The Esera valley in the Spanish Pyrenees is a lovely place. I was there for two or three days some years ago and went back in 2013. When I first visited I hitched down the road to Camping Aneto then hitched back up again to Camping Los Banos. Hitching is peculiarly easy. There’s no obvious reason for this. I might reflect for example that nearby Benasque attracts large numbers of people of whom a good percentage are the requisite type: post hippy, communal, friendly, or kind. I have no idea if my idea is correct. In 2013 I gained a ride from a couple in an expensive black BMW who were staying at the spa mountain lodge Hospital de Benasque. They were spending more for one night than I was for an entire week. A few years ago I had a lift in a van from a group of youths with guitars and boots, and an elderly chap of about eighty years driving a noisy workhorse car with worn uncomfortable seats. On three occasions, including the BMW, my hosts drove me down to the campsite away from the road which entails a further few minutes or ten if you’re walking. I did have one bad moment last year waiting an hour when I was cold, hungry, tired, and desperate on a quiet Sunday evening. Generally however (not Sunday evening) it’s a good place for hitching. I had a lovely rest day when I slept long, sunbathed, and wandered the upper valley for photographs and wild flowers. The Esera river is beautiful and you can spend happy hours doing very little. I enjoyed the change of focus from navigating vast mountains then searching for flowers: which were plentiful. The area is also a base for big mountains, Aneto in particular, highest of all in the Pyrenees. You can’t see Aneto from the valley but you can gaze at neighbouring evocative peaks. The evening was warm but when the sun disappeared behind the peaks it became cold.

 

Pyrenees Mountain View: Esera Valley To Aneto

Thursday January 30, 2014

 
Pyrenees Mountains, Navigation, Ton Joosten's HRP Book

If you want the highest paths, the best Pyrenees views, the High Level Route is for you. That doesn’t mean you should adhere to it and at times I prefer the GR11 and occasionally use the GR10. I suspect the book which is most used for walking the Pyrenees mountains is the one by Ton Joosten about the Haute Route, or High Level Route. It was my first purchase. I then bought a few more…


 
Notes From The Mountains: Male And Female

A few years ago I read an article discussing ‘immersion’ in the hills and how women have the feeling but men don’t. It became silly with talk about the moon, water, and the ladies educating us chaps. Watch a lady swimming in the sea, one person said, and see and learn how she is emotionally enveloped. I’m going to talk about gender and the hills, not the moon and the sea. There is some truth that…


 
Pyrenees Advice: Travel, Towns, and Food

My first trip to the Pyrenees mountains was in 2007. I returned there backpacking in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. This summer I might go there for the seventh time. I’m considering a series of books, with photographs and notes from all my trips, and it seems I know something about the Pyrenees. Here’s a few notes about travel and towns. Travel There are various ways of getting to the Pyrenees. I can only talk about…


 
Notes From The Mountains: Photographic Composition And Light

Photographic composition is both an art and a science. The science part of it can be taught technically with reference to the Rule of Thirds, leading lines and the psychology of the gaze: what attracts your attention in a shot, where does your eye travel, and why? The art part of composition is more vague and nebulous because it concerns subjective feelings. Ultimately, as in art so with photography, we like what we like and there’s…


 
Notes From The Mountains: Authentic Photography And The Lake District

Difference between entertainment mountain material, and my experience mountain material. I will write about this. pic.twitter.com/WnzqSN6VPg— James Lomax (@james__lomax) February 7, 2014 I was recently struck by the above realisation. There’s a difference between writing, photography and video designed to entertain, and that which expresses something more personal and direct. Are you aiming for an audience or something more intangible? Trying to capture interest or inviting it? Serenity or action – and which is the more…


 
Notes From The Mountains: Photo, Video, Dreams

About fourteen months ago I bought a Sony RX100 for two reasons. I wanted a video tool and preferred the ergonomics of a compact camera rather than a video cam as such. I wanted a back up to my DSLR which would also serve as a useful extension for photographic work. This meant two things: a zoom range beyond my Canon L Series 17-40, and inconspicuous size useful for street photography. Any compact camera gives…


 
Eccentric Hills

Pre-dawn starts are the way to go. I knew it was going to be a good one as soon as I left the trees, the first faint traces of red backlighting gravid cloud. It peaked at 08:30 – and ten minutes later it was over. I’d seen the same thing walking through Inverness the previous morning, shifting layers of pink and red cloud lit up with pinpoint clarity; I could hardly take my eyes…


 
Robert Macfarlane, Nan Shepherd, The Cairngorms

I don’t think there’s enough poetry, philosophy, rapturous appreciation of the hills. Look at the books, and you find overwhelming emphasis on heroic battling and the claiming of summits. Look at the magazines, and you find a constrained format with a particular house style. Look at the big films and you find The White Spider, Touching The Void, Everest assaults and similar. It’s tedious. With my literary background I want a great deal more than the…


 
Cameras For Mountain Photography

I bought my first digital SLR many years ago after waiting for the quality to improve and the price to drop. It was right on the cusp of it, because prior to the Canon 10D reports suggested DSLRs were inferior to film and they were too expensive. The reason why the first sensors were cropped in size is because they were so expensive to manufacture. It was the same with full frame sensors concerning cost. Way…


 
Great Gable Cloud Inversion: A Lake District Walk

Through the summer, the landscape’s most frequent mood had been dim and gloomy. The damp air coming through the window was rich with the fragrance of rot and growth, and to the eye it had much the same shimmering dense quality as looking through a telescope. The burden of moisture in the air worked on perception as optics of poor quality do, distorting, expanding, and diminishing distance and altitude, altering the sense of mass moment…