Encantats Snowshoe Trek

March 2012

The Val d’Arun is an anomaly – a Spanish Valley but on the French (northern) side of the watershed.   And not just any watershed, but the source of the migthy Garonne River (running through Toulouse and Bordeaux), a fact that displeased many a Frenchman when it was finally proved in 1931 by Norbert Casteret.  Known in Spain mainly for the Baqueira ski resort the valley also contains the Aigues Tortes National Park, with its granite and lake filled landscape.  Perfect snowshoeing terrain, and wonderful because the refuges are open for business each winter from around mid Feb to April, depending on snow conditions.

Every trek is filled with emotion and this one was no exception.  The mix of experienced trekkers and novices was great, people’s hidden qualities emerged and all of us evolved over the week to appreciate each other and the landscape we were walking through.  And what a landscape.  Snowy passes and fabulous frozen lakes.  You realise that in summer you’d be forced to walk around and there is something wonderful about walking straight across.  The same for going down – wherever we could we were sliding down (either sort of snowshoe skiing for those with balance, or simply on our behinds).  Again, with no snow there are no short cuts, but the snow changes the way you walk and makes all sorts of things possible.

The half day learning how to use our avalanche detector kit was useful and kept us mindful of where we were traversing.  Not to be taken lightly.

Below are some photos.  It is an experience I would highly recommend; it is out of the ordinary and everyone comes away with something wonderful and something different.

Siân.

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