The 14th stage of the Trans-Pyrenees Crossing reveals the river valley of Madriu, which you will travel from its headwaters, where you will start the stage, right besides l'Illa Lake, until its lower part. This valley is noted for its excellent state of preservation and the great balance that has been established for centuries between natural and human resources, such as livestock, agriculture and mining. During the second half of the stage, you will leave behind the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley and walk to the popular Engolasters Lake and the town of Encamp, the end of the stage.
Considerable. Derived from the length and ascent to overcome. This stage does not have any technical difficulties.
In winter and spring, you will encounter snow and ice at high altitudes.
No special equipment required.
Andorra. 1:50.000. Editorial Alpina.
Let's start the 14th stage of the Trans-Pyrenees Crossing at the (1) l'Illa Refuge (0:00 - 2,480m), which is located at the top of the Madriu Valley or Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. This valley has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the category of Cultural Heritage, due to the extraordinary integration between the natural environment and traditional human uses. During the first two thirds of the stage you will go down this magnificent glacial valley, while walking along beautiful mountain trails and old paved roads.
At the refuge leave l'Illa Lake and begin to descend the path that is clearly defined and signposted, which passes along Rodó Lake and Bova Lake. This stretch coincides with the GR 7, which is a historic trail that crosses all of Europe until reaching Andalusia, and the GRP high mountain route. Soon you will pas along the small (2) Riu dels Orris Refuge (0:40 - 2,230m), which has six beds available. Cross the spot at the l'Ingla Plains and leave behind the Caitana Fountain. Gradually the valley turns to the right, moving towards the NW.
Continue the descent through the valley and pass the (3) Fontverd Refuge (1:45 - 1,880m), another open shelter that can be useful if needed. It will not take too long to reach (4) Cortals de Ràmio (2:15 - 1,640m). At this point you will find the GR 11-10 that goes down Perafita Hill. Also at this point, you will leave the road passing through the valley and take a path that climbs a few meters on its northern side (N). Then you will arrive at (5) Jovell Hill (2:35 - 1,780m).
At Jovell Hill you will definitively leave behind the Madriu Valley and start the last part of the stage. Now you will go down a wooded area straight towards the north. Through the trees to your left you can see the small town of Cortals del Soque and Sant Miquel d'Engolasters. You will enter a wide dirt track and walk a few metres until reaching a bend in the road which accesses Engolasters Lake. Walk some 500m on a slight ascent towards the car park of (6) Engolasters Lake (3:25 - 1,620m). From this point we head down towards the lake and go around its eastern side. Once you reach the head of the lake (extreme NE) take the old Encamp road to Engolasters, which directly descends to the town (7) of Encamp (4:20 - 1,270m), the final part of the stage.
Walking the sensational Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley.
Visiting Engolasters Lake, which, although it has become a much visited tourist attraction, still retains some of its charm.
Many legends tell us about the origin of Engolasters Lake? It is said that where the lake is now there was a very rich and poignant town, but its inhabitants were selfish and not very charitable. As a punishment, God made water whirlwind down from the mountains to "swallow" the town and create a new lake. That is why it is called Engolasters Lake.
The huts, dry stone walls, terraces, the remains of ancient forges and the cobbled paths of the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. Amid an exceptional natural environment, everything here reminds us of the extraordinary balance that has been maintained for centuries between nature and human activity.
The Trans-Pyrenees Crossing GR 11-10 variant goes to Cortals de Ràmio. This variant starts at the cabin in Gavilanes (stage 13), down through Llosa Valley, passing through the refuge of Cap del Rec, the lakes of Pera and Perafita Hill.