sábado, 18 de agosto de 2018

TRANSPIRENAICA GR11 ETAPA 1: ELIZONDO - SOROGAIN

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La GR11 en principio está organizada en 44 etapas pero Marina, que se leyó, comparó y estudió todos los mapas, blogs, libros y guías habidos y por haber durante todo el mes de mayo y parte de junio, configuró nuestra propia organización incluyendo variantes y excursiones de un día que se adaptan mucho mejor a nuestra forma de caminar por la montaña y en especial a nuestros gustos. Un poco lo mismo que hizo en el Annapurna Circuit en Nepal





Debido al mal tiempo de esta primavera nos “saltamos” las dos primeras etapas oficiales de la GR11, la del Cabo de Higuer a Bera y la de Bera a Elizondo. Ya las haremos en otro momento. 




Álex nos pasó a buscar por casa de Ainara después de dejar a sus nietas en la escuela y nos llevó en coche hasta Elizondo, pueblo ahora famoso por ser el escenario de la Trilogía del Baztán, de la autora de novela de suspense Dolores Redondo.



Ya en Elizondo comenzamos a seguir las señales que nos acompañarían cada día: las dos franjas, blanca la superior, roja la inferior, que marcan una Gran Ruta (GR).



El camino comienza siguiendo el trazado de la carretera hasta que se desvía por un camino ya más rural en el que no tardamos en sufrir las consecuencias de las lluvias de este año. Caminamos durante mucho rato por caminos que se han convertido en riachuelos y, en los que por lo menos no corre el agua, se han formado barrizales que casi son arenas movedizas.




Nos adentramos en el bosque y empezamos a ascender hacia la niebla que nos acompañaría ya todo el día, igual que las bordas (casas de piedra utilizadas por cazadores como centro de reunión) y puestos elevados de caza, como atalayas, que se subastan cuando se abre la veda.




La senda entra y sale del bosque a medida que asciende y las señales son claras y fáciles de seguir hasta que la niebla se cierra tanto que no vemos nada. Afortunadamente tenemos los mapas descargados en el teléfono donde además tenemos el recorrido marcado en ViewRanger por lo que simplemente tenemos que seguir la linea de la pantalla. Si no fuese por eso igual estábamos ahora vagando por ahí, buscando las balizas del GR11.




Avanzar entre la niebla fue pesado pero el ambiente era tranquilo. Se escuchaban algunos pájaros y no hacía excesivo viento; de vez en cuando se escuchaban cencerros: a veces eran caballos, otras eran vacas y llegamos a ver también ovejas marcadas de azul y otro rebaño marcado de rojo. Los pastores deben ser del Barça.



Después del Collado de Zagua la GR11 se separa de la GR12 y baja hasta Puerto de Urkiaga, que tiene unos cuantos búnkeres de la guerra, parte de la Linea P, que parecen buen sitio para refugiarse pero no lo son.



Llegados al Puerto de Urkiaga nos quedaba el último esfuerzo, los 7 km de montaña a través del bosque siguiendo un riachuelo hasta el albergue de Sorogain, donde ya casi no había niebla.

RESUMEN DE LA ETAPA:

Fecha: 13 de junio de 2018
Hora y altitud de partida: 10:30 a 190 m
Hora y altitud de llegada: 19:15 a 830 m
Distancia: 25 km
Desnivel acumulado: +1300 / -650
Tipo de vía: Sendero por el bosque y llanura expuesta
Meteorología: Niebla
Alojamiento: Albergue de Sorogain; media pensión a 28 euros por persona


Enrique & Marina
PYRENEES TRAIL GR11 STAGE 1: ELIZONDO - SOROGAIN



The Great Route 11, Pyrenees trail or GR11 is theoretically organised in 44 stages. After doing some research, I concluded it is quite reasonable to combine a few of them and complete the trail in less than 44 days although you may want to allow rest days or side expeditions such as climbing nearby iconic mountains. I have planned a 40 day hike including rest days but not including any climbs as I am not sure how many we’ll end up doing. I am 100% that this plan will change in in many ways along the trek but I am not the kind of people who can go out before doing an accurate excel file… with the sole purpose of not following it. Also, some friends would like to join for a day or so and they need a rough idea about our timing. Besides, the plan I figured out to hike in Nepal actually worked out pretty accurately, even though it took us slightly less than we planned at the end. 



The bad weather made our two stages sank, literally. We delayed the start two days but instead of starting from Higuer we jumped to Elizondo so we were actually on time for the rest of the schedule. That means we didn’t walk the first two stages from Cape Higuer to Bera de Bidasoa and from Bera to Elizondo. Yes, you can call it cheating. So what?




Thanks to our wonderful host Álex we made it by car to Elizondo. This town of Navarra is well known as it is the location where Dolores Redondo’s thriller The Baztan Trilogy is set. Tours around the town are now organised to show the book’s fans around the village.



From Elizondo we could start following the well marked trail. Those red and while lines would become part of our life for the next two months. All Great Routes (GR) are signed in the same way so make sure you follow the right sings after two different GR meet. 



The trail follows the road for a few meters and soon after takes a gravel path clearly damaged by the heavy rains experienced over the last two days and, really, a whole wet year. We walked long hours on paths that had turned into little creeks. At least it wasn’t raining but the ground was a  gigantic mud pond with very sticky sections.




After a while, we entered a forest and ascended high enough so the fog covered the hills. The fog, like the red and white marks, would become a inseparable travel buddy. There are two more prevalent features of the trail: bordas and bird shooters’ shelters. The bordas are private mountain shelters owned by a family or some kind of association. Since they’re private they can’t be used to stay for the night along the way but they always have a tap to get water and a patio to sit down, rest and have a snack. The shelters for hunters are a different story. These are just four walls usually covered with branches for camouflage, sometimes standing on a scaffolding, sometimes on the side of the trail. Likewise the bordas, they can’t either be used to spend the night as they’re super narrow and do never have have roofs. These structures belong to the hunters association of the area and the members rent them for the season during the yearly auction. We were told that during the best seasons they used to sell them for 50.000 € per season. 




The trail goes in and out of the forest as it climbs. The marks are well taken care of and clear until the fog becomes thicker and we can’t see any further than 5 meters in front of us. Luckily, we had topographic maps and the track downloaded on our ViewRanger app, so it was easy not to get lost. Otherwise, we would probably still be there trying to find the GR11 marks. 




Hiking on the fog was tedious but it was also a still and pleasant day. We could hear the birds singing, the bells that cattle, sheep and horses wore and the water from the creeks and rivers flowing. 



After Zagua saddle the GR11 brakes from the GR12 and gets down to Urkiaga Pass where you can see many bunkers built after the Spanish Civil war. They were part of the defensive system of the Pyrenees where many people hid escaping from Franco’s prosecution. Now, back to the current times, these bunkers might sound like a great place to camp but they are not. They seemed pretty clean when we were there, which is fantastic, but the heavy rain turned them more into a little pond/swimming pool rather than a cosy and dry space to bivouac. 



Regardless, our plan was to walk for 7 more km to Sorogain. We did a little last push through the forest, crossing the river a few times and walking over the muddy path and down to the hostel where most of the fog was gone.

STAGE OVERVIEW:

Date: June 13, 2018
Start time and altitude: 10:30 at 190 m
Finish time and altitude: 19:15 at 830 m
Distance: 25 km
Cumulative elevation gain/loss: +1300 / -650
Type of track: Forest track and exposed crest 
Weather on the day: Foggy
Accommodation: Albergue de Sorogain, 28€ bed, shower, dinner and breakfast. 


Enrique & Marina

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