I’ve descended the Ara valley twice. The first time it was part of a self made route starting at Cauterets, walking up to Le Vignemale, then down here to Bujaruelo. It’s a good crossing into Spain to explore the Ordesa canyon which is what I did a few days later.

This shot is from 2013 walking the Spanish GR11. I’d slept at Panticosa and this was the latter part of the day. There was a large icy river which originated further up the valley, probably as melt water from Le Vignemale. I’d ignored my thirst for too long and bathed and drank from my mug three or four times.

It was lovely descending again to the lower Ara valley above Bujaruelo. It’s a pretty area of trees, flowers, grass, and a beautiful river. Spain tends to be barren but with good water the hot conditions lead to abundant greenery.

Bujaruelo is a favourite of mine. The food at the refuge is good, the staff are fun and friendly, the camp site comfortably large with good showers. It’s a fine place to rest for a day or two which is what I did. When I asked about food a chap teased the young girl serving me. Walnuts were sex fruit, he said, as she laughed and struggled with the English translation. It was the same cheese and nut salad I’d had before.

From Bujaruelo you can walk down to Torla. It’s a good base for the Ordesa canyon, the Goriz hut, and a return to France through the Breche de Roland. I’m not too keen on Ordesa. It’s beautiful but different to a mountain experience. In 2013 I found bus connections to Parzan where I walked to Viados, Estos, and Benasque. The first day to Viados was unpleasant with thickening rain, deepening cold, and winter conditions. I considered sleeping at a small hut but decided walking would warm me and conditions would improve downhill.

As in 2010 the final road walk was horribly exhausting. As in 2010 I slept in the little hut outside the Viados refuge for a quiet solitary sleep. The dormitories are small, popular, cramped, and unsettling. I don’t know how people switch from normal bedtime habits to the hut experience. It’s not something I can do, which means a night as if ten people are with me in my bedroom at home.


Pyrenees Mountain Photography: Ara Valley to Vignemale

Thursday May 14, 2015