When my memory goes back to the Pyrenees, the first thing I think of is that gorgeous song "HURT" covered by Johnny Cash. I remember that particular moment when we were driving in a van down the mountains and the song came out of Albert's player. Imagine a profound effect of the melody if there is pure wild nature surrounding you. Tremendous snow-capped mountains rise along both sides of the road and you feel all of this in the deepest corner of your soul. You feel what has been happening from the very beginning and what is going to happen, simultaneously. It covers your mind and gets you deeper and deeper into the feelings. That moment we experienced this feeling together and we asked Albert to repeat the song. If only we could ask to repeat everything... That's why I like traveling - you feel only the things that are real.

In the English version of the story I'm not going to follow events in their explicit historical order. I will start from the point when the song "Hurt" was played and go through the most sensitive parts of the whole trip adhering to the order that my memory recalls.

Chapter 1. An Amazing Place

On the 4th day of the trip we were going to the river Cinca which was located in the west part of Catalunya. As I had expected Cinca was supposed to be a rather reliable river with good water level for rafting. However, when we arrived to the valley it was quite obvious the big river no longer existed. Our Spanish guide Albert immediately suggested moving to the "Amazing Place" where he had used to stay for the night. After driving up the mountains for one hour we reached a point of 1760 meters. Along the way Albert showed us some waterfalls and canyons of the Cincetta river that he had travelled across on his kayak. It was unbelievable how he had jumped down from 10-15 meters into such narrow canyons that were also full of stones.

The point of destination where we ended up was absolutely amazing. We stopped among acute snow-covered peaks on the high mountain which during the winter was always used to conduct weather observations. The name of the place was "Refugio Viados." Despite our complete isolation we found a house, with 6 beds inside, that was open to us. It was a fantastic peculiarity in the Pyrenees that even phones didn't catch any signal there. The night on the mountain was amazing - we had a real bonfire till the early morning and made an outstanding friend.

At 10 pm when we were cooking dinner one man appeared on the slope of the mountain. In spite of carrying a big green backpack he didn't look like a typical tourist. He had a long beard and his hair was shoulder-length. His light blue eyes and fair face reminded us the Christ. Anders, as he said his name was, shared the house with us that night. We spent a long time singing songs and talking, Anders even played native Swedish melodies for us. He told as that he was a free-spirited actor who was seeking the meaning of life.

It is really funny. Anders, I hope you are reading the report, as we've promised I'm sending you a link. You should know, we are interested in the continuation of your story. Are you still in Spain? You might be surprised but we found an enormous photo of you in the historical center of BCN. Nobody except you can make it clear now. Is it really you in the advert?

Anders, going back to the song, two weeks after the trip Max pointed out to us that in the refrain we should have said "sweetest friend " instead of "Swedish friend" as we had originally assumed. Thus new "Russian" version of the song has been created. We wish you a good health, keep closer to rivers in other countries, it would be nice to see you again.

I've just forgotten about an avalanche and Alex's story. He and Nastya got to the Amazing Place separately from us. We still can't believe how they did it in the middle of the night. They did it even without a navigator and phone, only following the previous oral explanations and signs on the roads with wood branches. I wouldn't drive there even it is light day - 40 km by a narrow road with steep slopes all the time, they are crazy. Of cause we didn't expect to see anyone else in the dark night. We thought that Alex would go to a hotel, but suddenly we heard a whistle down the hill. It was Alex looking for us. They had tried crossing the Pyrenees from the previous point by taking the shortest route. The effort hadn't been successful due to the avalanche that had blocked the road. Anyway they were the heroes of the day as eventually they had found us.

Chapter 2. River Noguera Pallaresa

In our common judgment 2 days in the Noguera Pallaresa river we had the most exciting rafting. It is difficult to say that other rivers weren't so beautiful, actually they had rather more gorgeous valleys, but the rapids were definitely better on Noguera.

Fortunately Noguera Pallaresa was the river where we arrived first and spent the longest time doing rafting. We did upper section once (from a dam to Llavorsy village) for warming up. Max and Ramiro hadn’t used to handle a catamaran before thus the section was rather interesting for them. One time we jumped down through a little dam where Max and Ramiro had figured out that sometimes the catamaran wasn't steered as well as it was supposed to.

Both the middle and down sections were astonishing. We appreciated Albert’s guidance enormously. He really loves the Pyrenees and white water. We are happy and proud of our friendship with this guy. Whenever you want to do rafting Albert always fancies getting taking part. It is truth to say Noguera Pallaresa is the Albert’s home, he is living there, he knows each stone within the river. We didn’t spend any time working out what to do, Albert showed each rapid or portage. Finally the most effective middle section we had repeated 4 times, fantastic. Now I remember all features inside the "Washing machine" - one of the remarkable rapids in the river. It was the first time when I had realized that sometimes isn't necessary to prepare so carefully for the trip if we have such skillful and awesome guide as Albert. Great Thanks, Albert, you are the real professional. We will recommend you to everyone who goes to the Pyrenees.

