TERRA INCOGNITA DAY 1: Ras de Conques Hut - Bordes de Burg
9h in movement (10h30' total) 27km +1.500m/-1.700m
We leave the car at the Ras de Conques Hut, which is reached by a forest track from the town of Ars.
At 8:00 a.m. we start walking and take a trail uphill. Just then we see a fallow deer on the road! Shortly after we leave the track to take a path to the right, which goes up to the Col de Grau, where we have very good views of the Cadí mountain Range. Right there we catch a track again for a long time. Easy path where we see woodpecker from tree to tree.
We arrive at the Coll de Ares viewpoint where we take photos and here we leave the track on the left side to climb through the crest of the mountain to take a path that is higher (despite it is not well marked, the path is easy) and we continue along this path to the Trescul peak that is just in front of the Salòria peak.
We continue and now it’s downhill, through sections with no obvious path and the bushes sometimes make it difficult to advance. Finally we reach the hill, from where you can climb the Saloria summit, we turn left and we will not do it since we already climbed it on an other occasion (see the route from Os de Civis Hotel in this Wikiloc)
Road to Bony de Trescul
We continue and we go down following paths and old tracks … until we reach the Bordes del Conflent. Here we leave the track and begin the approach to la Maniga pass.
First along an old path and then without any path, we are going up following trails opened by cows (and thank you!), Always going up through the forest and along the river that we must cross several times, until little by little the forest is left behind and the road opens up until it reaches the pass.
Bordes del Conflent
Here we leave our backpacks under a tree and go up to climb la Maniga peak (2.503m). There is no path but there is no loss, it is straight up and easy to climb.
In about 20/25 minutes we are already up. It is worth the climb, what a view! From here we can admire the Saloria peak, the Pica d’Estats, Aigüestortes, l’Orri peak and the Cadi mountain range, it is very beautiful.
La Màniga peak (2.503m)
After a while, we find a fence that we cannot pass and since the path is not visible, we decide to take a dirt track, we continue down until we find the Borders of Burg.
Cap del Ras de la Font Negra
It is extremely hot here and the road is closed again and full of bushes, it is not obvious. After a while we find the way again. Finally we looked around here for a place to put the tent and we found a very good place (see the checkpoint) a small horizontal meadow and next to a stream, perfect!
Overnight place (close to Bordes de Burg)
Tired but very satisfied we put the tent, have dinner and close the good day by contemplating a beautiful sunset.
TERRA INCOGNITA DAY 2: Bordes de Burg - Sant Joan de l'Erm Vell
9h30'h in movement (11h total) 30km +1.700m/-1.600m
We get up at 6.30am, we have breakfast and pack the tent. At 7:45 a.m. we started walking and went down the same track as the previous day until we reached the town of Farrera where we continued along an easy asphalt track to another town where we met a very nice shepherd dog and since then it will follow us for half a day today!
Hermitage at the biginig of the day
From here we take a path and everything is very green, we continue and we take a path uphill, we pass other villages and views of fairy-tale hermitages.
We continue along the uphill track for a long time (with the dog always with us, very curious) until just after a stream that crosses it we take a path on the right. We go up through a pine forest, combined with a paths and abandoned tracks, without seeing any marks (for this section is highly recommended the GPS) and we just see a fallow deer! These encounters always make our day.
We cross an area of dense forest, bushes and broken branches along the way until we take another track very high up where there is a Fountain (we have set it as a checkpoint). Be careful! You have to take water here because we will not find water again until the town of Montenartró.
Water source. Important to refill here
We arrived at the top of the hill, we left our backpacks and we went up to the Pui de Urdosa peak where there are good views of l’Orri Peak, the Salòria and the Alto Pirineo Natural Park.
Going up to this peak is a detour of about 25min between going and coming back. We go down, take the backpacks, eat a snack continue down.
We first go down a fairly steep track with large stones until in a while we find a track full of trees cut down and left in the middle of the road … which makes us literally jump … At one point we leave the track to take a path and after awhile the path just disappears … so we look at the GPS because we don’t see any mark either.
l’Orri pick view from Pui d’Urdosa
This leads us to discover some historical ruins of the civil war, with trenches … the legacy of the Crestella, very beautiful views, since we are at the highest point in this area. Right here we see another deer again, nice!
Historical ruins of the civil war at la Crestella
We go down along a path that is sometimes not very evident throught the forest over bushes and stones until we reach a wider meadow where we stop to eat with good views of the valley. Here the dog that was with us all this way, returns home … how intelligent are sheepdogs!
We continue going down until we find some high voltage towers where a path begins that goes down to the river, below the valley. This path is a bit tought for us and it is also very warm so we run out of water (more or less 1h30 ‘of continuous descent). We cross the river over a wooden bridge and start to climb, an hour or so uphill to the town of Montenartró.
Luckily in this town there is a fresh water source! We drink fresh water and rest for a while in the shade.
We continue climbing to the unguarded hut of the Prado Grande where we wanted to spend the night.
Unfortunately, when we arrive, we find a group of young people who are celebrating a birthday party with loud music … but that is not the worst. They had dangerous dogs unleashed. One of these faces us and we have a very bad time. We tryed to defend ourselves from the dogs, and these people also want to attack us. We do not understand how unguarded shelters can be used so badly … neither are they dog kennels nor places to celebrate parties…
The fact is that we continued our route, already very tired, to look for a place to sleep and we found Sant Joan de l’Erm Vell, an old sanctuary destroyed by a fire in 1936 (protected as a cultural asset of local interest) and is a fabulous place where we can put our tent and we have a fountain just 20m below.
Sant Joan de l’Erm Vell
Perfect! And even a bench where you can eat with views of the mountains that we have climbed during this day. Satisfied to return to silence and nature, we settled here.
Sant Joan de l’Erm Vell viewpoint
TERRA INCOGNITA DIA 3: Sant Joan de l'Erm Vell - Refugi Ras de Conques
4h20' en moviment (5h en total) 15,5km +600/-469m
During the night it has rained, it started at 04:45 with heavy showers, but of short duration, luckily the tent kept the water out.
At 6.30am we get up, we start to pack and we leave the tent hanging since it is very wet. We are preparing breakfast and as black clouds come and it starts to rain again so we start walking. Luckily, it won’t rain anymore.
Wide road after Sant Joan de l’Erm Vell
So we start the day, first on a wide track and until we reach the Basseta refuge, it is very big and there is no one, strange at these times of the year!
We find many birds, there we take a track to the left and then we take a path, which is narrowing more and more, sometimes the grass is high and you have to take into account the streams and the mud that cannot be seen below.
La Basseta Hut
We continue like this for a while, but the road gets narrower and we lose the marks, we follow the GPS to climb a hill till we past an abandoned house.
This section is tough because there is no path and it goes up a lot (about 45 minutes) until we reach the Planell pass, where there is a meadow.
The path after La Basseta Hut
Here again there are marks and we take a wide and well-marked path to the right quite flat, very easy to follow until we reach the Solanell pass and right there the path begins to climb where it ends bordering Mount Cabrera. And from there, downhill, following the marks, to the Ras de Conques hut where we left the car on the first day.
Views arriving to Ras de Conques Hut
We arrived at 12:45 pm and took the opportunity to eat something at a table in the shade of a tree. All very good, throught forest paths all the time and very nice. And we were lucky since the black clouds didn’t wet us!
Ras de Conques Hut