Kilometres walked: 14km / Total distance: 445km / Elevation gain: 973m/ Elevation loss: 848m / Time walked: 4h46min
I say goodbye to Ernesto & Jan in front of the refugio. My two adoptive fathers, we joke. Another trail goodbye, we are taking different routes today. I’ll follow the official GR11, which is longer, less pretty, and with more elevation change. They take a shorter, more scenic, and flatter variant.
There are several reasons for this: I have a booking at the next refugio (made before weather messed up the plans and then changed to one day later, but already paid for) and the short route would only take 2,5 hrs to get there. I need to be in Espot in only two days, where I’ll take a bus to meet Antonio (yay!) so I’m not in a hurry, and the shorter route overlaps with the route I’ll be walking with Antonio, so this way I don’t have to do it twice.
I hike down from the refugio in the company of a father and two sons, 8 and 10, and they all have lots of questions. Where do I sleep? What do I carry? How heavy is my pack? What do I eat? Did I see any animals? Am I afraid? I answer all of them. (Tent or huts, only the basics, around 11 kg including food, lots of tortillas and couscous, chamois and marmots and lots of birds, sometimes)
Slip and Fall
The way down and then up is on an easy gravel road, except for the last few hundred vertical meters to the pass. I have a long lunchbreak on a rock with view on the lake below. The ascent is easy and I stop every few hundred meters to pick raspberries from the side of the trail. Not many people take this route, it’s a little bit overgrown in places, but that just means more berries for me.
The descent down the other side is via easy switchbacks on a steep grassy slope. South facing, the sun is burning, and it’s really really dry. I try to make pace, and that’s a mistake. I slip on a patch of long, dry grass and land firmly on my butt. (Seriously, of all the boulderfields and rocks and scramble bits and treeroots I slip on GRASS?!) One leg sticking out in front of me, the other one folded awkwardly beneath me. I stand up and I’m okay, except for a pulled muscle somewhere in my hip or thigh of the folded leg. Walking is just fine, but the leg feels a bit weak and wobbly, and the next day will feel like I had a single-legged legday in the gym.
A bit more slowly, with a bit more care I continue to Refugio Colomers where I arrive half an hour later. I’m early, so spend the afternoon rinsing my clothes, reading, talking to other hikers and playing with the resident dog, a border collie who knows exactly how she gets people involved in her game and then outsmarts them.