The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all my trips
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- wednesday 9 april 2014 -
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(click to open this trip in Google Earth or copy link to Google Maps; click right on this link to download gpx-version)

Summary: part of a 6-days trip to the Eastern Pyrenees, exploring routes between bm521 and bm545.
Basecamp: the camping municipal in St-Laurent-de-Cerdans.

Day 1: from Can d'Amunt redoing bm536-542 with 2 main goals: exploring the routes to bm536-537 and trying a direct descent to bm542

Weather: sunny, nice temperature
For explanation of the gps-coordinates and other cartographic backgrounds: see the

Start:8.30, break:14-14.45, finish: 20.15, net walking time: 11h
According to the gps-tripteller:
Distance:  16,3 km
Total ascent: 1091m
Total denivellation: 2282m
Maximum height: 772m
Total time: 11.53h

According to visugpx

- distance : 13.1 km
- cum. elevation gain : 893m
- cum. elevation loss : 898m
- total elevation: 1791m

- altitude maxi : 762m
- altitude mini : 391m
- altitude average : 602m

The day before I have arrived at the camping municipal in St-Laurent-de-Cerdans. The camping was still closed but the keeper let me pitch my tent anyway.

Flying to Girona and renting a car is faster and more pleasant than driving from Holland.

I park the car at Can d'Amunt. The old restaurant is still abandoned but the houses next to them are renovated.

Usually I immediately go wrong, her at Can d'Amunt. The beginning of the yellow trail to bm540 is not waymarked.

So I take the lower road/trail SW which ends beneath this water-reservoir with
this pipe with streaming water (now). Could be useful sometime.
But I have to return. The road/trail to the right is the one I have to take.

Soon yellow waymarks will appear and
a first bifurcation appears. Go left.

Further on, there's  a second bifurcation. Take the left trail (the yellow one)
This is the third bifurcation.
The trail left goes in the direction of bm541
The right one goes to bm540, that's the one I take.
Further on, a view to the W to (probably) the sources of the Muga with
its (zoom-in) typical brown precipities.
Here we arrive at the border where the trail descends into Spain with
Bm540, looking back
Then descending to the Muga, the trail is still yellow waymarked.

At one point, there's this view of the valley ahead
with (zoom-in) the nice chapel of San Bartomeu de Pincaró. I bivouaced ther twice on 20090316 and 20090318
The trail descends further, then goes along this rockwall and finally arrives
at the Muga.

The yellow  trail follows the partial dry streambed ± 50m downstream,
is waymarked with cairns and yellow signs and then continues on the other bank to climb
to the dirtroad.

No big deal and I did it before but I walk the trail up to the dirtroad and back again for a new gps-track.

This picture: a view from the dirtroad looking S = a bit up the road. It shows where the trail to the Muga starts.

As you can see: yellow waymarked.
I return along the trail to the Muga
with the yellow waymarks you need
to cross it and follow the streambed.
A mysterious sign which I saw a few times.
Then the yellow trail enters the forest again, going NW parallel of the Muga
But - after ± 100m (?) - the yellow trail branches right and starts to climb the hillside.

There's a cairn and yellow signs to mark it but you might miss it and go straight ahead.

And that's my route: continuing on this trail parallel to the Muga, now with no waymarks. 

I explored this route on 17 april 2009
It climbs above the Muga
and descends back to its bank.

From there you could follow the riverbed upstream

or take a dry river-arm (as I did) to the right and reach the streambed further on.

I spot red waymarks in that dry river-arm.

Zoom-in of previous picture.
That dry rivier-arm get's a bit narrow at places but no problem to get through. You will

arrive at the Muga again with - again - red waymarks.

I spot other ones which show

where to climb the riverbank again.
But first I want to try to follow the Muga upstream until bm536.

But I don't get much further. There's too much water now and there's a bit further a small cascade blocking continuation.
I have stopped worrying about wet feet.

My trailrunning shoes easily dry again (but won't smell better)
I return to the red waymarks, where they enter the forest.

