And so I started my trekking tour from the west of the Pyrenees. But essential for this direction of walking was the fact that the West-Pyrenees ascents with lower hills and mountains than in the east, where you have to climb 1000 meter of ascent already the first 35 kilometers.

I would prefer basically this direction from west to east, because it is a very good feeling to walk from cooler to warmer regions. The argument it would be more pleasant to go from east to west since you have not to walk against the sun, is in my opinion not so important, because the trail mostly lies in the shadow of the mountains during the morning. In addition the GR 11 path don´t go always straight ahead and moreover since the early afternoon you have the sun in the back.

Only the 23 Prahm maps 1:40 000 I carried about with me and 2 Rando maps 1:50 000 from the Spanish Central Pyrenees and also some cutted map areas 1:300 00 from Marco Polo.

Hello Friends,

At the end of july 2013 I got back to the Lake of Constance from a great hiking tour across the Spanish Pyrenees from Atlantic to the Mediterranean See, more exactly on the long distance walking trail GR 11. I was wealthy and inspired of wonderful and extraordinary adventures, of which I give you here some picture.

With my last greetings I requoted Hape Kerkeling´s words "I´m Off Then" because I didn´t know where I would hike exactly in the Pirenees. It should be an adventurous trekking with doing sports and having nice experiences.

Now then, my trekking trip through the Pyrenees from about 800 km on 47 pure walking days couldn´t be more adventurous and sportive. With the weight of my backpack from 18 to 20 kg, also depending from food and water, and very steep ascents in forests, rocks and gravel tracks with a difference in altitude of 1600 m required a great deal of fitness which I haven´t got at the begin.

It was a good interaction among the Cicerone guide and the Prahmes maps. There is almost something like an order of orientation. The first and most important is to look at the white red markings. The GR 11 trail is in general good marked and has high priority. Since sometimes it happened that the real path differs to my guide and also to my map.

You wouldn´t think that it is possible to fail a marked trail but always looking to this signs you become tired over time. Sometimes deep in thoughts I failed to notice the marking. A look on the map, if neccessary a GPS determination of the position and a compass bearing established clarity.

I took the aid of the guide only when I would inform me about the remaining distance and time of walking. Possible campsites I looked spontaneously for.

The big advantage of the Prames maps was the exact presentation how to go through villages and towns if there was a bad marking.

The end of may I gone up with my car at Figueras near of the Costa Brava in the North of Spain. There I visited the famos Dali museum, got along for camping and made some inquiries about the coastline of Cap Creus. Unfortunately in this time thick clouds were hanging about the Costa Brava and sometimes it was raining too. However two times in the morning there was fine weather with a blue sky and sunshine. I took my little backpack and made trips along the coast to Port Selva and Cap Creus.

Here you can see the quay of Porte Selva, where fisherman dry their ropes and fishing nets.

8 o´clock in the morning. In Vera de Bidasoa I would drink a coffee and take a breakfast if possible. But this little town was deep sleeping under a dense blanket of clouds.

The Cabo Higuer! Here the long distance walking-trail GR 11begins. This little path winds through the Spanish Pyrenees about 500 miles to the Mediteranean See. I was fascinated by this imagination.

The following day I left Irun with great euphorias and a big backpack with food for two days. That was the beginning of my trekking through the westside of the Spanish Pyrenees. This is a landscape of lower mountain ranges and ridges with a moderate climate often moisty but not very cold. Always up and down on a nice trails through forests and pastures from one village to another from one town to the next. For the night I stayed only in my little tent.

It needs about 10 days untill I had adapted my backpack with my body, without painful feet and no hurted leg muscles. But from the begin I had much fun to hike through the mountains even though I was forced to take detours when it was raining, hailing or snowing.

It was a wonderful experience to walk on waving mountain ridges early in the morning, crossing snowcovered mountain passes looking on white peaks in the rising or ardent sun and the great feeling to be in a good lodge in the evening. I will never forget it.

I enjoy to give you a hiking report with some pictures and hope you have a good time and fun.

