Pyrenees 2004: Barroude to Benasque
A short walk from the Barroude hut and we crossed the border into Spain once more. The weather was warm and clear and the paths easy to follow. We continued along the HRP down the mountainside over 1000 vertical metres to a tiny village called Parzan. The best thing in Parzan was the cafe at the petrol station. We filled ourselves with chorizo baguettes and beer.
A hostal rural in the village cost €35 for the night for a room for the three of us. We booked in and immediately took turns in the shower, washing ourselves and our socks.
The next day we continued along the HRP towards the Lago de Urdizeto which turned out to be a busy, disappointing reservoir. The road to the lake was dusty, winding and steep. We didn’t stay long at the reservoir, we ate lunch and continued downhill to the refugio de Biados.
The last few kilometres of the walk were hard. We’d run out of water and the day was hot. The final climb to the refuge was exhausting. We arrived at the hut, collapsed to the ground then drank litres of water before finding the (very grumpy) warden and booking in for the night.
We got our first experience of a Pyrenean thunder storm that night. Flashes of lightning illuminating the dorm and thunder booming through the hills. Looking out of the window we saw bolts of lightning striking the Posets massif.
Our next destination was the Estos hut, only another 10km or so further on. The walk started in good weather but a storm broke as we approached a high pass. Quickly donning our waterproofs we moved as fast as we could over the ridge, through the closing thunder. Descending into the next valley the weather improved and the waterproofs put away.
Daz walked on ahead of us and was soon out of sight. Helen and I arrived at the hut after a few hours expecting to see him propping up the bar but there was no sign. We asked the staff ‘have you seen a bald Englishman?’ but they hadn’t. We bought cokes and sat on the verandah to enjoy the view. Way down below us a familiar figure appeared. It looked up towards us and we waved. Daz had missed the path and descended too low! We didn’t laugh too much when he arrived.
Another night in another hut and we were ready for our final day in the mountains. We took the GR11 path down the mountains to Benasque, described in the guidebook as ‘the fleshpots’. We didn’t see much evidence of that but there were several nice bars, a good campsite and a bus station.
After a night on a commercial campsite we packed for the final time and went to the bus station and bought a ticket for Zaragoza, the nearest town of any size.