The transition day
What do normal people do when they get back home after 10 days of hiking in Iceland? Throw themselves into a soft bed? Have a shower? Eat a huge steak?
Well, we are not normal (if you haven’t noticed by now)! Thus, after a long overnight flight back to Spain, we went home only for a couple of hours to repack our backpacks, have a super quick shower (this is as normal as we get 😊) and hit the road again. Direction – North (kind of a tradition for this year).
It took us almost 5 hours of driving to get to the north of Spain, almost to the boarder of France where Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park lays high in Pyrenees. Even the long summer evenings didn’t leave us much time to put a tent in a camping and set out for a dinner in a lovely village of Torla. Ok, now we can get normal… Pizza time!
A bit tired after such intensive vacations in Iceland and even more intensive transition day, we decided to take an easy hike to look around the area, that starts right at our camping.
Of course, there was a but coming! After being spoiled with technology in Iceland where we could pay with a credit card even in the tiny mountain huts, we faced the archaic reality of Spain – always have cash with you! No cash – no bread. Nor morning coffee. And setting out for a full day in the mountains without any supplies nor breakfast is not very wise to say the least.
Thus, we started our morning with an extra 3 km (1,5 km each way) walking to Torla for cash, fresh bread and some jam. And of course, a late morning coffee. With such a pace we started our real hike closer to lunchtime. But it’s a calm, relaxing day after all. No hurries.
We took a hike on Camino de Turieto. It started by the river next to our camping and very soon got us into the mountains through an enchanted forest. I couldn’t describe it in any other way. The mossy ground, rocks and trees, together with the sounds of birds and sun beams created this magical feeling. And what a relief hiking without our jumbo backpacks and wearing a t-shirt!!! I close my eyes and I can actually feel it with all my senses even though few months have passed by now.
Our hike took us through the mountain forests up to the valley of Ordesa, where we planned to start our hike the day after. It wasn’t a difficult hike and we lost track of time and kilometers quite soon.
After refreshing our feet in the ice-cold river and having our very late lunch, we turned back returning mainly on the same trail, with some detours getting closer to the river and the waterfalls.
By the time we were back in the camping our tracker was showing 19 km count with 770 meters of ascent and descent. Yet we still had some energy left for a second visit to Torla for a proper dinner in a restaurant. After eating dried food for 10 days in Iceland it was something we really missed.
All in all, km count of the day summed up to 25. Not bad for a relaxing day.
You can check or download our trail GPX file here –> click click click 🙂
When you arrive to Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park you are immediately stunned by the majesty of these expressive mountains. The next thought that comes to your mind is how the f* you climb them?? These mountains look like huge walls raising straight from the bottom of a valley with no visible paths.
When thinking about this destination for our extension of the holidays we saw some really crazy photos of mountain climbing in the area. No way a person with vertigo could do that! We explored well the maps and asked for advices in every place we could to choose our route for a second day wisely and not end up in a dangerous situation. Yet, we left the camping in the morning with some uncertainty and anxiousness about what this day would bring us.
To get to the starting point we had to take a bus from Torla as you can’t enter this National Park with your car in summer season. We left fairly early to avoid long queuing for the bus and crowds of hikers on this popular trail. A short bus drive and we parked in the valley of Ordesa where many trails start.
We chose a circular route for today taking us through the trails of Senda de los Cazadores, Cola de caballo, pradera de Ordesa. This route has a very uneven ascent/descent distribution. You can do it either by a very soft and long ascent and then quick and difficult descent, or vise versa.
We chose to start our hike with a difficult ascent (800 vertical meters in just 2,5 km of hike) and then enjoy our day basically going down.
The path started with a sign “Caution: dangerous path” which only raised our level of anxiousness. The ascent itself was quite tough but nothing out of this world. It was zigzagging very quickly up through a forest and all you could see was basically the path beneath your feet. What worried us more was what kind of path we would find up there. The mountain above the tree line looked like a straight wall, which could only mean that the path would be very exposed. We were so nervous that we climbed up in less than an hour and a half, while normally this section is done in 2-2,5 hours. We even overtook a group from a previous bus that arrived half an hour earlier.
The views up there were spectacular. Even though exposed, the path always had quite a safe width to feel comfortable. No more worries. Time to enjoy this gorgeous mountain!
Half of this wonderful path goes in the mountain where you can enjoy splendid views. Once you reach a waterfall called “Cola de caballo” (tail of a horse) it’s time to turn around and walk all the way down the river. This park has a surprising number of waterfalls for such a dry country as Spain. For a moment we felt like back in Iceland on the first day of a hike! Except much warmer! 😊
Even though the path was easy after we’ve done the initial climb, it was a lengthy hike and I started having issues with my ankle soon after we reached the turning point. Nevertheless, our hike back included some “shortcuts” on tiny paths that were more challenging and exciting than walking on a wide trail full of tourists. This side of the route (the easy side) was crowded compared to the trail that takes you up in the mountain.
Quite tired we reached the parking lot (and a restaurant to have a drink) with a total count of 22 km. No GPX file this time because our tracker got some data messed up.
Once we arrived back to Torla it was still fairly early. Enough time to walk back to the camping, have a shower and get ready to go out for a nice dinner again. We didn’t walk enough yet today!!!!
Walking back at night to our “home” we decided that enough is enough. 53 km in just two days were feeling hard on our feet. The weather forecast was showing thunderstorms the following day and we didn’t feel like getting all wet and cold again. It was time to go home…
The quest of the Iron Throne
Ok, now this wasn’t something you would expect from us, I guess. But we did like the series Game of Thrones a lot and we knew that there was an Iron Throne hidden somewhere in Spain. I even suspected where… and surprise surprise, it was more or less on our way back home, just a small detour. So, we planned our trip with a stop in a middle of nowhere. Literally.
All excited we left the car not far from an old fortress, which was one of the filming places (the scenes of the Tower of Joy) for this popular series. The fortress was really an impressive construction clearly standing out in this landscape, but… there was no Iron Throne anywhere around it. We walked for about an hour admiring the tower from all possible sides until we had to admit – we will not find the Iron Throne here. Not today.
Oh well, everything, even holidays, sooner or later come to an end. Those were some great holidays we had and the memories of which keep us worm now in the cold days of December…