Best wishes, Klaus

Short before the descent to Elizondo. Despite the dens fog in the morning the day became clear and very hot.
In the West Pyrenees the GR 11 leads me many kilometers on the ridge of low mountains and smoth hills. I enjoyed the springtime with a rich green nature and phantastic views.
In Burgute there were heavy rains, so that I thought I couln´t continue my tour. I waited 2 days, but then I set out in spite of rapid streams and swamps and mud. It was my goal to reach Canfranc.
The rain stopped and with fair weather I made good walking progresses. I became gradully adjusted to the weight of my backpack. Now I could really enjoy hiking over the hills and mountain ridges. Here I met two hikers, who warned me about too much snow in the mountains.
From time to time there were excellent views on outstanding mountain massives,
for example the powerfull Bernera massive above the Lizara Valley.
At the Coll de Foracion I was worried about the thick clouds. A thunderstorm was approaching.
Bizarre Peaks west of Canfranc. Here I unrolled my camping mat and slept under the open sky.
The long climb down to Canfranc. Here and there it was going over meadows and pastures in the young green of springtime.
Here you can see the valley and the steep ascent to the Anayet Lakes. At the slopes there was still enough snow. Crampons and ice pick were a good help for me.
A nice view to the Pic du Midi d´Ossau. The Anayet Lakes began only now to melt. It was not easy to find a sure trail through the labyrinth of lakes.

At the Coll de Brazato the black clouds of a thunderstorm burst on the peaks of the Vignemale. I was in a hurry to descent in the valley. But I didn´t reach and got into a terrible thunderstorm with big hailstones. Hill down on very steep and wet slopes I arrived the Refugio Ordiso.

There were two very kindly Germans also looking for shelter. They gave me a cup of hot tea and so I came again to my life.

When I was on trail to the Bujaruelo lodge I got lost my path at the very beginning. But I was compensated with a nice view to this strong rockies.
The church of Torla in front of the Monte Perdido Massive.
Torla is a pretty and attractive little town in the West Pyrenees mainly living from the tourists who wants to hike within the Ordesa and Perdido National park. This town is home base for hikers to the Goriz lodge in order to climb up the Monte Perdido. There are some good equipped outdoor shops where the alpinist can buy all his equipment.
Dinner with Jörg in Bielsa. He hiked on the Haute Route Pyrenees.
On this day I was over the heaviest descent of all in all 1750 m when I had to cross the raging Rio Zinca in order to arrive at the Pineta lodge. There was no bridge and the river had three arms. Here you can see only two. The third was lying in the shadow of the other side. Crossing this river by feet I sank down in the water with the whole length of my legs. Nevertheless "All´s well that ends well" I thought when I arrived the other riverside.
Evening mood in Benasques
Relentlessly the GR 11 winded through the mountains.
On my way up to the Coll de Ballibierna

Basically it was my intention to reach the Angelos cabin to spend the night there. But I got surprised by a thunderstorm. So I pitched my tent at the frozen lake Llauset. The night was wet and ice cold. Shaking with cold I was up early in the dawn. With all the wet tent and clothes I moved on to the Agelos cabin. After this night I gave me the oath to have a bigger tent for the next time.

Bizarre landscape at the Port Rius.

Already the first day after Canfranc I noticed that orientation over long snowfields, steep snowy slopes and unquiet landscape was more and more difficult. Many markers were still covered with snow. Sometimes the GR 11 itself was a little creek or flooded by the lake. Often I had to climb around the water and that needed a lot of time. So I used more time than in the guide declared.

A view from Port Caldes back to steep slopes of Coll Montardo. Here I slipped down on the snow field but fortunately I dashed in short time against the rocks without to hurt me. After that I climbed down to the valley on a very steep grassy slope with my ice pick.
At the Malfree cabin I didn´t continue my way to Espot but took an excursion to the Monasteri Lake. I would see the valley and the lake because of their beauty. My backpack I had left in the cabin. I found it was so nice here that I would come back once a day.
The Maurici Lake National Park became famous first and foremost of its pitoresque lakes. Here the Monasteri lake.
Delight in angling at high water in Guingueta
The decline of the village Dorve. Here only one man is living with his sheep.
After a more troublesome ascent a cool wind and a fine view.
The little village Aineto short before Tavascan was clean as a whistle and rich decorated with flowers. At the fountain I rested for a longer time and enjoyed the fresh water.
Fine broom bushes at the 1100 m ascent to the Coll de Tudela. On the long way I didn´t met anybody.
About 7.30 pm I was on the Coll and happy to have escaped the inferno of the Baiau cabin. Now it was important to reach the refugio Comapedrosa before the night. Indeed I arrived in dusk. But I didn´t get something to eat from the landlady and so I chewed nuts and raisins. Clear that this was not enough for a day with 1600 m ascent.

Solo Hiking Tour on the long-distance Walking Trail

GR 11

through the Spanish Pyrenees June-July 2013

from Atlantik to the Mideteranean See about 500 miles

Copyright pictures and text from Klaus Goerschel

The long desired red sky at the Coll de Angelos
An animated conversation with Max, the German stage director.
This travel report is parted in 4 stages

Thick clouds on midday and heavy rain in the afternoon. The next day the sun was shining again and I succeeded in visiting the Cap Creus.
There were a strong wind and some rain when I walked to Lighthouse of Cabo Higuer.
I had to accept this weather conditions and planned for the next day to walk to Cap Higuer. On this walk I passed the picturesque old town of Hondarabbia. You see the Plaza Mayor with the historic building from the period of King and Emperor Charles the Fifth.

A lot of bustle at the Goriz lodge which was good occupied. Here already there was enough to eat. No matter of course!

Indeed near of the Lodge camping was allowed. Apart from that in the National Parks Ordesa, Monte Perdido, Posets Maladeta, Aigües-tortes, St. Maurici Lake camping is principally forbidden. In the emergency case you are allowed to pitch a tent above the line of 2000 m but only just late in the evening. Early in the morning you have to remove it. I mean anybody had told me the tent must be green.

September 2013

The view of Cadaces

In general for a hiking tour on the long distance walking trail you should have good fitness basics, like alpine experience, step security, head for heights, ability for spatial orientation and in the Spanish Pyrenees some knowleges of the Spanish language, more exactly the castillian language. Although in Catalunya there are also few people, who argue that they couldn´t understand Castillan. No joke but rebellion!

I believe with some certainty that my fitness was not good enough to wear a heavy backpack 1600 m of ascent and descent in steep mountains. And that is how did it came about to arrange my eqipment as well as for short trips and for long hiking tours such as the GR 11. This means I had to take with me trekking poles, ice pick, crampons, pup tent, sleepingbag, garments for bad weather, cooking equipment, navigation equipment like compass, GPS, maps and guides and so on.

But then I heard a good weather forecast for the west of the Pyrenees. I came to the decision to try hiking in the west part of the GR 11. I made my backpack ready, brought my car to a German company for active watching and took a train to Irun at the Atlantic. Travelling with express train across the north of Spain needs only one day and so I booked on the same day a nice room in a little hotel near by the station.

Irun is a little town with a little harbour at the Atlantic. Despite predicting good weather there were thick rain clouds over the town and the country.
After Zuriza a had a long ascent of 750 m to the Coll de Petraficha, 1961 m. I was very surprised to see as well so much snow in this altitude.
In Ochagavia I had a longer repose on the camping ground. With a good cup of coffee I waited for repairing my backpack.

Hiking on the GR 11 made me great fun and so I decided to continue the trekking into the Central Pyrenees. Unfortunately it was pouring rain all night long. The next day I went to the Tourist Office and asked precautionally about the current state of the GR 11 in the mountains. Also if it is possible to go or not. The madam had a good understanding about this and said: "I can only advise you to avoid crossing the Pyrenees here. At the ascent to the Anayet lakes there is new snow and the danger of avelanges. So I had to wait on melting of snow what could take a long time. I didn´t like to wait and to do nothing and therefore I choosed to go to Andorra hiking there on the GR 11 to east. Due to the central site of this region there was not so much snow. When I would come back to Canfranc after 7 days the melting periode could be made some good progresses so that I would be able to hike. I bought crampons, an ice pick and enough food for 4 days.

On Saturday, the 29. June, 6 o´clock in the morning I started in clear weather on my way to Sallent de Gallego. As from now I stayed for the nights in managed Refugios except in case of emergency I would take my tent. With this refugios it is similar like in our Alp-cabins. But the time for dinner was generally between 20 and 21 o´clock and I feeled it was to late for me.

On the Coll I met some hikers, who would like to climb the peak of the Petraficha about 2100 m. The snow was not too soft and so I had a good descent, even though this slope was steeper than you can see.

The area round the Monte Perdido was declared to a National Park. It is one of the most popular and famos aims of the mountaineers in the Pyrenees. On my way to the Goriz Lodge I walked in the Soasa Valley past many impressive water cascades till the Cirque de Soaso.
From Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea, Hiking on the GR 11 section 2

And now to this weary journey and what made me do to cross the Spanisch Pyrenees on the GR 11. In springtime of this year I come across some very nice pictures of the Pyreneen mountains. Delightfull photos with wonderfull views from the Monte Perdido and Maladeta massive. At once I was enthusiastic and at me the desire was getting up to make there hiking tours, only single trips at first, sometimes perhaps three day walkings into the National parks and on the top of some famous mountains.

Therefore I bought the green road maps from Michelin 1: 150 000, topographical maps 1:25 000 from Editorial Alpina and Rado hiking maps from Inst. Cartogràfic Catalunya, and last not least a roadmap from Marco Polo 1:750 000.

Furthermore I ordered the yellow travelguide GR 11 from Stein Edition, the Cicerone Guide GR 11 Spanish Pyrenees and the Prames Guide GR 11 Senda Pirenaica in Hispanic. With the Prames Guide you get also for every day of hiking on the GR 11 an individual map 1:40 000. Very nice are also the red hiking guides 1 to 4 from Rother. Here you can find the description of the most beautiful hiking trips of special regions of the Pirenees. I found many of the described trips come together with the GR 11. Have I thought originally to make only individual trips but now I also thought about a big hiking tour on the GR 11.

Not being sure where to hike exactly in the Pyrenees, I drove with my car to Figueras at the end of may. At the beginning there was bad weather overall in the Pyrenees. Nevertheless I used two sunny half days for short hiking near the coast from Llanca to Cap Creus.


After 1260 m way up on the Coll de Calvo. Now angry clouds gathered and a thunderstorm was imminent. I had to come to Estaon as fast as possible but 1000 m descent I had to go down.

The trail to the unmanaged cabin Baiau was 18 km long with a altitude difference of 1350 m. When I came to the cabin about 4 pm I was disappointed by the seize and character. It was too little. A man from Catalunya, who had already reserved a bed, told me that he cannot understand Kasstillan language. 4.30 pm it rained and I was happy to have found a shelter.

At 5 pm a young man looked through the door but he closed it immediately. But 5 minutes later a school class swarmed into the tiny room. 15 boys and girls in the age of 14 years occupied at once all beds with two persons. Also into my bed somebody had forced in any way. I was somewhat consternated. When the rain passed off I went outside and sound out the situation.

Behind the refugio the trail went downhill to a half frozen lake which I had to pass at a steep lakeside. Then probably the steepest gravel sllope of the whole tour leaded up 250 m to the Coll de Baiau, 2757 m.

To spent the comming night in this corrugated-iron hut gave me a true horror-strikken, so that I set out 6 o´clock pm to climb up to the Coll Baiau.

I left Campedrosa as early as possible and came to Arinsal 9 o´clock in the morning. The descent on asphalt roads I avoided and took a bus to Andorra la Vella.

Outline map Pyrenees with red dotted long-distance Walking Trail GR 11

Part 1

from Kap Higuer to Canfranc

240 km , 12 days of hiking

After 12 walking days and 240 km I arrived tiredly but very content at Canfranc Pueblo. In Canfranc Estacion 4 km north of Canfranc pueblo I would like to watch the station built in the times of art nouveau.

Part 2

from Canfranc to Andorra

300 km, 19 days of hiking

Some days in Figueras and the Costa Brava