The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all my trips
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- tuesday 8 september 2015 -
Charles Darrieu: mountain guide and porter

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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 10-days trip to the Pyrenees, mainly meant as a reconnaissance for the GRPdesBf. This day is one of a week of backpacking from Guzet-Neige to Puigcerdą, traversing Andorra.

Today: after being dropped by Charles in the mountains beyond Guzet-Neige, I climb to bm424 and traverse to bm425 and then continue S to Pla de Boavi.

Weather: clear skies, sunny
For explanation of the gps-coordinates and other cartographic backgrounds: see the cartography-page

The gps-track has not been manually  corrected which explains the inaccuracy and misalignment at some points.

- 16,9 km
- max H = 2453m
- elevation gain: 1015m
- time: 11.49h

Started at 7.45 , break 13:15 - 14:00, finish at 19:30 = 11h net walking time

According to Gps-Track-Analyse

- distance : 17.8 km
- cum. elevation gain : 1741m
- cum. elevation loss : 2078m
- total elevation: 3818m

- altitude maxi : 2466m
- altitude mini : 1471m
- altitude average : 1925m
I spent the night at the house of Charles Darrieu who dropped me in the early morning in the mountains.
That's me, ready for a week of backpacking. According to Charles: packed like a mule.
Charles guides me through the first part in the direction of the borderridge.

This is one of two steep descents, luckily aided by iron grips.
Looking back at that rocky descent.
This is in fact the backyard of Charles who moves easily and self-assured over this kind of terrain.
We are approaching the border-ridge but
there's still some rock-climbing to do when we loose the trail.

Charles - in his seventies - takes over my backpack and dances over the rocks like an 'isard'. I admire Charles.
This is about where we part.
A last picture of me by Charles and a view of the approximate route ahead.

There's a cabin around here.
There's no waymarking but
cairns guide me

This is a view back.
When getting close to the ridge, the cairns disappear or I losse them.

But it's not difficult to proceed to the ridge which is now (this picture) close.

Standing at the ridge and looking SE towards Port de Sounou (bm424). As you can see, the terrrain is easy to travers to the Port.
Getting closer to Port de Sounou (this is a zoomin)
Getting nearer.

Indicated: how to proceed beyond bm424 towards bm425.
Bm424 is engraved on this rock and can be difficult to find.
But this is the backside of bm424 and you can spot an iron pole on the rock nearby.

That will make locating easier.
Bm424 with some chalk.
Bm424, looking towards France
Bm424, looking NW where I came from.
Bm424, now seen from the iron pole.
Zoom-in of previous picture
And a last view of the Port with its rocky descent into France.
From the Port, looking S-SW
Now proceeding SE to the ridge from where I can traverse to Port de Guillou (bm435)
Getting closer
and closer.

Now I'm just across the ridge and looking NEE to Port de Guillou where bm425 is.

There's no trail or waymarking and you have to proceed by trial and error over the terrain from one grassy strip to another towards the Port. But it's not difficult.
Getting closer
and closer.

The large boulder in the middle of the Port is the carrier of bm425
The boulder seen from the other side with bm425 engraved.
From the Port looking into France
Bm425 with a view along the mountain slope where I came from.

I have a break here, feasting on the lunch which Charles gave me.
Looking S towards two lakes, I start to descend towards them.

There's no trail or waymarking but the descent is easy.

On my way down, this view NW of the mountain slope whit the approximate route I did to traverse the mountainslope.
In the valley and looking back at Port de Guillou.
A stream starts in the valley.

I climb over the small hill
and red waymarks appear
which bring me

to the barrage-lake of Laguna Romedo de Baix
with the barrage in view now.

To continue along the stream to Pla de Boavi, I don't have to cross the barrage.
but I want to check a rocky passage at the S-side of the lake.
This is that rocky passage, secured by a cord, which I remember as not being easy.
When you follow the GRPdesBF main route (and skip the variant doing bm424 and 425) you need to use this passage.

This picture: on top of that passage and looking NW where the main route comes from.
This picture: on top of the passage and looking downhill.

In fact it's not difficult to descend along the cord when you take your time.

Note the red/white waymarks: probably the cross-frontier GR using Port de l'Artigue.
Back at the barrage.

At the other side is the meetingpoint of the main trail of the GRPdesBF and the variant doing bm424-425 (the blue dotted line). That's the end of stage 36.

From that meeting point, the next stage starts. It descends along the stream.
From the N-side of the barrage I proceed E, then S descending along the stream.

There's a vague trail
and now and then cairns to help you.

There's one small steep descent but manageable.
The stream gets gradually a bit larger
while the trail sometimes has to climb to avoid steep parts along the stream.
Then you have to get attentive. At some point you have to cross the stream.

But where? Well, not here, but further downstream.
The crossing is at this point. It's at a kind of pond in the stream.
You can spot cairns at the other side.
Looking back: the 'pond' and the small cascade which feeds it.

This is a quite characteristic spot and you shouldn't miss it as such.
The cairns first guide me uphill to this point and then through the forest to Pla de Boavi.

BUT: although there's an abundance of cairns in the forest, I loose the trail and have a hard time finding it back.

ADVISE: walk from one cairn to the next, each time remembering where the previous one is. As said: there are a lot of cairns and the next one can never be far away.
Finally, I arrive at Pla Boavi but first coming along (but not crossing) this footbridge.
Pla de Boavi, a perfect spot for a bivouac. It has been a long but nice day.

It's already late and it darkens quickly, animal sounds startle me. I realize that the absence of cattle with their ringing bells has made it a quiet and serene day.

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