The Beautiful Vallee d'Ossoue from Gavarnie

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Wednesday 22 October 2014

The Beautiful Vallee d'Ossoue from Gavarnie

Another sunny day dawned on Wednesday in the Haute Pyrenees and we were eager to explore the peaks lying to the north east of Gavarnie that we had looked on from Pic de Tentes the previous afternoon. Not too eager, however, since our legs were a little tired from the previous days bike ride and as the morning slowly turned into the afternoon we realised that we had better get started before the sun dipped behind the mountains once more.

The summit of Vignale at 3298m, sitting in the middle of a high ridge several kilometres long, was the giant of the area we wanted to explore, its slopes containing one of the few Pyrenean glaciers we had seen (although it was still small compared to the monumental ice flows we had enjoyed in Switzerland). It was the Glacier d'Ossoue, at the head of the valley which bears its name that was our destination. Had we set off with the sunrise it would probably have been possible to hike all the way there and back in a single day, however, setting off in mid-afternoon we planned to cycle as far as possible up the valley along the narrow winding road which climbed to 1800m before continuing on foot.

After descending a couple of hundred metres from our aire to pick up the start of the road we climbed steeply at first, then more gently, following the river gorge which was stunningly beautful in the late autumn sunshine. Flanked on the north side by vertical rocky slopes which towered above the road and on the south side by red and golden forests with the sunlight reflecting off the leaves, it had a magical atmosphere, with the summit of Vignale visible in the distance.

Somewhat surprisingly the road turned out not to be a road all the way, switching to a stony track after 5km at around 1600m and sadly forcing us to give up on the idea of making it all the way to the glacier that day. Nevermind, it was still an amazing place, and we continued on foot regardless through the remote, grassy plains feeling a million miles from any sort of civilisation. It felt like the perfect setting to escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world.

At 1800m we reached a lake sitting between two steep sided cliffs that converged to a waterfall and as we were aware that our shadows were lengthening fast we decided this was far enough for today. Taking quarter of an hour just to sit and feel the peace of the setting, we just wished we could have stayed all night and watched the sun set fully over the hills. However, with the air cooling fast we knew we didn't have the gear with us for that today (better packing required next time).

As we strolled back to the bikes we felt so fortunate to have chosen this route today. Although we hadn't travelled far, or even for very long due to our late start, it had felt like a perfect place to be. So much so that even the freezing cold cycle descent at the end felt well worth it.

Other Related Posts:
Road Cycling in the Hautes-Pyrénées - The Most Famous & Difficult Climbs of the Tour de France

Hiking in the Hautes-Pyrénées & the Pyrénées National Park - Gavarnie & Cauterets

7 Spectacular Cycling Climbs From Vallée d'Aure, Hautes-Pyrénées - Arreau & Saint-Lary-Soulan

See All Our Cycling Climbs in the Pyrenees

See all Our Hikes in the Pyrenees

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