I happen to be in the French Pyrenees for some hiking with friends. Due to some knee trouble I decided to chicken out and let the others finish the hike on our planned route. I, on the other hand, took train and bus to Andorra yesterday, that tiny landlocked country between Spain and France, to have a look at it and try my luck with a day hike without backpack.
So today I left Pas de la Casa to the north to follow the Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne (HRP), a hiking trail along the entire length of the Pyrenees, for a few hours. It took me an hour to climb out of the valley and leave the noise of the city behind. ‘City’ is a bit of a euphemism here. There are three things prevalent in Pas de la Casa: hotels, duty-free shops, and ski resorts.
Anyway, from then on it was beautiful walking over grassy slopes and the occasional scaling of a hill’s summit (e.g. Pic de Maià, 2615m). The HRP was joined by La Volta a Andorra, a circular trail around Andorra, and I followed both for a while, not without coming across the occasional marmot. Before the trails separated again they led me into a most beautiful valley, that of the Riu Siscaro. I can’t describe it in words, and the photos won’t do it justice either. The same goes for the following traverse, to the valley of the Riu de Juclar. They looked almost wild and unspoilt, except that the nearest road and settlement was never more than 1 or 2 kilometers away, of course.
Near the latter river’s source (?) is a refugi at an artificial lake, Estany Primer de Juclar, that I briefly visited before heading down along the Riu de Juclar towards Andorra’s main road.
Though impoverished until the 1950s, from what is left of old architecture and roads, Andorra must have been an amazing-looking country. Tourism brought money but spoiled the beauty. Quite a catch 22, eh?
Walked: 18.5km or so