Refuge Estagnous

First time we have set an alarm this morning. Final packing of bags, making sandwiches and closing up shop before heading on our adventure.

Fantastic early morning drive over the Col de la Core and into the Bethmale Valley. The views going up to the col were fantastic with cloud in the valley and the early morning sun creeping over the mountains slowly unveiling the farms and forests.

Sun rise AriegeSun rise Ariege 

Parked up the van at the Cabane de Pla de la Lau 930m and set off in the shade up the wooded valley following the stream towards the Refuge des Estagnous.2245m. The waterfall below the Refuge de Caussis looked impassable from a distance but the path wound its way up the slabs to the left of the cascade.

   

We reached the Estagnous for our picnic lunch having taken in amazing views of Etang Rond on the way up. Over lunch however the clouds started swirling in and out but we decided to go up Mont Valier 2838m in the hope of catching a clear spell at the top.an hour and a half later we found ourselves at the summit in thick cloud. Had to take a photo and then wait for twenty minutes to see if it would clear. Once again Mother Nature smiled on us and the cloud receded to reveal amazing views and cloudscapes.

Etang RondEtang Rond  Ascent of ValierAscent of Valier On the SummitOn the Summit

Satisfied we trundled back down to the Refuge where we were booked in.

Having seen virtually nobody all day we were looking forward to a cosy, quiet night in the mountains. Descending the screes near the hut we heard human voices, though it could have been one very volumous voice having been plunged into very cold water. Hopes of solitude were dashed when we saw a group of 20 odd French teenagers on the terrace of the Refuge. The Guardians took pity on us and gave us a room to ourselves. The only reason we got the reservation was that the school group had booked as they would normally only open the Refuge at weekends this late in the season. We put our thermals on and played cards gradually getting colder in the unheated hut while we waited ‘til dinner.

Soup followed by Veal stew and rice, cheese and chocolate pots; all swilled down with a bottle of wine then straight to bed to warm up.

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