Here I can't get out of the fact that it was first time when we traveled through Europe. As a result we had to use campings and follow most of the essential local rules. In my opinion campings in the Noguera's valley were the most memorable. We had all the necessary equipment - gas, carbon, a barbeque, even a cooker and usually we hadn't any neighbors. Plains and terranes were fantastic everywhere - it is a rule of the Pyrenees, be aware. I remember when Alex and Nastya joined our company we had an outstanding barbecue and spent the night singing Russian songs as loud as our throats allowed.

The down section of the river includes an absolutely fantastic canyon. Although there are no serious rapids you would be amazed looking around. Rocks are very high (up to 400m) and colorful, it is possible to point out geological events – folders, faults, unconformities. It's as if you were inside the geological history, it is really worth visiting.

Chapter 3. River Gallego

The Gallego river was the last one we visited. We spent 2 nights there and got used to drinking Spanish beer as well as "Carajillo". Carajillo is a kind of coffee that is blended with alcoholic substance like whisky or brandy. As long as you drinking that stuff you are getting more and more cheerful without falling asleep. A good invention.

I imposed the Gallego river after the Noguera Pallaresa in my memory due to 3 reasons - rapids, rocks and olive & almond trees. Here we did a good rafting; the river is located in Aragon region and some guides claim this river as the best one for rafting in the whole of Spain. It was the first place where we saw so many tourists who were basically climbers and kayakers. Look at the photos below -I had never seen such fantastic red rocks. The place is also used for birds watching (called gryphons) which live on the mountain's peaks. The last evening we walked to the base of the rocks and found enormous olive trees. Actually it was the very first time when we made our camp within olive and almond gardens. We gathered almonds just inside the camp above our heads. I would never foresee something like that.

Chapter 4. River Ara

The Ara river is located inside the national park. The nature around doesn't give any chance to find yourself on the Earth planet. Looking at the mountains your imagination sometimes expects a flying dinosaur. Snow caps make the picture completely finished. The next fantastic feature is THE color of the water. I could only compare it with the color of the ocean around either Seychelles or Maldive islands. It is pure light blue to turquoise blue and absolutely clean that you are able to see everything under the water. The water level wasn't quite high but it was enough for the rafting. Following the recommendations of Albert we did only the most interesting section of the river twice. The section included gorgeous long narrow canyon full of the rapids. We didn't have any chance to take any photos within the canyon but Albert used an action camera. I hope he will find time to sort out the video and post it on the web in the nearest future.

In the evening Albert pointed out to us one interesting and difficult rapid in the adjacent river. It was a long 50-60 meters slide with a very steep slope at the end. Albert came up with an idea to run the section by catamaran but unfortunately we refused. Partly the rapid didn't seem so dangerous but if you make any mistake in the middle you will lose the chance for а happy end. Meanwhile Albert was full of desire to run the slide and he did it by kayak without any hesitations. Good job, we were amazed with his skills both of steering the kayak and climbing along the rocks with the kayak. Albert, you are a real Spider-Kayaker!

Chapter 5. The End

When Albert dropped us off to the BCN airport the water trip was finished. During the week we drove up to 2000 km together and floated up to 200 km down the rivers. An absolutely awesome time, it will live in my memory forever. One more time thank you Albert for everything you did for us, I really hope we will meet in future, there is an expression here in Russia that "the Earth is actually round" thus we ever have some chance to meet ;).

Albert exited the airport. Meanwhile it was only the half of the time that we were supposed to spend in Spain. The next story began. The story about Gerona, Figueres, Salou, Montserrat and Barcelona. We visited the famous Port Aventura and Dali's museum, we enjoyed the sea in Salou and tasty food wherever we went. If you haven't been to Spain don't hesitate to visit, It's got masses to offer: great rivers, famous places, delicious food & wine and of course outstanding people.

P.S. Thanks to everyone for the amazing time in Pyrenees!

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Реки Придонья Первые байдарочные походы 1997-2000гг

Корни нашей походной культуры заложены Мешковым А.Б. на реках Медведица, Хопер и Дон.


Центральная Россия Походы выходного дня из Москвы

Блок посвыщенный рекам Подмосковья и близлежащих областей - Рязанской, Владимирской, Смоленской и тп.


Карелия Сказочные места, посетили не раз!

Очень привлекательные и легкодоступные реки для сплавов. Уксунйоки, Шуя Южная, Шуя Северная и куча планов!