STEP BY STEP TOUR
From the Pleta del Prat refuge (0:00 - 1,720m) we begin to walk following the indications of the Mascarida itinerary proposed by the Alto Pirineo Natural Park. We advance along a track that soon leads to a path. We are going up the Mascarida torrent along its hydrographic left bank. Let's take a look at the ski lifts of the ski station and some precious specimens of black pine and spruce. We leave behind a detour to the left (0:15 - 1,764m) that we do not take and that would take us to the path that goes up to the Corbiu viewpoint.
The climb is continuous and demanding, we decidedly gain height without respite. We leave the subalpine zone and enter the alpine zone, now without forest. After the 1950m elevation we move away from the ski lift of the station. We leave behind a detour (1:05h - 2,036m) that would take us back to the Pleta del Prat refuge along the path to the Meli plain and the ski slopes, and we tackle a stretch up the Mascarida stream in a NW direction. Or that takes us to the Pleta de Gavàs (1:25h - 2,184m), a plateau with several half-ruined huts, witnesses of the Tavascan Valley's cattle-raising past. We continue up, leaving behind the snow pole that is in the middle of the stream. Next, we tackle the steepest and toughest section of the route.
We continue following the Mascarida stream until its source, Lake Mascarida (1:50 - 2,346m). Next to this lake, to the west and half hidden, is Devil's Lake, also of glacial origin, like Mascarida Lake, and quite difficult to identify in winter because a lot of snow accumulates and it is quite small. It is probable that in the past the Devil's Lake and the Mascarida Lake formed a single lake, but the phenomenon of filling (accumulation of sediments that ends up blocking the water of the lake) ended up separating them.
THE LEGEND OF THE DEVIL'S LAKE
It is said that the Devil's Lake is the most diabolical of the lakes in the Pyrenees because, according to legend, it is a door to hell through which the devil himself came out... It is seen that one day, a herd that grazed in the area was very upset and the shepherd who took care of him complained: "So the devil would come out and tie them all up!". Next, a well-endowed black ram came out of the lake, tied up all the sheep one by one, and disappeared back into the waters of the lake. After 5 months all the ewes gave birth to black lambs. The following summer, one day they were grazing in the area, the black ram reappeared making some very loud bleats and all the lambs ran after their father towards the waters of the lake and disappeared forever.
Source: Pep Coll and Alto Pirineo Natural Park.
We continue the ascent. We climb a smoother blade that takes us to the Mascarida de Dalt lakes (2:20 - 2,437m), framed in a small glacial cirque crowned by the Montforcado summit. From the lakes we trace a loop that places us on the S-SE buttress of the Coma del Forn peak and we make the last section of the ascent along the wide ridge that takes us to the Coma del Forn peak (3:05 - 2,685m). The views are exceptional! Towards the east we can see the Pica d'Estats (3,143m) with its neighbors, the Punta Gabarró (3,115m) and the Verdaguer peak (3,129m). To the north, we see the crest of the Coma del Forn peak that connects with the Tres Estanys pass, the Tres Estanys peak (2,755m) and Ventolau (2,851m). Towards noon we make out the Sierra de Cadius and the long ridge that begins at El Campirme (2,633m) and ends at Llavorsí.
After enjoying the views for a while and regaining strength, we descend along the same path that we climbed, passing by the Mascarida de Dalt lakes, the Devil's lake, the Mascarida lake and the Mascarida stream. We thus return to the Pleta del Prat refuge (5:35 - 1,720m) where we end this fantastic day in the high mountains.