The journey begins at the 84 bus stop on 4th Ave and Burrard. We have never packed this much for a trip, and maybe never will again.There's a full size suitcase, two Cragalot backpacks, a 30L day pack, Onya Side "diaper bag", Guzzie+Gus stroller, and a Graco car seat. Oh, and Adam, who gets a bit heavier to carry every day..
The various versions of the Catalan flag are on display everywhere. This one is known as the Senyera, a traditional Catalan flag and the official symbol of the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia. In September 2015 the separatists took power in Catalonia, promising to secede from Spain within 18 months
Barcelona will have to wait - it was time to make a beeline for Val d'Aran, in the heart of the Pyrennes. We arrived in Vielha in the middle of a torrential rain and lightning storm, but by morning the weather had cleared, and we set about exploring the tiny villages and walking trails scattered throughout the valley.
Water mains in the Pyrennes often look like this. You tap a high-altitude stream and send it down into town in a steep open chute, in the process creating the MOST AWESOME WATER SLIDE EVER. devinsupertramp, take note.
Artiga de Lin. This little valley high in the mountains is the trailhead for some awesome hiking. There's a refuge (mountain lodge), and a small bar. And cows. Always the cows.
In summer this place is swamped, judging by the size of the overflow parking lot.
This is just a side creek that had to be routed away from the road. I really liked the way the man-made construction blends in with and augments the natural scenery. You could say the same thing about the entire region.
In September, the villages of Val d'Aran were... a bit eerie. Every street and every building is carefully maintained, every street is perfectly clean, yet the windows and doors are all shut, and you can walk around for an hour without seeing a soul.
This region is a ski destination and a summer playground, but outside the two high seasons it's as if everyone locked up and left.
And now for something completely different...
We took a day trip across the border to the French side, to the mountain station Hospice de France, near Bagneres-de-Luchon. At the end of the road is a nice looking gîte d'etape (mountain lodge) with a very popular restaurant, beautiful scenery and various hiking trails. And at least two donkeys, for some reason.
An impressive number of people drove up a steep, winding, narrow road to the Hospice de France not to hike or climb, but simply to have lunch in the restaurant with this view as a backdrop. Honestly, we can't blame them. We were too cheap to eat there, but we did stop for a cold drink before driving back into Spain.
View of the monastery complex from the trail to the cross of Sant Miquel. In addition to hordes of tourists, and pilgrims with actual religious reasons to visit, the site also draws plenty of rock climbers. It's not hard to see why.