Andorra to Salardu/Vielha



Not having slept enough for last few nights, including one at Barcelona airport, we opted for a very short hike in the afternoon from Arinsal to the first unmanned hut, Refugio del Pla del Estany. Fortunately, the rain has stopped and after lunch and some shopping in Andorra la Vella (great folding 2l bottles and gaiter for trail runners) we caught bus and started hiking at 4 pm. Hut was less than 2 hours march and it looked awsome. Typical of Andorra, from rocks, tidy and bit cold. Great spot for catching up on much needed sleep.
Our first hut in Andorra, very stylish

Refugio Baiau

We were woken up by first day hikers, around 9 am. No need to hurry up as we planned to go over only one pass to the next hut as we felt we need more time to recover. I just love hut system in Pyrenees! Sunny, but as we got higher, there was more snow on the trail. Right time to test our waterproof socks. Thanks to them we managed hiking also in these snowy conditions in our trail runners. We entered the hut Baiau as snow started to fall. Container hut for 9 people, just for us that night. A bit cold, but bottle with hot water inside the sleeping bag made its magic. Really nice atmosphere, but cannot imagine camping in such weather.
Hiking in snow? Like it so far

Snow makes everything more beautiful

Baiau, lovely hut, in Spain

Refugio Baborte

Sunny morning made it easier to get out of the hut. But still, it was freezing. Hiking in snow was very nice, fortunately there were no steep sections. At around 2000 metres snow started to disappear. We even met few hikers in opposite direction. We passed by Vallferrera hut, where we could have slept comfortably as it is manned hut. But I am happy that we managed so far without any services. Let's see for how long... Ascend to the Baborte valley was ok, just the section around the shore of the lake was bit scary for me, I felt I could easily slip into the lake.
Snow and sun, great combination

It is not just me enjoying snow

Lovely Baborte hut


Four Spanish guys joined us at 10pm in the hut, but they were really respectful. They even cooked outside. We didn't want to wake them in the morning, but at 9 am we finally decided to get up. It was bit snowing, path to the saddle was quite evident, but lower we went, it was more rain then snow. A little bit of nice weather when passing through Pla de Boavi, which seemed more like a city park and would be great place to camp. We opted for marked ascend to Certascan (guidebook suggests wilderness walk) and it was good choice, especially in the rain. Certascan hut was closed, but the winter room was available. As we learned from Ramon, each hut needs to leave some room accessibe throughout whole year. Good to know. It was raining all night.
Snowing again

Pla de Boavi, more like park. No rain

Snowing, raining or sunshine?

Mont Roig

Freezing morning, hands in wet gloves suffer the most. But human body is a great heater and soon, also thanks to the sun, everything is dry. Ascend to the col (pass) is demanding as the rocks are icy and snowy. We still manage to find some dry route. Other side is under snow, but it is quite safe to walk on it. Long descend to small hamlet of Noarre and then long ascend to the Mont Roig hut. Always up and down. Little cabana in the middle is very cute but we continue higher. Tomorrow is a day of 3 saddles, so we need to get as close as possible. This time we have to share small container hut with 4 French guys, none of them feels like speaking English.
Another freezing morning
Snow on the other side of the pass

Lovely cabana, would be nice to spend night there

Almost at the hut

Almost Airoto hut

We were ready before the sun rise and had to wait 15 min to start hiking as there was still dark. First two saddles were easy, last one was bit steep on our ascent and bit difficult for navigation. No markings, no cairn, no path. Descend to Alos dIsil was very long and lower we got more hot it was. Down in the village (nice houses, but almost empty) it was 30 degrees on the sun. It was too hot for me and ascending via difficult terrain (too many paths, which one is correct) cost me a lot of energy. We decided to camp under the pass, by the lake. We took water from spring (first we saw here in Pyrenees) and enjoyed views of karst mountains around. Felt like on Via Dinarica ;)
Nice lake for swim?

Karst mountains, feeling like on Balkan

View from the campsite, Mont Roig

Tuc Tuc (ridge walking)

This section was supposed to be difficult (navigation, boulders...) so we decided to make it even harder. Instead of scrambling on boulders in the valley, we climbed much longer ridge. In such great weather it was super, wouldn't like to be there in rain/wind. Some sections were really scary - steep grass and loose rocks. Then we decided to continue with valley variant direction Port la Bonaigua. So we don't have to descend all way down to Salardu, but stay up. Once on the road (next morning) we hitched to Viehla - first car driving by took us!
Our ridge

Climbing down from Tuc Bonabe

Out ridge again

Deserved relax in the lake

Viehla - rest day

Havimg arrived before 10 am we had plenty of time for relax. Bought gas, hotel and had good meal. Also shopping was fine. Unfortunately hotel refused to do our laundry, sent us to some lavaderia. One was closed, other too busy and would charge 20 euros! So we spent evening handwashing the most critical pieces of our clothes... Next time I will choose hotel according to laundry service. Plus I managed to delete one of my blog posts from Via Dinarica. I found it in history, but it will take time to repost it. Writing on mobile is so painful, especially inserting pictures. We have bus at 11 am so it will be pretty late start.