For that 7th day of GR11 we were planning to do 15kms from Guingeta de Aneu to Espot and then finally get to Estany de Sant Maurici doing 800m uphill. We wanted to start the hike gradually because this was our first long distance trail that year. Also we tried to plan the stages so that we would do the major elevation gain in the morning and then be getting down to the valleys to spent the night at the lower altitudes.
So we spent the night at the campground in Guingeta de Aneu and it was very noisy and crowded. There we realized that as we start our hike in August it is going to be the high season and crowds of people almost everywhere. We couldn’t escape it because the weather during July was still very unstable with lots of rainy and cold days so we were waiting long to finally get started. At that time the forecast was promising a heat wave coming our way and thus very hot days ahead of us.
So we began our climb getting along the Embalse de la Torrasa which was a wide part of the river and then turned to the fields and forest. It was already 10am when we started walking and the sun was high up. At first the trail was following the shaded path and was not too steep.
We were going to stealth camp all the way and so were fully loaded with camping gear as well as food supplies like cereals, dry bread, dehydrated tomatoes etc. As the first 4 days of the hike we were not going to encounter any possibility to resupply. So it was going to be pretty hard the first couple of days but we hoped that as we go and eat the weight was going to decrease.
Then the trail turned to the car road where we had to walk for 3 kms or so. It was quite busy unusual for such type of the secluded places. It was mostly in the direct sunlight and although it was only 11.30 it was cruel on us.
We were glad when we turned away from it to the shaded path leading straight to the village Espot. This is where we started to meet many people on the way. The path was climbing gently uphill and went partly in the shade. We already started to feel the heat pretty strong.
The path was quite flat and had a lot of benches alongside. So we made the last 3kms until the village Espot. Espot was a typical small rocky Pyrenean village that even had a ski resort with a proper name. There we bought a bit of fresh tomatoes and two peaches to have lunch with and were out of it.
On the way out we’ve noticed the gate that obviously served as an entrance to the National Park Estany de Sant Maurici and probably were charging a fee for the vehicle entrance.
Not long after we decided to have a break close to the road in the shade and have our lunch there. We had a leftover bulgur from the previous evening and we added our tomatoes there. We had a nice rest in that place for an hour or so and were out on the car road again. We had to do only a km or so on it and we noticed the huge amount of truck cars passing by probably picking up people from the lake up above.
Then we turned to the forest path and it was already 14pm at that point so we just prayed for the trail to go in the shade. It was very difficult to walk at that time and every step felt like a burden.
We had to do 6.5 kms more up and every km we had to stop in the shade to rest. We were afraid to get a sun stroke in such heat and knew that better we go slow. It was a payback for starting late and we promised ourselves to get back to the routine the next day.
There were quite a bit of people there walking too and luckily the path was partly in the shade but the sunny parts were killing and we were sweating like crazy all over the body. It was climbing gently uphill with no steep parts at all and we were grateful for that.
After we walked on it for 5kms we stumbled upon the wide green plains close to the river bank and given that it was already 16.30pm we decided it was time to stop. We didn’t do the last 2kms to the lake and 200m of uphill that we planned so we had to do it the next day. As it was quite late in the day and we weren’t sure about whether we’ll find any place to camp up there at the lake or no. So we made our mind to stop there at lower altitude of around 1700m.
We still had time to take a shower under the sky as it was very hot and cooked our dinner before setting up a tent. The evening was very nice and warm and we would spend more time outside but had to hide in the tent from mosquitos as we were in the forest. The place we found for the tent was relatively flat and we hoped to have a nice rest there.
The next day was a big day when we would have to do more than 20kms in order to go over the mountain pass and get lower down to camp. We had 1200m of elevation change in total for uphill and downhill. We expected that day to be beautiful as we would be passing by many lakes and amazing mountain peaks.