Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

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davidsheridan
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Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by davidsheridan » Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:32 am

My wife and I visited a national park in the Catalonian (Spanish) Pyrenees: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici.
There are countless small lakes in this relatively small park.

We were in Barcelona and had planned to stay for the better part of the week, but we soon remembered we are not big city fans, so of course we plotted our escape to the mountains.

We rented a car in Barcelona and drove 4 hours to the town of Espot, which is the perfect place to access the park. We stayed in Espot and day hiked. There are also “Refugi” accommodations available in the back country that looked really nice.

We day hiked to many lakes (18) and over four mountain passes in 3 days of killer day hiking. The aspen trees turning color into bright yellows and oranges were a real treat.

The park reminded me of the Sierra, there were endless ridges, passes and peaks and cross country routes throughout the park. If you go, make sure to get the detailed trail map because from the mountaineering shop in town - it shows many more use trails and routes that are not on the park’s trail map.
01 San Maurici.JPG
01 - Estany D’Sant Maurici – entry point for most people from the East of the park -– reached by jeep taxi or 1.5 hour hike from Espot
02 Abov e amitges.JPG
02 – 3 small lakes as we got higher in the park above the Amitges lake and refugi
03 decending pass.JPG
03 – Descending from our first mountain pass – headed back to Estany D’Sant Maurici
04 San MAurici with aspen.JPG
04 – View of Estany D’Sant Maurici with fall colors
05 Fall colors .JPG
05 – Fall colors on hike up the valley of the monastery
06 class 3 on way to pass.JPG
06 – A little class 3 bolder fields on the way up to our next pass
07 looking back on valley.JPG
07 – Looking back down on the valley we ascended
08 almost at the pass.JPG
08 – Almost at the pass
09 Descending pass.JPG
09 – Descending the other side of the pass to another series of small lakes
10 - back on trail.JPG
10 – back on trail
11 Estany negre.JPG
11-Crossing dam at Estany Negre
12 Lakes with Rufugi.JPG
12 – Lakes just below Estany Negre – notice the Refugi on the peninsula – reached by a 3,000 for ascent from Espot. We were headed down to complete our big loop hike (9 hours)
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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:33 am

The area looks wonderful! What were the dates? It appeared to be Fall. Is this an area where you could do Oct-Nov hiking?

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Re: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by davidsheridan » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:20 pm

Dates were October 10 - 12.

I think that Oct - Nov. is a good time to visit due to the very little crowds that we experienced.

Once the snow starts falling, then apparently it becomes a great back country ski destination too.

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Re: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by wildhiker » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:30 pm

My wife and I day-hiked in the northwest part of this national park in the Spanish Pyrenees in late September, 2017. We went up the valley from the Estany de Cavallers reservoir. The mountains were quite beautiful, but I was disgusted by the ever-present cow pies on the trail, on the rocks, on the meadows, in the streams, everywhere. Plus, of course, the bovine creatures themselves wandering freely all over the landscape and using the main trails as their own. The park brochure justifies this grazing as a "cultural heritage". Personally, I felt that it was an enormous stain on the naturalness of the park. And it seems economically backward. Tourism is clearly the chief economic driver of the region. Why risk losing tourists like me in order to maintain some low value backcountry grazing? In one of your top national parks, no less.

We had a much better time day-hiking in the Parc Natural de Pocets-Maladeta further west out of the town of Benasque in Aragon. This is also the highest part of the Pyrenees, with a few remnant mountain glaciers. The mountains were fairly dramatic, with well-maintained trails. This area also gets livestock grazing, but here it is sheep that are actively herded. So their movements and deposits are controlled by the herder and they have far less aesthetic impact, and probably less ecological impact as well, than the free-range cattle grazing in the Parc Nacional D'Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici.

We have been adding international trips to mountain areas in the last 10 years and every time I return I am so grateful to be living in North America, and California specifically, where we have mountain wildernesses like the high Sierra that are not overrun with grazing livestock.

-Phil

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Re: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by The Other Tom » Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:37 am

Nice TR, thanks for posting. I don't blame you for wanting to get out of the city, but while you were there did you have a chance to visit La Sagrada Familia? Beautiful church.

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Re: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:27 am

I do not see any cow pies in the photos. I do think that when we go into another country and their public lands are managed differently, including perhaps more grazing than we would prefer, it is not our place to criticize. From the local people's perspective, is it better to give up your way of life for tourist dollars and trade being a proud rancher to become service workers in the tourist economy? Having lived in ranching country for many years, not all people think cow pies are that disgusting. I know many for whom the smell of horse barns are thought of as pleasant, sweet and desirable. We are lucky here to have designated wilderness that is untouched by grazing, and as much as I like it, I feel no reason to expect other cultures to bend to our likes. But then, thanks for informing us of a nearby area that has less grazing, for those who prefer that.

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Re: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by fishwrong » Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:12 am

Awesome trip report. It's nice to see a similar perspective from a foreign place. Sounds like you had enough time to truly enjoy the place. I'm jealous.

I curious about fishing and wildlife over there. Did you see much of either?

Thanks for the report.

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Re: Parc Nacional D’Aiguistortes y Estany de San Maurici - Spanish Pyrenees

Post by Ikan Mas » Sat Oct 26, 2019 8:06 pm

Yes, did you see any fish in those nice lakes? I've flown over them and they looked real interesting.

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