Jul 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm #1261196
First hike back from pneumonia and a cracked rib.
I've been laid up for a while and finally, after training and buying lighter gear, I went out for a hike high up in the Spanish Pyrenees.
I just did an over night, to see how things went. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey, as they say.
I hiked in Mount Roig, in the Catalan Pyrenees, leaving from a refuge called Piera del Prat. I went up at about five in the afternoon, and walked until eight that evening, and set up camp next to some high lakes. The walk up was fun, and I was very nervous, as it has been over a year since my last over night trip. I was trying out a lot of new gear too- a new pack, the GG Murmur, and the MLD SoloMid in cuben- Just for fun, and for practice, I was carrying a weeks worth of food to bump up the weight. Pack weight was only 7.5 kg, which is incredible considering three years ago I got back into hiking with a pack weight of 20 kg. Water is plentiful and clean, so I only needed to carry half a litre.
I climbed up to 2400m and made camp next to a beautiful lake. There was still snow on the ground, above and below me, but the weather was fine, over night temperature of about 4 degrees celsius, and about 19 degrees during the day.
After I made camp, I had some visitors, who stayed around all night munching grass and playing. I love horses, having earned my living on them for a while- it was great to see so many foals. They were very inquisitive, especially about the shelter, and came up and gave it a sniff.
There were a few strong gusts of wind during the night, but otherwise, I slept like a baby. I poked my head out of the shelter every now and then to star gaze- what a sight!
I woke at sunrise, and hiked up to the nearest peak, Pic de tres Estats at 2700m. The snow had fallen in this area only last week, which is quite late for July, and the high peaks required crampons. I managed to get up to 2700m, but higher than that, and the park office insisted on people carrying crampons, which I don't have.
I strolled down and stopped to chat to a shepherd I had met the day before. He's from Morocco, and spent his day looking after the sheep as they grazed. At night he parked them below in a temporary yard, and slept in town.
The Pyrenees is littered with old shepherds huts and you can still see the ruins of many on the trails.
I hurt my knee coming down, so I'll have to let that heal before the next hike- but it's only minor, and I plan to go back to the area when the snow melt in another couple of weeks, and climb up some Tres Miles (3000m peaks) in the area on a longer route involving sections of the HRP. This hike was a test for that, and I think I'll reconsider some gear choices- not sure. Stay tuned, and thanks for looking.
It's great to be back on the trail again!!
fredJul 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm #1629331
Wonderful pics, thanks for sharing.Jul 16, 2010 at 11:01 am #1629634
I had the pleasure to visit south of that area a few years ago;I'm itching to get back.
Thanks for the great pics.Jul 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm #1629706
Thanks for sharing and fantastic views.Jul 17, 2010 at 6:46 am #1629827
@philipdLocale: Ontario, Canada
Great pictures John. Very nice.Jul 17, 2010 at 9:00 am #1629849
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Gorgeous photos, fred. I especially like the one with your shelter and the clouds rolling in. As a professional photographer, do you consider a sky that is beyond the dynamic range of your photo(like in the horse photo)to be OK? There is a locally very successful landscape photographer who occasionally does this as well.Jul 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm #1629892
Thanks for your responses- I wish I'd stayed out longer and hadn't hurt the knee- which is OK, but sore. I'll be out again as soon as it's ready. I've got until the middle of September clear for hiking and shooting this summer.
Dondo- thanks for the question.
Do I think the blown out sky is OK? Well the answer to that is, yes, as that's what you get with a little camera like the Fuji F30 (a gem!!). Compositionally, I tried to minimize the sky as I knew it would blow out, and have the horizon as near the top as possible.
I wasn't paid to be there, and I don't make a living off my hiking photos. I'm a fine art photographer and I shoot 5×4 inch sheet film, which requires heavy cameras, lenses and a really heavy tripod. None of which I'm ever going to hike up to 2500 meters any time soon. Not only because I'm not into carrying the weight (I'm not), but the subjet matter doesn't interest me- it's a given. Check out what I shoot on my website through my profile, and you'll see what I mean.
Another answer would be, if someone came along and wanted to use the photo and paid me for it, then I'd sell it, and again, the sky would be Ok, because the market (the buyer) says it's OK. If the buyer said, 'Hey Fred, that sky is blown out, can you strip in some sunset sky off another photo?" I'd say "Sure, no worries, mate" and send them the bill.
I hope that answers your question. Besides exhibiting my work, I also lecture in photography at several international universities and design schools here in Barcelona, and I know from professional experiance that I can go on a bit, so sorry for being long winded.
fredJul 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm #1629894
5 minutes in photoshop. Gotta love those layers.
How do you like it?
Personally, I like blown out areas of photos, and get compliments from gallery people who are a little sick of every tonal nuance being expressed. Doesn't bother me.
fredJul 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm #1629933
Fred, Enjoyed the photos. What about the new gear? Are you satisfied or are you going back to some of your other stuff?Jul 18, 2010 at 2:06 am #1629994
Thanks for your inquiry. I'll try explain what's up with my gear thoughts.
