Hiking is one of our favorite activities when we travel. If we go any place new, Cathy “Wildcat” always checks to see if there are any good hikes in the area. Her eyes light up if there are any tall mountains to climb. She gets a wide grin if there is some amazing trail to experience. Her excitement and enthusiasm is contagious and part of the reason I like hiking so much. Hiking just has a way of making you forget your troubles and relax, like in our latest adventure in getting above the clouds in the Pyrenees of France.
The Pyrenees are a beautiful mountain range that separates Spain from France. It has peaks over 11,000 ft high and stretches over 300 miles. The Pyrenees also offer some serious elevation of over 3000 metres in spots, which is why it has some of the best skiing in Europe. This gorgeous range also hosts countless waterfalls, diverse plants and trees, and is a playground for any outdoor enthusiast.
See It, Hike It
Seeing all these mountains, of course, Wildcat and I had to do some hiking. Since we were hiking at the tail end of the winter season, we knew we had to prepare both for the mild/warm weather we were experiencing as well as more winter-like conditions at higher elevations.
- Always plan and pack for what you could expect. (We needed snowshoes for much of our hike)
- Check weather reports and trip reports thoroughly
- Local guides are always a good idea when hiking in unfamiliar locations
For our hike, we had the help of Adventure Creators to organize the trip. We were set up with a fantastic guide Jean-Noel. Besides being an expert level guide, he is an amazing photographer and all around guru for most outdoor activities. Having a local guide on hikes is something that I am embracing more and more as we travel the world. The knowledge, stories and insight you receive about the area you are hiking really add to the whole experience. It is also reassuring that if the unexpected does happen, that there are local people who have things in hand and are prepared for any emergency. Oh and one more thing, the access roads to trailheads can be best described as challenging. I would very much prefer to have a guide get us there because…Wow…I have no idea how we got to our trailhead in one piece.
Not a Simple Stroll
The drive wasn’t the only challenging thing on our hike. The Pyrenees are as rugged as they are beautiful. There are trails for every experience level and ones that will definitely challenge anyone. Our trail had a nice easy start, which is always nice. We had to put on snowshoes almost from the start, but there was a nice gradual incline at first. It allowed us to work out some hiking muscles that we hadn’t used regularly lately, and take lots of pictures of the breathtaking landscapes.
Things got interesting once we started gaining elevation. Our trail became much steeper and challenging. As I have mentioned many times in the past, I’m not good with heights (where I could fall). We were following what I was told were herd paths, but the goats or sheep that made these paths seemed to not share my fear of heights.
Following the steep incline, we headed to a vast bowl-like area leading to the final crest to the summit. The combination of unusually warm weather and snow conditions requiring snow-shoes was very draining. I’ll admit I was feeling fatigued from not drinking enough (my fault) and struggling with the mixed bag of conditions. It was at this point Wildcat and I heard something we had never heard before. It almost sounded like a freight train. As we heard this roar, there was a slight trembling feeling in our feet. We were hearing our first avalanche. Our guide assured us that it was very far away and that he had planned our hike through an area with no chance of avalanche (another reason for having an expert guide along).
Summit Fever Hits
At this point, our guide Jean-Noel asked if we wanted to head back. He saw that I was struggling a bit, but I assured him that I tend to look like that when I get too hot. I overheat really easy, but I wasn’t going to quit. Besides, Wildcat could see the summit. She suffers from an extreme case of summit fever. It is a condition in which nearing a summit will cause extreme joy, and forgetfulness of any adversity the hike may have presented before this point. The summit was in our sights and we were on our way.
View from the Top
The views from the summit of our little mountain (we climbed a baby mountain at 6500 ft.) were amazing. I have never seen a mountain range that seemed to go off into the horizon. It looked like there was no end. It was truly awe-inspiring. We stopped for a quick lunch and to soak in the views. The summit had a warm breeze. Not something I am used to experiencing on a hike. It was hard to leave that great view, but eventually, we started heading back down. I was wishing we had the airboards we tried in France with us, so we could sled down the mountain.
Hiking the Pyrenees is something not to miss. Choose any of the countless mountains, make a plan, get a good local guide and prepare to be blown away by the experience. As always, hiking will make you RoarLoud. Just remember to do it quietly if it is avalanche season 😉
All the activities we did on our trip and more can be booked as part of the multi-activity holiday with The Adventure Creators! Thank you to The Adventure Creators and Tourisme Haute- Garonne for inviting us to the Pyrenees, we were happy to be guests. As always our opinions are honest and our own.
Keep your head in the clouds!
Daydreaming of being in the Pyrenees! 🌎Where in the world do you daydream about? . . #France #explorepyr #RoarLoud #welltravelled #adventureNearAndFar #Pryenees #fodorsonthego #travelphotography #blueskies #cloudgram #tree_magic #hikingtrail #hiketheworld #visitpyrenees #lovelifeoutside #ILoveFrance #exploremore #whyweexplore
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