In a privileged and breathtaking location, it is the only Spanish Pyrenees Nature Park, bathed by the lake of San Mauricio.
Presumably the reader cares little about what happened in the Quaternary. Until they get to Aigüestortes, of course. Once there, you will marvel and wonder how it is that this mountain was carved with such dizzying peaks over 3,000 meters high, almost cut with a knife. The blame lies with the Quaternary. At that time, glaciers cut stone like a knife through butter and nothing stopped them. They made way for the streams and reservoirs that have later given the park the name of Aigüestortes, meaning no more than "crooked water", thanks to the twisting and winding waters along these routes.
The place is virtually untouched thanks to its inaccessibility. So much so that in the Valle de Arán, its people have their own language and culture (Aranese) after centuries of little contact with their neighbours. If the language remained, so did the wildlife: the mythical bearded vulture (named ‘quebrantahuesos’ – bone breaker, for its ability to break the bones of dead animals and feed on their marrow), or the grouse (a gallinaceous species with a beautiful song) are two of the animals that can be found in its forests.
The slopes are such that, along the same route, one can find three different forest types. At the beginning of the climb, the forests are deciduous, with hazel, oak and ash. Half way we find the realm of the black pine, evergreen, and finally, as we approach the peaks, the trees disappear and the place is dominated by pastures for the chamois, known in the region as ‘Isards’.
We leave the final surprise for last: the lucky ones might get a chance to see one of the most beautiful animals on the planet, the brown bear, which occasionally comes to the nature park from its French refuges.
Photos: Fototeca CENEAM (24437: José Luis Rodríguez, 28849: Oriol Alemany, 28860: Oriol Alemany, 28657: Oriol Alemany, 28864: Oriol Alemany, 28848: Oriol Alemany)
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