Sierra de Guara

Hiking near Alquézar
On a rainy day we go for a hike near Alquézar. We can recommend the GR11 from the village to the old bridge over Río Vero. You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view on the village and the light blue water of the river.
Footpath “Passarellas” to Río Vero is beautiful as well.

101
Bridge over river Vero, near Alquézar.

Hiking through the Mascún valley
We get up early today and drive to Rodellar for a day hike in the Mascún valley. We arrive at the parking where Guardia Civil is checking all campers. Sleeping in a camper on the parking is forbidden. We grab our backpacks, put on our shoes and are about to leave when a jeep of Guardia Civil pulls over. Please show us your passports, the officer asks us, because sleeping on the parking is forbidden. We tell him that we’ve just arrived from Alquézar and with some effort we finally convince him we didn’t sleep here. A strange start of the day.

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The Mascún has to be crossed a few times.

We want to hike from Rodellar to Otín, descend to the valley and return to Rodellar along the river. According to our map this is possible.
Contrary to our map we don’t have to cross the river twice, but about ten times. Then the path ascends to Otín. Signs are scarse, but it’s easy to find the way. In Otín we arrive at a crossroad, where we follow the sign “Bco Mascún por Turmo”. According to our map. We don’t believe it’s possible for a footpath to descend all the way to the valley floor, it’s thát steep. But there really is a path. Unfortunately this path stops at the river. The route as shown on the map goes through the water. For us there is only one way back: the same way we came.

204
The Mascún valley.

211
The Mascún valley.

Tozal de Guara
Today we’re going to mountain top Tozal de Guara. We’ll be using the same map as yesterday.
We leave our car at Refugio Peña Guara, next to the public road. Don’t drive over the weir to the high parking that is shown on the map. When we returned in the evening the barrier was closed and locked!
We walk to the parking near Punta Tejeria, where a footpath starts in between two cairns. Then a dirtroad to Solencio Fabana where the climb to the north starts.

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Bushwhacking Castellones.

Nobody ever walks this path. It is overgrown with bushes that have big thorns. We tear our calves a lot. Near Raso de las Viboras we see some ibex run away. From here we follow cairns and red ribbons to stay on the right course. The correct path still can’t be found easily between all the animal tracks, but we’re still hopeful. Suddenly we spot a sign in the most steep part of the mountain: Collado de Petreñales. No idea why the sign is there, but apparently we’re on the right track. Through loose gravel we climb higher to the top until it is so steep we can’t continu. First it took us very long because of the bushwhacking, now it is taking very long because of the steepness. One step up and we’re gliding half-a-step back. It’s getting too late to reach the top and we decide to turn around.

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A sign in the middle of nowhere.

We’re descending through the gravel, when we spot another person behind us. He wants to return to the weir via the route we ascended, but after he hears our story he doesn’t want to anymore. On the other side of the mountain there is a good path he tells us. That is how he ascended. He has the same map as ours and requested information about the area from a friend of him. That friend had already confirmed that there is no footpath the way we ascended. Apparently we’re very good in finding footpaths that are only shown on maps but don’t exist in the real world.

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We try to go to the top again via the path that this guy showed us, but it is really too late to try. We continu walking until we have a view on the Pyrenees, eat a chocolate bar, take a picture and then return via the path that was shown to us.
Half past eight we arrive at our car. Exhausted.

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Tozal de Guara.

Information about the map we used.
The routes shown on the map are not accurate. Regularly roads drawn on the map show to be after a bridge, but in reality they are in front of that bridge. Contours shown the altitude are sometimes off by 100 m to 150 m. Some routes are drawn, but nobody walks them and are so overgrown that they cannot be hiked in a normal pace.
We were told that this area is being developed to be more touristic only since about 15 years. That confirms our first impression of our map. It looks like a hiking map was made, then refined, but the quality cannot be compared to a French IGN map. Most people we met during our hikes use a route from a guidebook, they are not using the map. The routes from the guidebook are used by a lot of people and mostly indicated by signs.
Click here to see all photographs.

Bibliography

Editorial Pirineo, Cartas Pirineo, 1 : 40 000, Sierra and Canyons of Guara Park

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