcrops and discover


Bm367. I continue along the stripes = the ridge and pass the 'piton' where I searched intensively yesterdag for bm367. Then there's another small hill after which - on a sort of pass - I see bm368. Then - after another small hill - in a muddy valley bm369.

From bm369, the borderridge is not clear but there are still red stripes leading you - higher up - to bm371 with already in sight bm371 higher on.

Then I go to the left, still following the stripes until I loose them or they vanish. Anyway, the ridge is getting again more distinct but remember to go - further on - to the left of the ridge. Otherwise you might miss the rocky outcrop where bm372 and bm273 are.
From bm373, descending N to the cabane. The cabane is good orientation point. There's a stream in the NW-corner of the meadow. Keep in mind that the next stream/source is beyond bm397 along the GR10-trail, a half day of walking further.

I take a break, nicely in a garden chair I found inside the cabin.

Just before the cabane, a trail goes left, entering the forest further on.

Move the cursor over the picture to see the approximate trail from the second meadow, climbing to bm374
Part 2: a reconnaissance of a GRPdesBF-route towards bm374 and returning to Col de Portillon. First a Google Earth map of my reconnaissance from the cabane.

First I try the trail just above the cabane going W but that one enters the forest too high. You have to take a vague cattle track just below the cabane which bring you to the W-corner of the meadow. In the forest the track gets more distinct and brings you with a slight curve to the S-corner of the second meadow.
From the second meadow - at its W and NW-side - , there are two entry point into the forest roughly going N:

1. at  the lowest (NW) point where two tracks merge and enter the forest and become more like a forest-road.
2. in the higher corner (W) where a forest-road starts but soon becomes a path.

ad 2. : I first try nr. 2, as soon as you enter the forest, you will see through the trees the open hillside towards bm374 to your left. I climbed directly to the open hillside. I descend back, apparently don't recognize trail nr. 2 and end up on trail nr. 1

ad 1. : I climb along this forest-road which becomes a path which becomes a cattle track. If you doubt, keep following the most distinct track/path. The trail leaves the forest,winds through large boulders and arrives at the foot of the last climb to the cabane near bm374. At one point the cabane is already visible. I stop and return to the meadow, there I repeat part of trail nr. 2 for a gps-track.

- trail 2 is shorter but requires steep climbing in the forest and on the hillside
- trail 1 is more elegant, more beautiful but longer.

I return to the cabane and from there pick up the borderline and go back, making again pictures of the bordermarkers, I did yesterday.

Beyond bm367, at that point of contact with the dirtroad, I pick up the dirtroad and walk back to Col du Portillon with


A second break at the picknick-table alongside bm366.

Part 3: searching the bordermarkers at the other side of the Col.

The border doesn't simply cross the Col but descends a while along the west-side of the road to the S/SW and then - at a large triangular pillar - enters the forest on a forest-road.

There are small unnumbered markers along the road and in the forest (until bm365), with a F and E on either side.

Along the forest-road I spot again those double red stripes which follow/indicate the borderline. But not everywhere it seems: not at bm361 and perhaps not at bm364 which I didn't find.

I easily find bm365, above the road.


But further on - along the forest-road - I can't find bm364.

With help of the red stripes and the distances mentioned in the Procès-Verbal, I can establish its location quite well but no trace of bm364. Higher upon the hill there's a larger rocky outcrop but that seems too far away from the red stripes.

In 2010 I will learn that bm364 wasn't found either by Robert Darrieumerlou and Paco Nudels. Paco - however - shows an old picture of the cross on this page. Paco got his picture from the "Archives de La Guardia Civil".
I go on, following the red stripes. The forest-road has become more of a path and after some winding, I find



Beyond bm363 there's no real path anymore but the red stripes bring me to



The distances mentioned in the Procès-Verbal between the bordermarkers are a good help.

Then walking becomes scrambling over large boulders and I find - more by chance -


It's located at the tilted side of a rockwall on top of those boulders mentioned above.
But it's off the 'red line' of double striped trees. However, there's an indication on the red line itself: a bit below bm361 there's red cross painted on a rock.

Bm361 looks amateuristic.

It seems only painted but the number is engraved (a little). The other bordercrosses around look a lot better and more professional.


The Procès-Verbal mentions a "anfractuosité" nearby, that's a hole or cave. I can't remember seeing such a hole/cave.

I follow the 'red line' downhill to a stream and a trail. There I find



I return, trying to go along the previous markers with help of my gps-compass but I get a bit lost. Especially after bm363, I end up too high in the forest.

I search again - in vain - for bm364

Then - beyond bm365 - a picture of one of those unnumbered submarkers.

And this is the triangular 'submarker' at the point where the border leaves the edge of the tarmac road and enters the forest.

Another unnumbered submarker, this one between the Col du Portillon and the pillar  in the previous picture.

From the col I get a lift back to town (again by someone doing a spa-therapy in Bagnères-du-Luchon, this one works in a mortuary).

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