Crossing the Pyrenees on the GR 11

This article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.

Howdy, Y’all!

I am back from my thru-hike of crossing the Spanish Pyrenees along the GR 11. Let me tell you, this trail will not disappoint you in any way! But before diving into my experience, let’s start with some basic information about this trail.

The GR 11 is about 500 miles or 830km long. It starts at the Atlantic Ocean at Cabo de Higuer and follows the mountain range to Cap de Creus at the Mediterranean Sea. This trail has a lot to offer and I can highly recommend hiking it to everyone. That’s because is very diverse in its landscape and not so well known (I think).

map of the GR 11, picture from Cicerone Guidebook

You start at the Atlantic, where the climate is rainy and more humid. The Basque Country is hilly and so green, because of all the water. As you go on to Navarra the terrain is gonna change. It’s the transformation from the green hills of the Basque into the High Pyrenees of Aragon. When you arrived in Aragon, you are in the High Pyrenees and damn, they are stunning! You climb over mountain passes every day and soon enter Catalunya. The high mountains continue till you make a short stopover in Andorra, which is a very tiny country between Spain and France. After Andorra, you climb to the highest pass on the GR 11 and then descend into a hotter climate as you get closer to the Mediterranean Sea. The high mountains change into rolling hills, which become lower and lower in elevation. Then suddenly you are going over the last hill and there it is – the Mediterranean Sea! You made it 😀

But why the GR 11?

There are three different trails that cross the Pyrenees. One of them is the GR 10, which is mainly on the French side then there is the GR 11, which is mainly on the Spanish side and then there is the HRP (High Route Pyrenees), which goes through both France and Spain.

I chose the GR 11 for a few reasons: First of all, it had the perfect length for the time window I had available. Because the GR 10 is about 900km, so a bit too long, and the HRP I thought, was too difficult for me. Furthermore, the weather is supposed to be more stable on the Spanish side rather than on the French side. Another reason for the GR 11 was that there are fewer people hiking it than the GR 10. I didn’t want to hike the HRP because it’s mainly unmarked and stays mostly high where you’re very exposed to the elements. I wasn’t sure if I’m experienced enough. But let’s see, I would love to cross the Pyrenees another time and maybe then on the HRP. Who knows!

In the upcoming time, I will write about my experience on the GR 11!

Stay tuned and Happy Trails 🙂

p.s. my hike was like a rollercoaster for many reasons, find out why in the next post.

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