You can reach this area from a bus down in the Esera valley or from Benasque. It’s a stunning place overlooked by the Maladeta massif and the route up to Aneto on one side; on the other side you find a path climbing up the hill, passing through Portillon de Benasque, crossing the border into France which then leads to Luchon. The view here is back to the Esera valley. I’ve travelled through this area twice by bus and hitching. Both times I’ve noticed how enticing it is but, simultaneously, how you feel impelled to continue to the Renclusa refuge before striking up to Aneto or on this occasion crossing back to France. The Pyrenees are like this. There’s so much to choose from and you inevitably choose the highest, best, most dramatic, but in doing so you notice numerous areas it would be pleasant to explore. I stood at the end of the road above Camping Los Banos waiting for the bus. A couple were there with two small children. The boy kicked the dust around which floated towards me. The father told him not to do it. His older sister watched him with a child’s motherly manner born of gender. She watched me, curious to see me eating, with a rucksack, and with a foreign aura. The father disrobed and lifted the boy for some bodily function I didn’t want to witness. I had a plastic bag full of breakfast: bread, cheese, and a banana. I ate as much as I could on the bus then finished eating before setting off. A young attractive couple came up the road and I wondered from what point they’d departed. I asked a family group if I was taking the correct path. I realised, not for the first time, I knew more than they did. They were tourist walkers not backpackers. There’s a difference between map knowledge and social advice. This is about forty minutes into the walk. The time was about 11 in the morning.


Pyrenees Mountains: Near Besurta

Wednesday February 5, 2014