Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Picos de Europa National Park – Spain

Picos de Europa is a mountain range located in the north of Spain, between Asturias and Leon with max altitudes around the 2500 m.  Locally are called the Little Alps for its similitude with those. If there are something that really took my attention is the brutality of the elevation profile. It moves from 400 to 2500 very quickly, keep this in mind!! It is not an easy walk.

I did a 3 days tour in the occidental side of the range. Something getting popular now a days is to do a full tour called the ring, I leave you a link here. You can get an idea of Picos with this video, thanks to anillo Xtreme:

A good place to start is Cain; you get inside the gorge following an old water canal system used for a hydroelectric power plant. It follows the Cares River. This is a very tourist place for a reason:

Cares Gorge

Cares Gorge

To get into the occidental side you need to turn left, get the re-conquer trail ( GR 202 ) and gain 1000 m up to Sierra Buena pass. On the way up there are different shepherd houses where they live with their cows in summer time. Those are a good place to have a break and refill the water. If you do this in a morning during the summer time you would get overheat for the sun orientation, it gets quite hot.  

Sierra Buena Pass

The way down to Covadonga Lakes is quite easy. You have a restaurant to resupply and a bit further a Refuge to stay the night. I did not book and  I was lucky enough that they put  a mattress in the middle of the restaurant when the last costumer left, book in advance!

The second day from the lakes to Vegaredonda refuge is more difficult by far.The trail ( PR 5 ) disappear in the rocks and it get difficult to navigate if it’s your first time over here, I got lost a couple of times and depending of the snow melt you will have to cross some ice shots with some difficulty without ice axe or crampons. But this also has the most rewarding views.

If you bring your own tarp / tent I would recommend you to camp in Vega Huerta, there is a creek but not food available. The ways down to the refuge goes through an abrupt descent, after gets easy in the woods to reach Vegabano. It took me 12 hours the second day with not many brakes.

Vega Huerta

View from Vegabano refuge

The third day back to Cain is an easy and pleasant walk between the woods, without little altitude. . Keep in mind that Spain is more than sun and beach. Picos is a good example, also  great food and festivals  all around this area. I hope you Enjoy!

the Woods around Valdeon

1 comment:

  1. hey adrian, did you rent a car and drive from Bilbao to Cain?