11/29/14 Straight from the airport to Arinsal, Andorra for a quick hike/run as far as I could get up Como Pedrosa, the highest peak in Andorra.
1 The small town of Arinsal, Andorra, a classy and quaint ski village North of Andorra de Vella. Together with flight delays, I had just flown 17 hours from Los Angeles, barely making my connecting flight, and did not sleep a wink on the plane. After pulling the all-nighter, I landed, rented a car, and made the 4 hour drive straight to Arinsal and then hopped on the trail.
2 Ski season hadn't started yet or else the town probably would have been really crowded. Driving here was an adventure. I had quite a bit of trouble navigating through the tiny villages and their roundabouts. I don't know how many times I got off on the wrong exit. It's easy when the outlet is marked with a recognizable city name or a highway number. But when it's only the name of a little village that isn't even on the map, I was just happy to come out heading in the right general direction. It took longer than I had hoped, but I did eventually make it.
3 The trail towards Como Pedrosa is great from the very beginning. Here I scramble out to a nice little cascade. I actually had my worst wipeout of the trip here. The light rain that was falling made the rocks everywhere extremely slick. I was just thinking to myself "don't do anything stupid, you know how slick these rocks can get". Before I could even complete my thought, I was flat on my back. I nearly knocked the wind out of myself, had a nasty bruise in the middle of my back, and tore my new wind shell jacket.
4 Ribal waterfall, a beautiful cascade.
5 Waterfalls are always nicer with a little sound and motion.
For best performance, you can view the video on YouTube.
6 Climbing out of the valley. I had picked this trail without knowing much of anything about it. I wasn't sure it would be worth the long drive, but it turned out to be a great trail.
7 This trail is part of the GR11, the equivalent of the PCT on the Iberian pennisula. It goes from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The more well known GR10 does the same thing on the French side. Same as in Israel, trails are marked with painted stripes in different colors depending on the trail.
8 I love foreign trail signs! Note that this sign is Catalain in not Spanish. I mistakenly thought Catalan was just a dialect of Spanish. It's actually an entirely different (though similar) language.
9 Heavy snow on a cirque in the distance. Cirques are semi-circular areas carved out by glaciers and are pretty common in the Pyrenees.
10 A roaring cascade being funneled through a narrow gorge. It's loud and impressive in person.
11 Almost to the end of the Valls (Valley) de Como Pedrosa. The Cascada (Waterfall) starts almost on the pinnacle on top of the ridge and then cascades all the way down the valley.
12 Looking back towards the snow capped peaks above the Arinsal valley.
13 It's starting to rain heavier now, and I lose several pictures to a fogged-up camera lens. I wish they made a ruggedized version of my new camera!
14 There's water everywhere, and I'm getting close to the snow line now at around 2,100m (7,000'). The whole valley is filled with the roar of the cascades. Very reminiscent of the Tetons.
15 The trail gets steep and follows alongside the cascades, steep enough in places to almost become a true waterfall.
16 Top of the cascade and into the valley above.
17 Looking back at the creek spilling over the edge into the valley below. The snow is starting to get thick along the trail. There's still a light rain and the temperature is just above freezing.
18 View of the Coma Pedrosa. It's still almost 600m (2,000') above me. I wish I had enough time to summit. But the long drive, combined with getting lost on the way to Andorra, means I don't have quite enough time today.
19 The trail crosses the creek and continues on out of the valley. Normally, I woudn't be too worried about coming down in the dark, but the middle of nowhere in Andorra is probably not the place to press my luck. This would have to mark my turnaround point for the day.
20 It's almost completely dark as I get back to the hotel in town. Perfectly timed. Food, sleep and then a long drive in the morning to the French side of the Pyrenees.