The lower parts of the Hecho Valley were very lush and green, and we were soon stopping (fortunately the road was very quiet and so we could pull over wherever) for endless Red Kites, Griffon Vultures and a flock of c150 high, silent circling Chough sp. A flock of roadside Chaffinches and Goldfinches in the village of Hecho also saw a male Black Redstart feeding in a yard.
Heading up the Hecho Valley
As we climbed up the valley, more and more snow started to appear, initially on the mountain tops, but with the increase in height, we started getting more roadside snow. The road was still drivable though.
Beyond the village of Hecho, more snow appeared
We soon came to the start of the 7km track up to the Gabardito Refuge. The track was virtually a road (well tarmacked) at the bottom, and it was clear of snow. However, as we rose up the valley sides, slowly the snow got deeper. There was just one set of vehicle tracks in the snow, but in our Skoda I stuck to the fresh snow and slowly climbed. We never skidded or slipped once, but with about 2km to go, it was about four inches deep. We then met a ranger coming down. He stopped. We stopped and we couldn't get going again. He got out of his car and gabbled something in Spanish which went along the lines of "What the 'ell are you doing driving a Skoda Fabia up the side of a hill in snow with no chains or winter tyres. You must be stupid English men trying to find a Wallcreeper I bet. Well I've got news for you. You ain't going any further as its about a foot deep up there. Fancy some paella?" I may have got a few words wrong but we understood the basics. We rolled backwards, turned the car round with a little push from Jose and back down the 5km track we went. Our first site of the day, three ticks to look for and we didn't even manage to get to it. What a downer!
Driving back towards Jaca at the end of the day with the sun still shining on the snow capped Pyrenees. Starting to miss Westport by this point!