In April 2003, I was joined by my friends Torsten and Charlotte and we set off on a two-day hike in the Pyrenees to reach Lac d’Isabe, in the West Pyrenees – hiking Accous to Laruns. Here’s an account of what we found.
A train ride to Oloron and then the bus up the valley to Accous. Right from the very beginning the views were spectacular. Starting at 450m a.s.l. the first few kilometres were easy, initially following the road. The gentle gradient continued along the edge of the Bois d’ Arapoup. Of course a hike is always more enjoyable when you have great weather.
After passing through some dense forest, the trail passes through rocky pastures with bubbling streams.
There’s snow in them hills… The Montagne de Liard as the path continues upwards. You can now see the saddle which we had to cross.
As it was April, much of the snow had melted, making the path muddy, and in places, dangerous.
First stop on the hike; the Cabane d’ Escurets at around 1700m a.s.l.
And here is the Cabane. A good place to have a break and fill up water bottles before the final climb
Very close to the top of the Col d’ Iseye at 1829 metres. A wonderful view towards the Col du Somport.
And back down to Accous and across the valley. The peaks of the Cirque de Lescun, just visible in the distance.
The final frontier. Here is the arête at the Col d’Iseye, still with plenty of snow and at quite a steep angle. Given the numbers of avalanche-related deaths in France, we played it safe… Here you can see me hiking along the arête to join up with the clearing in the snow further up.
Here are Torsten and Charlotte, hiking over a snowy ridge near the top of a col near Accous.
With this camera angle the hike looks more dangerous.
The view to the South of the Col D’Isaye.
Coming down out of the snow, the going became much easier.
The peak is La Marère at 2221m a.s.l. Beneath it is the Cabane Laiterine – though it was actually quite respectable.
Wow, at 1600m a.s.l., just days after the snow has disappeared from the valley, a bunch of daffodils. Had some crazed florist come up and planted them?
Or perhaps an army of mad florists… The whole valley floor was carpeted with bright yellow daffodils.
Looking back towards La Marère from further down the valley.
With the Pic de la Ténèbre 2344m a.s.l. on the right, and the Pic D’Isabe 2407m a.s.l. on the left, a spectacular view that my little camera couldn’t do justice. Perhaps that’s a good excuse to go back and take some new photos.
And between the two peaks tumbles the Cascade D’Isabe. Can you see my tent on the ridge?
Our original plan was to hike up to the Lac D’Isabe. Alas, this wasn’t possible as there was still a dangerous amount of snow on the slope. There are lumps of ice in the Lac D’Isabe until July as I found out on a later hike.
Is it a bird? Is it a pain?
A better view of the Pic de la Ténèbre and the Cascade d’Isabe in the morning sunlight.
The path led through more beech forest as it wound its way to lower altitudes.
There were still mountain streams to be crossed.
And hiking poles were a definite help on some rough trails. Here is a particularly rough and dangerous one… and the trail is rough and dangerous as well.
Strange to be back on tarmac again.
The final destination – Laruns, from where there is a bus service back to Buzy – from where there is a train service back to Pau.
The bus service in the Vallée d’Aspe is run by SNCF.
Here are some wonderful photos by Gérard Jouvin.