We started our Carros de Foc trek off with a bang when we were dropped off in Espot and quickly gained 1000 meters of elevation. Trevor did a great job setting the precedent for how a backcountry leader of the day is to guide the group. He introduced us to the intricacies of backcountry travel and after only 4 hours, we arrived at our quaint little hut perched on a ridge across Estany Tort de Peguera (Tort de Peguera Lake). Our hut, Josep Maria Blanc, warmly greeted us with crocs and a delicious meal, then we made sure to get lots of rest for the next day’s hike.
We covered about 60 km over the 6 days of hiking and summited 7 passes. Madison was not afraid to converse with the other hikers along the trail and tallied up conversations in French, Spanish and German. Being the only Americans on the trek made us feel both bold and unique. Most days were strenuous, but the views were inspiring and helped us get through difficult times.
Our second day was less difficult than the first but just as rewarding. We crossed the Collada de Saburo into the National Park and descended into a boulder field with a view of another stunning crystal clear lake. Jackie took great initiative in helping others with tricky situations in the boulder field as well as other difficult spots along the trek, rarely asking for a helping hand herself. Day after day, she remained strong and positive, hiking with confidence at the front of the group.
When we arrived at our second hut, Colomina, Riley and I encouraged the group to take some alone time to reflect on the beauty of the mountains. Carson placed himself in a shallow cave by one of the lakes and found this period of solitude to be inspiring and grounding. After everyone took advantage of some relaxing time on their own, we regrouped and sat down for another typical three course Spanish meal. Ryan thoroughly enjoyed tasting and learning about traditional Spanish foods. He expressed that making it to the huts and trying new dishes were some of his favorite aspects of the trek.
Our third day of the trek, from Colomina to Estany Llong, was our longest yet. To pass the time we played guessing games while we hiked. Caitlin astounded us all with her ease and agility solving riddles and word games. Elyse was bold even through the technical parts of the hike and inspired all if us to be brave in hopping around in the unstable boulders. After losing most of the elevation we gained over the first few days, we found ourselves at the base of the mountain and prepared ourselves for the hard day ahead of us.
The fourth day of the trek was our most difficult, yet we made it from the Estany Llong hut to the Ventosa i Cavell hut without a hitch. Our leader of the day, Sellars, was paramount to the group’s success as he set a steady pace and kept the group morale high throughout the day. The high mountain pass, Collet de Contraix, stood at 2745 meters and still had several feet of snow in certain areas. Reed taught the group how to slide down the snowfields safely and demonstrated a successful self-arrest position. Jessica conquered her fear of heights and walked confidently up and down both sides of the steep pass. The group took every step with determination, made certain to support one another and arrived at our next hut in record time.
On a daily basis, Sarah lifted tired spirits with cheerful songs, which were a great distraction. Riley and I are still unsure how everyone has managed to memorize so many lyrics to songs, but we were impressed nonetheless. On our fifth and longest day, these diversions were much appreciated as hiking over 16 kilometers in 11 hours is no easy feat. Emily did an amazing job route finding from Ventosa to our final hut, Saboredo. It wasn’t easy to stick to the trail when it was covered in snow but she prevailed and led us to the smallest hut which we had to ourselves.
Although we were sad to leave the beautiful Pyrenees, we were very proud of our effort and the great distances it took us. Everyone was quite tired from two very strenuous days in a row of tough hiking but Sonora did an excellent job leading us back to civilization. With her constant smile and helpful demeanor, the group finished the trek with ease.
After six long days of hiking, a break from the trails was much needed. We recouped with an incredibly exciting day rafting down the Noguera Pallaresa river. Although it wasn’t the most relaxing rest day, it was a great change of pace and everyone had a wonderful time cruising down the river surrounded by beautiful mountain slopes. We all loved getting wet in the rapids and appreciated how our guides taught us about the Catalan language and culture.
We arrived in Chamonix today after a quick flight from Barcelona to Geneva and a short bus ride. We wandered around the historic mountain town and finished the evening with a delicious French meal. With Mont Blanc towering over us from every part of town, we are getting incredibly excited for the next hut trek and stunning views to come!
Until next time! Au revoir!