From there a trail first zigzags NW uphill. Higher on, the trail becomes more vague but you should be able to reach
a hunter's sign on a tree: "Poste 538".
The same number is painted on a rock, ± 20m S down the hill.

This Poste turns out to be crucial in finding elegantly your way to bm536 en 537.

But that I will learn later.

From the Poste 538, the trail reaches bm538 in ± 100m NE uphill.
Bm538, looking ± SW where I came from.

Just beyond bm538 (10-15m), there's a trail branching off left from the 'main' trail.
It brings you in ± 50m to the upper end of a ravine cq dry streambed which descends to the SW.
Descending down this ravine will bring you along bm537 and then - becoming the borderline - to bm536 at the bank of the Muga.
But descending is not that easy:  at one point I have to make a small detour at the right side when the ravine gets too steep.

Further on I spot bm537 at the left side, ± 1-2m from the streambed.

You have to look back to spot it, otherwise you could miss it.

Left of it, you can see the ravine.

From bm537, a sort of trail descends besides the streambed (S of it) which brings you in 25m to
this distinct path crossing the streambed.

Note the metal 'hunting reserved' plate which is a bordermarker in its own right.

From that point, descending further in the streambed until the Muga is fairly easy.

When arriving at the bottom of the ravine and leaving the forest,  you're at the spot of bm536.

Often - when the Muga is high - sand and mud will cover up bm536.

I spot a little barrage of rocks which might prevent the flooding and covering up of bm536. I remember that Jacques Koleck and his brother built such a barrage. I might be theirs.

Bm536 is situated at groundlevel in front of a boulder.

The streambed of the Muga is ± 5m is away.
I check if I could walk back - downstream - along the Muga but the water is too high.

Conclusion: access to bm536 along the Muga is (now) not possible. Perhaps it can be done when the river is dry (like when Jan-Willem and I were here on 6 april 2008

The spot of bm536 is indicated by two white arrows pointing at its location.
The 'little barrage' of Jacques Koleck (I presume)
I climb back in the streambed - with a little rockscramble in between -(this picture) until the path crossing the streambed.

From there I revisit bm537 by going up and down the trail along the S-side of the streambed.

Then I want to explore the path crossing the streambed to see if that provides a smoother access when coming from bm538.

The path goes S and then - after ± 75m - gets less distinct. I wander a bit further and to my surprise end up at Poste 538!

I told earlier that ± 20m S, below this Poste538, there's
a rockstone with 538 painted on it.

It's time to come to a conclusion about the best route to visit the 536-537-538 bordermarkers when coming from the Muga

If you - coming from the Muga - arrive at Poste 538 and stand in front of it, go left (=W).

A few cairns I built, will bring you in ± 30m to the beginning of the distinct trail leading to the streambed.

These are the first and second cairns.
The second cairn
The second and third cairn
Zoom-in of the third cairn.
And then the fourth cairn at the beginning of the easy trail that leads you in 75m to the streambed which is the borderline.
I do a little cleaning up of the trail to help .... you!
This is where you cross the ravine/streambed

There's a risk of crossing the ravine/streambed without noticing it. But at this point, there's a

'hunting reserved' plate nailed at a tree.

From here, you can descend SW along the streambed to bm536 in 5-10 minutes, then return to this point. Then climb hence & forth 25m to bm537.

Then return to Poste 538 and proceed uphill to bm538.

I'm back at the beginning of the trail with cairn 4.
Then cairn 3 and 2 and you're allmost back at Poste538.

From Poste538 it's ± 100m NE uphill to bm538.
From bm538 onwards I follow the trail which gets white waymarked.

It bends to the right,
passes a hunter's post 538bis
and soon climbs the rocky ridge which is the borderline between bm538 and bm541.
It brings you in 300m (from bm538) to bm539
Looking forward along the ridge.

Bm540 is close and bm541 is at the end of the ridge.
After 125m (from bm539), I'm back at bm540.
Then further along the ridge on a yellow waymarked trail which


brings me along this little pond, exceptional in these dry hills.

