In this trip report we are going to share Day 1 of our hike around the lakes of the Carlit mountain range in Bouillouses natural site, Eastern Pyrenees, France. It is a 26 kms hike with the elevation change of around 800m. This is an easy to moderate hike that is accessible to most of the people. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the region more and enjoy beautiful mountainous landscapes.
We started our hike in the town of Font Romeu Odeillo Via. It was an early July and we were excited to finally start the hiking season. The weather has been unstable during all the spring, quite cold and rainy. But that day the weather was promising to be sunny and clear.
First, we were getting through the idyllic forest paths and then getting out to one of the cable car stations. In this area of Pyrenees are located many ski resorts and we were crossing one named Pyrenees 2000. This particular place is quite popular among the French sportsmen to get their training for the competitions like Olympics winter games.
So we crossed the ski trail and for some time were out on the car road. From there we started to enjoy the views over Cerdanya valley and surrounding mountain ranges. Also there we could spot the people up in the sky practicing paragliding. And what’s especially nice about it is that there is actually a school located in the region where you can learn how to do it by yourself. And we definitely would love to do it when we have a chance.
Along the car road we’ve seen many parked camper vans and we supposed that there is an authorized parking for them. The road was leading to the “Roc de la Calme” cable car station that could lift us to the other side of the mountain right to the lake Bouillouses. But we were planning to hike it all by feet and started to ascend the mountain. This part wasn’t too exciting nor interesting almost all the way to the lake. We just followed the dirt gravel roads along the cable car that was going through the forest. It wasn’t difficult though and the uphills and downhills were quite gentle. As for the trail marking we had to constantly check out our navigation on the phone in order to stay on track as we had to draw our own trail.
So when we were down at the first lake Pradeilles which was a lovely area with beautiful views over the Carlit range we had another boring several km part to do till the big lake Bouillouses. It was all in the sun and very hot. There were crowds of the people too walking on it with us and that made it less enjoyable. After we passed by Hotel des Bonnes Hommes we had to conquer a bit of an uphill in order to get to the first lake. We were a bit concerned about the amount of people hiking with us so wanted to find our camp spot as early as possible. The weather started to change suddenly to a strong, sometimes blasting wind that was blowing in our faces and made it harder to walk.
So we made our way through the rocky and quite crowded uphill to the first lake Estany de Viver. There was a herd of horses pasturing at the side of it and we decided to go out of the trail in the closeby forest to search for the camp spot. One of nice things about this area and one of the reasons why we love it so much is that it is authorized to camp here from 19pm to 9am in any spot that you like but without putting up a fire. It is one of the great advantages in our opinion.
So we found our camp spot close to the lake side in the forest out of the trail. The wind was blowing fiercely there but we didn’t see any other spot and didn’t want to wander away too much. It was our first time camping out with our new tent and we were excited to test it out in the wilderness. We had already set it up several times so it wasn’t a hard task. Of course doing it in the strong wind wasn’t a pleasant experience. So when our tent was in place, we started to cook our dinner and getting ready for the night. The wind was worrying us quite a bit and so we tried our luck to go further in the forest to find a potentially better spot. And we found it! We were surprised standing there and feeling just a little gusts of wind in comparison to the blasting winds in the other spot. So without further a due we took our self-standing tent (a nice feature to have in such situations) and set it up in this better spot. So happy that we can rest in the quiet place we were good to go to sleep.
Here is the link to Google map to follow the hike: