Lung-Ta (literally, “Wind Horse”) is the name of the Tibetan prayer flags, adorned with a horse symbolizing the inner wind, the power of desire, and personal goals. The 8 guarded mountain refuges of the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park could not have chosen a better name and logo for the circular route connecting them. The Cavalls del Vent traverse is a must for trekking lovers and trail runners, a spectacular journey through one of the biggest and most diverse protected areas in Catalunya. Adaptable to different levels as it is, it always allows for self-testing while connecting with nature: honoring the flag it is named after, it offers a space for introspection, self-challenge, and personal improvement. And for laughter and bond reinforcement as well, of course!
84 km and 5.600 m of positive slope could intimidate anyone. However, the route has no great technical difficulty, and it can be split into as many as 8 stages which are much more feasible. The longest distance between two shelters is the 16 km separating the huts of Gresolet and Sant Jordi, or Niu de l’Àguila and Serrat de les Esposes. Nevertheless, others –as Gresolet and Lluís Estasen– are barely 4 km apart. Being a circular route with refuges scattered all along it, it is extremely easy to adjust to each one’s needs: you can start wherever you want –although not all the shelters are accessible by a regular car– and it can be done at different rates. To split the journey in 5 stages (4 nights) of 15 to 20 km each allows medium-level trekkers to walk the path placidly, with day trips of about 8 hours –including the breaks and the mandatory stops to admire and photograph the landscape. This is the proposal of the guided tours. The most vigorous and tough walkers usually complete it in 3 days. This means travelling nearly 30 km a day, which is equivalent to 9 or 10 hours of effective walking. And, then, we have the runners, who are out of this world and are back home in merely a day and a half. Just thinking of it makes me pant.
The way I see it, it is better to make a route plan that allows you to dawdle about gazing at the landscape and relishing the most magical hideouts of the Park. If the first time you do the traverse you need to worry about being late for dinner at the shelter and, in your attempt to hurry, you lack time to rise your sight from your feet, then you will miss a lot. My advice: take your time to discover Cavalls del Vent. You can always do it again in 3 stages when you already know the way! Whether you do it in 3, 5 or 7 days, one thing is for sure: you won’t get bored. If there is something special about the Cadí-Moixeró, it is its extraordinary diversity of habitats, landscapes and views.
On its southern side, the route takes us around the mythical Pedraforca,
with the Lluís Estasen shelter at its feet, wrapped in rock, mountain pine, and Scots pine. On the other hand, the closest hut –Gresolet– is down in a crossed-by-streams valley, right in the border of a silver fir forest and of an amazing beech forest. The latter, which overflows monumental, catalogued trees, climbs through the wet slope up to Coll de la Bauma. There, we rencounter the Scots pine forest, drier, and much more typical of the mid-altitude mountain. The Gresolet valley, with its beech forest and sprinkled with other deciduous trees as oaks and rowans, is of breathtaking beauty in fall, which is the best season to walk around it. Even at the end of September, you can already be delighted by the polychromatic scenery of this corner of the Park, of high ecological value.
Still on the Berguedà side of the mountain chain, the trek crosses another impressive beech forest, very well conserved, in the stretch between the shelters of Sant Jordi and Rebost. Nevertheless –and to keep you from growing uninterested–, amidst the two forests the route passes through another of the enchanting hideouts of the area, completely different: the Empedrats gorge, an imposing karstic landscape that the Pendís stream has patiently dug into the rock. Always into the woods –half pine, half riparian vegetation– and leaping from stone to stone, you follow the rush, with its pools and falls. It is worth taking a short detour to the Bullidor de la Llet, a natural spring that, when carrying enough water, emanates from the stone wall with such a strength that it is totally white. Spring and fall are the best seasons to walk through this part of the path, since it is when the flow is higher, making it most spectacular. In fall, on top of that, you will be charmed by the colors of the riparian forest.
If, even so, you get tired of woods, do not fear: the path climbs both the Moixeró and the Cadí, taking us to open landscapes, pure alpine, wherefrom you can relish magnificent views over Berguedà and Cerdanya and, on clear days, over half Catalunya. If you are lucky, through the alpine meadows and the crest you will enjoy the company of flocks of chamois, golden eagles, vultures and some distracted marmots. If you bring yourself to, you can climb the Penyes Altes de Moixeró (2.279 m) and the Tosa (2.537 m), right above the Niu de l’Àguila shelter.
On the northern face of the chain, you will find astonishing rocky hillsides between the refuges of Niu and Serrat de les Esposes and between Cortals de l’Ingla and Prat d’Aguiló as well. Also, the climb –or descent, it’s up to you– separating Prat d’Aguiló and the Pas de Gosolans pass (2.430 m), which connects Cerdanya and Berguedà, will be through one of the sheer rocky slopes of the Cadí’s northern side. Yet, it’s not all rocky hillsides, of course! Amidst Serrat de les Esposes and Cortals you will find a lovely stroll through woods and streams, and all along your way across the Ceretan slope of the Cadí-Moixeró you will alternate forests –mainly dominated by mountain pine–, bucolic meadows and bare mountain crests. And, particularly around Prat d’Aguiló, you will be able to admire the impressive stone walls of Cadí, challenge for climbers.
There’s no way to get bored! The Cavalls del Vent route has landscapes and hideouts for every taste, and it is never too long. You only need to be a lover of nature and to enjoy walking, to be aware of your own limitations and to adjust the number of stages to each one’s level, in order to enjoy a wonderful experience. In such a rich, diverse and dynamic environment as the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park, I can guarantee you will stay wanting to repeat, maybe on another season, maybe faster, maybe with a different company.
For the first time, please take a couple of recommendations: don’t be in a hurry and, if you have little trekking experience, hire the guided route to feel safer and learn a lot about the area on your way! And, especially, choose carefully the time of the year: in summer the Pyrenees are crowded, and in winter it’s cold and days are short, and most refuges are shut. It’s true that –except for Niu de l’Àguila and Gresolet– they have a free part that you may use if the shelter is shut, but still, if you can get a warm shower and a bowl of soup… In my opinion, the initiation to this traverse is much better in spring or in fall. Right now, for instance. It’s not cold yet, the Park begins to get spotted of red, ochre and yellow, there’s not much people, and, until the 12th of October, the refuges are open. What are you waiting for?