Col de la Pierre St. Martin - Valle de Ansó - Jaca - Col du Somport


11/08/2011: Sainte Engrâce - Col de la Pierre Saint Martin (1802 m) - Juán de la Peña Monastery (Jaca) (1200 m): 125 km

Drive up to Col de Soudet where we were able to see the valley where we had been from above, but under clouds! We then drove further on the Col de la Pierre Saint Martin and made a short stop to walk into the karst area that is so characteristic of here. Lunch at the Venta Juan Pito where we had the delicious chistorrada with good red wine. After a siesta further down the mountain we drove over to the Ansó Valley, up to Zuriza then down to the village of Ansó (where we were able to buy fresh bred again). Then further south to Biniés where we saw many birds. Drive to Juna de la Peña Monstery where we spent the night on the bus parking -very quiet and idyllic place (N 42º30.482´ - W 0º39.792´)

12/08/2011: Juan de la Peña Monastery (Jaca) (1200 m)

Visit of the Old and the New Monastery. Both are really very interesting. The old one is embedded in the mountain and the new one has been rebuilt in a very nice way, having a modern architecture on the 1st floor and the excavations are shown under a glass floor. We took the shuttle bus down and came back walking up (entrance fee incl. shuttle bus for both buildings 8,50 € p.p.). After lunch we decided to stay here one more night as it is really a very nice spot. We then walked down to Santa Cruz de la Serós (2,5 hs return, 430 m elevation)  (N 42º30.482´ - W 0º39.792´)

13/08/2011: Juan de la Peña Monastery 1200 m) - Canfranc de la Estación - Tunnel Col du Somport - Camping Urdos ( 700 m): 74 km

First we drove to Jaca, but only to the supermarket Erosky to fill up our refrigerator. Then we drove up to Canfranc de la Estación where there is the enormous train station which was built in 1925 to connect Paris to Madrid, but the line was discontinued after the collapse of a critical bridge. Funding for the rehabilitation of the train station and the rail line has been approved and it looks like they are starting to work on it. The town of Canfranc is pretty lively, much more than one would expect. Drive through the tunnel of Col du Somport -approx. 9 km long- and crossing of the border to France . After that comes a stretch of a canyon that really surprised us because of the narrowed road with hanging rocks. Short after we found a camping site which we then chose to stay at, because we can do laundry here today. (N 42º52.648’ - W 0º33.455’)

Col de Soudet (1520 m): View over the Sainte Engrâce Valley where we hiked through 3 of the numerous canyons

Pic d’Ori

which we climbed a few days ago.

The “cheese shop” at Col de Soudet (left) was closed. Luckily, at Col de la Pierre Saint Martin (right picture) I got cheese -after waking up the owner...

These are special signs for the bicycles that are posted all along the roads going up to the passes.

Walk through the rugged karst area of La Pierre St. Martin northeast of Refugio Belagua. There are many sudden big holes in the landscape. These were formed by infiltration of the water.

In one of these holes we found a dead sheep that obviously fell into it some time ago.

Apéritif and lunch with local specialties like the tasty chistorrada

Drive over to the next valley Valle de Ansó -through a very challenging narrow road with over-hanging walls.

The picturesque village of Ansó

A beautiful entrance door taken in Ansó.

With the help of Evelyn and Christian that we met at the Biniés Gorge we saw a lot of Griffin Vultures and a Bonelli Eagle.

And they gave us the great hint to drive to the Monastery and spend the night at the bus parking lot. —>

Panoramic view over the Pyrenees

Panoramic view over the Pirenees, seen in the evening.

The huge ruine of Canfranc-Estación: it is 241 m long, 75 doors and as many windows as days in the year.

The old railroad tracks are still there on the French side. Most of the railroad stations are still there too, some abandoned but some now used for other means, like Information Centre for the Parque National des Pyrénées, for instance.