A bit further I get to a small semi-open space from where the yellow trail brings me eastwards to
I return to the small open space.  This is a view back along the ridge.
Back at the open space which is a hunter's post.
From this semi-open space (Jan-Willem camped here on 5 april 2008) , the main trail continues N in the direction of Can d'Amunt.

But I want to try a direct descent to the Rio Major and bm542.
I enter the forest and soon the beginning of a streambed - descending NNE - appears.

Traversing the forest downhill is easier than I expected, there's not much undergrowth to struggle through.

The greater part of the descent I do on the right side of the streambed.
It takes me ± 30min to reach the Rio Major.

This picture: you can see the water already. You'll arrive at the edge of a pool.
But the final part to bm542 - going ± 50m upstream- is not that easy.

This first pool can be easily passed by circling it counter-clockwise and a little scramble.

But then, further progress  is blocked by a second waist-deep pool with a small cascade. The steep sides along the cascade make a passage tricky.

I try a detour on the right side (E) uphill but that takes me too high and is too much wrestling through the bush.

Finally I manage to get further via a ledge on the left side (W) but find it too tricky to return the same way.

Let's put it on a Google Earth-map.
Bm542 is then 20m further on the E-side of the river.
Bn542, looking downstream
Bm542, looking downstream

Returning the same way and climbing back to the hunter's post is probably the fastest way to "do" bm542 and continue to Can d'Amunt.

But - as said - that return was too tricky for me.

Then I try if the climb to the rock above bm542 on the W-side could bring me back to the streambed and up to the hunter's post.

How to get there: from bm542 go upstream, after ± 30m go right around the bend of the river and then - a little bit further - enter the bank on the W-side.

Traverse the forest for a few meters and you'll get on a trail which climbs SW to an open space upon the rock high above bm542.
I was here also on 24 may 2011. But the trail fades away and the forest gets too thick. The hillside directly towards the streambed is too steep.

So I decide to return to Can d'Amunt via the "route normal", earlier done on 18 march 2009 and 24 may 2011.
But that's not as easy as I thought.
I return to the river and work my way upstream (partly through the forest at the W-bank) for ± 300m until this point.

From the left a broad (dry) streambed descends and merges with the Rio Major. Very recognizable.

A trail will bring you along the N-side of this streambed uphill (first N, then NWW)
But: finding that path from the Rio Major climbing uphill is not obvious, the lower part being overgrown.
But I find it after some searching
and arrive at the lower end of the long grassy strip which climbs N for ± 200m.

This picture: looking back at the valley of the Rio Major.
This is the grassy strip climbing N. There's a hunter's watchtower and - as you can see - the grass gets overgrown by bush.
I'm at the top of the grassy strip and look back.
At its end, I continue on a orange waymarked trail which climbs in a curve to higher point.

I pass along hunter's post P8 and arrive 
at a sign pointing to P10-9.

I follow that direction. That's when things start to go wrong.
I arrive at an overgrown dirtroad underneath Can d'Amunt, just 200m from my car.  I was here before at 24 may 2011 and couldn't get through the blackberry. But now I have a pruning shears with me. I hope for a shortcut to my car.

I fight my way through the blackberry but have to give up, my trousers torn apart. Two other trials also fail. So I return to the sign P10-9.

From there I can find a trail bringing me to
an open spot with various signs.

These ones.

and this small one pointing to Can d'Amunt.

But beyond these signs I loose the trail, gradually descend and end up
at the Rio Major at this hunter's post P11.

Now I'm getting afraid that I can't find my way back to the dirtroad leading to Can d'Amunt and have to spend the night in the forest.

But then I remember my new smartphone with its topographical gps-maps (

It shows me that I'm just 200m away from the dirtroad uphill to the W.
I wrestle myself uphill in that direction and that brings me indeed at the dirtroad and I feel releaved.
I climb along the dirtroad to Can d'Amunt, passing at a bend this entry of the forest.

That's where we entered the forest on 18 march 2009 and 24 may 2011.
At 20.15, nearly 12 hours after my departure, back at Can d'Amunt. I'm exhausted.
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