Camping,  Hiking,  Hiking in Europe,  Hiking in France,  Hiking in Pyrenees

First time hiking with the trekking poles – Will it be a fail? | Perfect One-day Hike to Cambre d’Aze Peak in Pyrenees, France

On this one-day hike we conquered the mountain peak Cambre d’Aze (2711m) which is located in Eastern Pyrenees, France. We started the hike at the Eyne ski station (1800m) and had to do around 1000m uphill and 1000m downhill. We spent full day hiking this trail and did 26 kms in total. It was our first one-day hike in the summer season 2020 and we were very excited to do it. We’ve been planning of doing this particular hike for a long time looking at this beautiful mountain from aside. It is not the highest peak in the region but one of the most scenic ones for sure.

So we took our light backpacks with some food and clothes and left early in the morning. We started the hike at 8.30am and the weather was quite foggy and humid probably because of the heavy rain the day before. We haven’t been able to get out for a hike until late June because of the very cold and rainy conditions we were having in the region. And now when we finally saw a warm clear day in the forecast we left immediately.

First part of the trail was going mostly through the forest and mountain huts and was quite easy and flat. Then we came close to the chairlift and ski trails and were hiking alongside of them for quite a while. The trail continued to be fairly easy with a gentle uphill and sometimes was even coming out to a dirt car road.

The navigation was certainly an issue though as there wasn’t a clear signing of the trail and often was confusing. So we had to constantly check our GPS on the phone to make sure we stay on the right track. As there were many crossroads and little forest paths in different directions. It became even harder because of the low clouds and dense fog around us as we couldn’t see 10m ahead of us.

Then we saw a big uphill in front of us and it was clear that we had to conquer it. This is where more challenging trail started. It actually turned out the most difficult part of the whole trail. We think it was 2kms long but the uphill was very steep with a lot of mud and slippery rocks to step on.

This is where it was about time to take out our trekking poles. Since we started hiking about 3 years ago it was our first attempt using the trekking poles. We just never felt a need of them that much. But after our TMB high mountain hike we’ve done last year we realized that it might be a good idea to have them especially for the downhills. So we purchased quite cheap model from sport’s goods store Decathlon and our goal was to test them out and see if we need to bring them with us on a long distance hike.

In the middle of this challenging uphill, the sky started to clear up and we finally saw patches of the blue sky. We were already concerned about not getting any view at the top and fortunately it wasn’t the case. Anyway, we were grateful for the cloudy and chilly weather at the start.

So we were at the top of this uphill and saw that this was the highest point of the cable car. Then we had to conquer the final stretch of the trail. To our surprise, it wasn’t too steep nor too difficult climbing gently all the way up to the top. So while doing it we could enjoy the amazing views over the valley and surrounding mountain ranges.

The thing we love the most about ascending different peaks even in the same region is the different perspectives and views you can get on the same landscape. And here we could see the beautiful Cerdanya valley with its yellow fields, green forests and blue lakes. We have even spotted the seacoast further in the distance and were absolutely fascinated by it! It was the first peak in the region from where we could see the Mediterranean Sea that was in 150 kms away from us.

On the way we’ve spotted many little birds that were living in stones probably and they were behaving quite carelessly. Also several huge birds of prey flied very close above our heads and we could see how wide their wingspan is. The small mountain flowers were also very pretty and colorful; growing very close to the ground, the diversity of them was astonishing.

The trail was quite straight directing us to the top of Cambre d’Aze. The piles of stones were helping us to stay on the right track. At one point the trail started to go alongside the abrupt mountain rock on one side and it was incredible as we could see from it the steep rocky walls up close and could feel that we are walking at the edge. Only at the end the path got quite steep and rocky and we had to make the last effort to step up to the top.

From there we got the breathtaking views. On one side we saw the green Eyne Valley, on the other Cerdanya valley and in between incredible layers of rocks that reminded us a lot of Dolomites, Italy. It was amazing to see a little piece of this beauty in Pyrenees too. The weather was very quiet and there was almost no wind, which has never happened to us before on any mountain peaks. The amount of small and big low clouds was astonishing; some of them were forming right in front of our eyes. It created even more mesmerizing atmosphere and feeling that you are staying on top of the world.

So we had our half an hour there, took some photos and started to descend down. There was an info board stating the restrictions of the natural reserve we were in and we were happy to learn that the bivouac (stealth camping for a night) was tolerated from 8pm to 8am. We enjoyed one more time the views on the valley that trail offered us and could even spot the Little Yellow Train moving across the fields which is one of the attractions in the area.

So this way in a quiet pace we got to the same challenging part of a steep downhill we did before. And this is where we could really appreciate having our trekking poles with us. Even using one trekking pole made a huge difference being able to lean on it and take the pressure out of the legs and knees a bit. This way we avoided trembling in the legs which otherwise was inevitable. So we made our mind that we definitely need the trekking poles with us on a longer hike and there we would continue using and testing them out.

After some time we got to the mountain plain with picnic tables, which was the place of crossing of many ski trails and had our lunch there. Then we peacefully enjoying the nice warm weather got to the point where we started.

Concluding our impressions about this hike we can say that it is quite an easy level trail that is accessible almost to everybody. And if you take your time and won’t rush you’ll be able to get to the peak with little effort. The views you get from the mountain are very beautiful and sometimes you forget you are still in Pyrenees. We think it makes it a perfect one-day hike in the region if you have only few days to spare and are willing to get to know the area more.

Here is the link to Google map to follow the hike:

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