I have been using a Golite ShangriLa 3 up to now, and will keep it as my wife is coming on a few trips later this summer, and it will be perfect for us both.
I bought the SoloMid in Cuben to try achieve a really low base weight. It is a great shelter, and I've only had it up one night in fine weather, so I can't say too much until I hit a storm or something. SUL involves compromise, and the interior space is half of the SL3, but so is the weight. I found it big enough to do the camp routine and sleep, and had no condensation issues, but over a longer trek, we'll have to see. As a smaller shelter, I noticed it was warmer than the SL3. I really like the SoloMid, and the build quality is first rate, and pitching it is really easy.
I usually use a SMD Serenity bug bivy, but this time used my new MLD Superlight bivy, which was really comfortable. I only use a Rab Top Bag, so the bivy acts like a ground sheet and draught protector, and it worked really well. The fabric was very breathable, and the event foot end is a great idea. I had a TiGoat Ptarmigan which usually left the foot end of my Top Bag damp in the morning. I'm a strange sleeper, high metabolism, so I sleep warm, and didn't have any condensation issues with the bivy. I was able to close it up and tie it to the shelter to give me some breathing room, and it worked great. The mossies were enormous, but didn't bother me in the bivy.
The GG Murmur is fantastic- really comfortable, and holds everything with ease. I use my cut down Ridge Rest as support. I used to have a ULA Circuit, which was overkill for my gear, and I have a ULA Relay, which I'll try on another hike, but I really like the Murmur.
I was sleeping on a combination of the Thermarest Ridge Rest and a GG Thinlight pad under the bivy, which was warm and comfortable. It was the first time I had used the Thinlight- on previous trips, I alwasy got a little cold around my calves and trunk, using the Thinlight prevented this. I have a Warmilte DAM which I will try out soon. I carried a silk inner, which I didn't use, so I won't be taking that again. I usually sleep in my Icebreaker t-shirt 150 and my long sleeved Icebreaker 150, and my hiking shorts and warm socks and my LIM jacket from Hagloffs. In the middle of the night I had to take off the jacket. If I get really cold, I can always put on my rain gear, and use the Murmer inside the Top Bag as a liner. I've done this before and it works- it's a long pack with the extension collar.
I took the Golite umbrella for the midday sun, but don't think I'll bother again. I used to have an Alpkit dry bag, but I've replaced that with a lighter garbage bag, so if it looks rainy, I'll just extend that inside the bag to keep everything dry.
I used to carry a windshirt, but found the ID rainjacket to do the same job, and be more breathable for summit and ridgeline walking.
Other than that, I think I'm dialling in my system just fine, and with a few more tweaks and tests, I'll be there.
I hope this helps.
fredJul 18, 2010 at 4:03 am #1629996
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
The place where you camped – was there a large (and smelly) sheep cave up the hillside under some cliffs? Could it have been on the GR11?
I ask because we remember spending a night by a lake a bit like that with horses chomping around us when we were doing the GR11. Sadly our camera was broken at that stage, so no photos.
CheersJul 18, 2010 at 8:00 am #1630006
The lake was called Estanys de Mascarida de Dalt, and it wasn't near the GR11. I did see a dead horse carcass, but no smelly sheep's cave.
fredJul 18, 2010 at 9:32 am #1630024
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Not long winded at all, fred. I appreciate your insights. BTW, I really love the Grid photo at fredphoto.net.Jul 18, 2010 at 9:52 am #1630029
Good report and great pics. I have been itching to go to Spain for a while and now I have another reason to start planning. Thanks for sharing!
jdJul 21, 2010 at 9:35 am #1630986
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Beautiful pictures and a very interesting landscape. Thanks.Jul 21, 2010 at 11:08 am #1631011
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Beautiful, Fred, thanks for the trip report and photos.
I've been watching the Pyrenees stages of Le Tour ("Now, in hi-def!") and am completely smitten by the amalgam of scenery, history and towns that seem to have grown organically in their locations rather than being mindlessly shoved into place. Lovely.
RickJul 24, 2010 at 3:26 am #1631932
Thanks for all the kind words. Knee imporoving. Here's a few more pics of the trip.
The only way is up!!
Shepherd's hut built into the mountian.
Up in the clouds.
Ridgeline looking back.
fredJul 27, 2010 at 5:53 am #1632567
Your fotos make me so nostalgic. After spending a whole summer in Northern Spain and France, I promised myself that someday I'll have a little sheep farm in the Basque Pyrenees…Aug 1, 2010 at 10:07 pm #1634094
@jumpbackjackLocale: Armpit of California
Those are some great pics and what a beautiful landscape to hike in, I'm jealous! I wanna go, I wanna go, when do we leave?
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