The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all my trips
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- friday 28 july 2017 -
Exploring routes bm228-233, luxurious wild camping

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Summary: part of 13 day-trips in the Pyrenees, covering various targets from the Basque country up to Llivia.

Today: trying a new route between bm229 and 230 and checking the variant via 232.

Weather: splendid
Trip 1 Bm228-229

(click to open this trip in Google Earth or copy link to Google Maps; click right on this link to download gpx-version). The gps-track has not been manually  corrected which explains the inaccuracy and misalignment at some points. For cartographic backgrounds: see the cartography-page
According to Google Earth: 8,2km, max-height 1358m, min-height 934m, elevation: +684m -685m

Start 11:49 Finish 15:17
The day started drizzling, I visit Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and then decide to drive to the camping in Larrau.
On the hills it's quite foggy but when I descend to the D18, the skies have cleared and I drive to the end of the D18 to give it a try. And there the sun shines!
I see that there is a red-white waymarked trail leading up the borderridge. That could be a better alternative than the descent from Col d'Oraaté on the tarmac road. And it is.
The first few 100 meters are steep climbing but well manageable
I enter the forest on a well path cq forest road and the elevation becomes less.
It's a nice walk in a really silent  forest.
It joins with the tarmac road just before the tarmac road ends at Col d'Oraaté.
Looking back to where the forest road meets the tarmac road.
Red-white waymark
Lost toilet
At Col d'Oraaté it's foggy and it no use to proceed from here to bm227.

But there's another option I want to try: is it possible to descend from bm229 down the steep forest side to the red/white-trail: that would make the variant 228-229 not a hence & forth trip from bm227 but in fact a short-cut.
I return to the red/white trail, entering the forest.
A bit further this bifurcation.

I take the right one and establish with my gps the right spot to climb the steep forest side and that's no problem.
I arrive at bm229
From bm229 I follow
various cattle tracks
to bm228.

Further on - towards bm227 and Col Curutxe it's still foggy. Too foggy for good pictures of bm227.
Bm228, looking back

I return to bm229: climbing on cattle trails towards the ridge and continuing beneath it but not too close.

At one point you can spot the top of bm229 just before a sort of pass where you can climb to the ridge.
From the ridge I descend in NE-direction
back along the forest hillside to the red/white trail.

Note: there is a forest track/road in between to pass, ± 30m before you arrive
at the forest track which is the red/white trail.
This picture: the trail is about to leave the forest.
The waymarking has been well but you have to be careful when the trail leaves the forest.
About 50m further you have to turn right and take a path through the fern.
A red/white cross warns a bit further but it's not obvious to see where the path enters the fern.

Panorama-view with an indication of bm230
Almost back at the caar.

I'm content. Coffee-break at the car.
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)

According to Google Earth: 11,7km, max-height 1147m, min-height 904m, elevation: +649m -650m
Start 15:56 Finish 19:55).
Main goal: testing the variant via bm232, not fully done yet.

Beyond the bridge you arrive
after 250m at this spot.

I redo bm230 which is down the roadside.
The beech tree where to descend is still a well landmark.
The upper part of the descent/climb is a bit slippery with loose stones.
Bm230 downhill
Double markers: pillar and cross
Climbing back to the road.

Further on, there is sort of parking and I discover that
from that parking, there is a new touristic trail
leading nicely through the forest to bm331
with this bifurcation from which the branches melt together again later on. If you take the left one
you will pass this replica of how in the old forestry days, logs were transferred with a cable system.
Approaching the spot of bm231
behind this log.
I keep following the trail-waymarks.
There is now a footbridge built and the trail
brings you easy uphill to the forest road.
Turn left and follow the forest road in its windings
until - after 2,5 km - there is this end of it.
In fact it continues uphill in a rough form but this is the spot where you have to leave the forest road
towards bm232 which is then about 100 meters away to the E along the stream (now dry) at your left hand.
There are traces of a trail and some yellow waymarks at the the trees but not like on
Vague traces of a trail.
Be attentive not to miss bm232.

This picture: I have followed the main streambed a bit too far.
The bm stands at the confluence of a side stream (also dry now, which becomes the borderline to bm233) and the streambed I have been following.
Another view of that sidestream(bed)
Close-up with bm232
From bm232 I go about 20m upstream (borderstream) and then climb in NE-direction along a hill-ridge. There are remains of a fence and also traces of a trail.
Proceeding to the road is in fact easy.
Once at the road it's several km back on the winding road with this source/stream in between.
Almost back at the parking spot.

I want to check the already "old" descent to bm231
which merges downhill with the new touristic trail.
The new trail is a lot nicer and means hardly or no more distance.

I could even divert the main route to pass along bm231 and then climb to the dirt road.

This picture: the log with behind it bm231.
I return on the new trail. This is the bifurcation on the other side. To the right is to the replica of the forestry installation.
Back at the dirtroad I spot this monument
remembering the
charcoal-furnaces in the 19th century.

At 8pm back at the car. I already decided to try a 'wild camp' at this spot. Once installed, two forest rangers appear in a car but they drive away with no comment. This is wild camping 2.0: with chair, table, mug of wine, laptop, car. The only thing I miss is wifi and an electric socket.

And while the darkness covers the place, the silence sets in. The cow-bells starve and only the sound of the stream and sometimes a wood owl can be heard. Magical.
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