A ‘hidden route’ of the Pyrenees of Huesca to enjoy with the family

Travel

Miguel Angel Barroso

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A century has just passed since the death of the indefatigable Parisian Lucien Briet, with whom we lovers of Pyrenean nature have contracted an unpayable debt. Photographer, naturalist and popularizer, his many trips to this side of the mountain range and his insistence to save ecological treasures from human predation was key not only for the creation of the Ordesa National Park on August 16, 1918, but for the knowledge and the protection of that mountainous spine that hides ‘hidden’ jewels, still little trodden by mass tourism, as is the case of the Barrosa Valley.

There are those who think that this place -like Bujaruelo, Otal, the Sierra de Espierba or the lagoons of La Munia,

To cite a few examples, it would deserve to be part of the park map. For now offers a route considered ‘hidden’, since most of the hikers head towards the most famous landmarks in the north of Huesca, such as the nearby Valle de Pineta, capable of outshining any neighbor. The excursion that we propose, tolerated for all audiences (little more than 6 kilometers between round trip and about three hours of calm walking, with a drop of 350 meters), it runs along a wide track surrounded by a pine forest in its initial section -where the steepest slopes are- and a path that is a real delight, next to the Barrosa stream, leading to a spectacular glacial cirque whose irruption rewards all the steps taken.

Mountain mining

The approach to this corner of Huesca refers to the times when there were no large car parks or shuttles to visit natural temples. At kilometer 88 of the A-138 road, past Bielsa (and shortly before the tunnel that leads to France), the forest track leaves to the left, not suitable for vehicle traffic. You have to park right at the beginning; There is not much space, but 500 meters before, next to the right shoulder, a small esplanade opens as an alternative to manage this issue.

The southern cliffs of the valley
The southern cliffs of the valley – M.A.B.

The valley mineral deposits they were exploited from ancient times to the beginning of the 20th century. This mountain mining became an economic engine in the Bielsa region, and it is still possible to visit vestiges in Parzán (house of the engineers, barracks, workshops, laundries …). Along the route there are panels that explain this local industry and also some ruins, such as the lower station of the cable car. After overcoming the steepest section, the views over the eastern slope of the La Munia massif, with its vertical walls and peaks that exceed 3,000 meters, it is impressive. The riverbank offers cool corners to have a snack. A shelter in good magazine condition – good to spend the night or to have a roof in the event of a storm – marks the end of our walk (we have the return), unless someone with more ambition and legs wants to reach the port of Barrosa, at 2,534 meters, or even go further.

As we advance, the pines begin to lose their size and disperse, while geology claims its prominence: large blocks of stone that, if they could speak, would tell us about the cataclysms they witnessed. The magnificence and solitude of the setting invite unhurried contemplation: paying attention, it is likely that we will catch a marmot sniffing out of their rock shelters or their burrows in the meadow – usually we are first alerted by their whistling or high-pitched bark- , some sarrio defying gravity on the slopes of the cliffs or, outlined in the sky, the silhouette of a lammergeier.

Bielsa and the Pineta Valley

Let the lead actor have a supporting role for once. Very close to our route is the monumental Pineta Valley, one of the grounds of the Ordesa National Park, with several alternatives ranging from the affordable excursion to the Llanos de La Larri to the vertiginous ascent to the Balcón de Pineta to contemplate the glacier of the Monte Perdido (will this geological relic survive us?) And Lake Marboré. More information about these routes near Bielsa and some more through the mountain villages, at www.bielsa.com

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