A tough but superlartive day. Start off early from the Refugi de L'illa and make your way to the Collada des Pessons, at 2,810m it is the highest point of the entire Coronallacs trail. Enjoy views to the French and Catalan peaks in the distance, before beginning a long descent back to civillization and the town of Bordes. Continue to ascend and descend until you reach the Refugi de Juclà.
Even though today is not statistically the most lengthy or hilly day, it could be considered the toughest day due to the rocky terrain and steep ascents which can be tiring and makes for slow progress. Start early and take plenty of pauses to catch your breath and enjoy the beautiful scenery as you go. Start with a stiff but relatively short ascent from the Refugi to the Collada del Pessons. On a clear day you will see over to France and Catalonia, and even the peaks of Canigou (in France, 2,784m) and Pica d'Estats (Catalonia's highest peak at 3,143m). When you are ready to move on, begin the long rocky descent from the col. You are rewarded with an almost bird's eye view over approx. 16 blue lakes. Arrive at the biggest lake and a restaurant. Here the terrain changes from boulder-strewn path to wide gravel jeep track as you enter a ski area. Undulate on the road for a while before descending through a woodland track to the road at Bordes d'Envalira.
Here you can get rid of any rubbish you have accumulated in your rucksack as there is a bin at the small parking area next to the trail. From here it's an extremely steep slog up a grassy path cut into the hillside. Slow your pace right down and try to zigzag to make the going a bit easier. Your next objective is the Port Dret (2,565m) which means 'steep slopes' and you'll understand why! From here, follow a undulating path to Pas de les Vaques (2,572). Descend to the beautiful valley Siscaro, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and wildflowers. Another steep and long ascent -some parts have chains to help you navigate the particularly tricky sections of the path, and some very light scrambling is required. Finally you arrive to the Refugi Juclà, a welcome site after a long yet rewarding day on the trail.
This is a tough day, in my opinion it is the hardest of the entire trail. Start early, keep a steady, manageable pace and take plenty of short breaks to refuel.
Take particular care on the descent from Collada dels Pessons as it is very steep with many loose rocks about. Be careful not to dislodge any rocks that could fall and hit a walker below you. Similarily, be aware of people walking above you and any loose scree that could be coming your way.
The road at Bordes d'Envalira provides an obvious escape route should the weather be too bad to continue, or for whatever reason someone in your party cannot complete the trek to the hut. From Bordes d'Envalira you can catch a bus to Andorra la Vella (capital). It runs every 60 minutes and timetables can be found here: http://visitandorra.com/en/the-country/before-you-arrive/get-around-your-way/public-transport-national-regular-lines/ Check for line L4B Soldeu/Andorra La Vella
Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains - always be prepared and carry appropriate clothing; warm as well as waterproof layers, hat and gloves etc. Please see your information pack for a detailed packing list.
Today you will be walking past a few different areas where cows graze. Although generally very docile and used to walkers, keep your distance and never turn your back on a cow that is behaving strangely or aggresive. Be particularly vigilant around cows with calves.
Good waterproof boots are a must and walking poles are highly recommended, they are helpful not only for managing ascents and descents but also to help with the river crossings. Make sure to bring plenty of water and a snack or packed lunch.
Although you will be passing a restaurant today, as well as the town of Bordes d'Envalira, you should bring a packed lunch/snacks with you today as you will not be have time to make a restaurant lunch stop. Order a packed lunch from the refuge upon arrival (payable locally). There is a spring available for topping up your water today, but we still recommend carrying 2 - 3 litres of water per person and maybe more on a particularly hot day, as this is a long and demanding day.
Points of Interest
Keep your eyes peeled for Golden Eagles when you arrive at the Siscaro Valley as it is a favourite hunting ground for them. Soaring Golden Eagles hold their wings flat with a slight upward angle and adults are all dark underneath. They have a long and prominent head and neck and even from a distance the paler golden nape feathers can often be seen. Marmots will most definitely be heard here (listen for short, loud,l repetitive whistles) but unlikely seen, they like to keep a low-profile since they are the favoured prey of the aforementioned eagles!
Today you may spot the yellow and/or blue monkshood (Aconitum). Called so due its shape. Although these flowers looks attractive they are highly poisonous! You may also come across the Pyrenean Lilly (Lilium Pyrenaicum), exclusive to the Pyrenees it has six large yellow outwardly curled petals hanging downwards.
As well as following a short section of the GR7, today you will mostly be following the GRP (red and yellow waymarkers). This trail circles the entire principality over aprox 120 km and involves staying at unmanned as well as manned huts. You may well come across some GRP walkers as you follow the Coronallacs trail.