Today I swam to bm602, the last of the esfr-bordermarkers in a cave on the Mediterranean coast. Accessible only by boat or by swimming.
I trained this summer in open water swimming and after a failed trial a few days ago, I succeeded today in good weather and a calm sea. And thanks to the directions of Corinne Gourgeonnet who made the trip twice with her son Arthur.
With bm602 doing for the second time (first time by boat on 21-5-2011), I have completed my ‘quest’ to do all esfr-bordermarkers twice with at least one year interval. I guess I am the first person on the planet earth who has done this. You might ask: why? I always respond with: ‘why not’. But now it’s enough.
I will return to the Pyrenees nevertheless, there is always a reason to come back to these marvelous mountains and revisit bordermarkers, just for the fun of it.
Carlos and Conchita Roca (website) are proceeding steadily on their quest to do all esfr-bordermarkers. They started in the eastern Pyrenees years ago; the only marker missing there was bm602. But yesterday bm602 was finally conquered: see their own story.
Bm602 is a special one: in a cave along the Mediterranean coast, it is only accessible by boat or swimming. But recently Carlos managed to hire a boatsman from Llança to bring them to the cave. The entrance to the cave is too narrow for a regular boat so you have to swim or use a canoe for the last part.
And that was what they did on 13 august: Carlos and Conchita in a canoe and their son David and his ‘novia’ Noelia swimming, making it a family experience to cherish. In this picture, they are close to the inlet which gives access to the cave.
And here they are proudly posing before the plaque of bm602.
And then returning to the boat in the same way.
After the boat trip, reason enough to enjoy a paëlla meal.
Thus Carlos and Conchita have now covered all bordermarkers between Andorra and the Mediterranean. They have also done almost all bordermarkers on the other side of the Pyrenees (Basque country, no. 1-272).
See this new webpage to see who has done all bordermarkers or one or two of the three main subdivisions.
This marker is relatively young. It was placed in 1997 after a Spanish engineer had discovered that the borderline between bm420 and 421 was presented wrongly on the maps and didn’t follow the real watershed. See this page for the whole story.
At my first visit in 2011, bm420bis was still in perfect health after 14 years:
But only 2 years later, the upper half was broken off by brute force. See this blog-post
In 2018 Corinne Gourgeonnet visited bm420bis and found both parts neatly against each other:
Now we are four years later. Corinne Gourgeonnet completed her full range of esfr-bordermarkers last year but can’t forget the esfr-bordermarkers. While walking the 5-days cross-border Pass’Aran-trail , she couldn’t help to revisit bm420bis.
And as you see: the upper half has now disappeared, probably tossed down the mountainside.
A famous quote from a famous dutch poet: anything of value is vulnerable.
I’m pleased to announce a new update of my website on the bordermarkers of the Pyrenees.
See for the update details: http://www.grpdesbf.nl/esfr-html-miscellania-updatelog.html
Gradually I am approaching the end of my project to visit en document all esfr-bordermarkers. And to design a coast-to-coast hiking trail that connects the bordermarkers: the GRPdesBF.
I have visited almost every bordermarker at least twice while checking access & progress routes. For September a few markers remain for a second visit, the winter is for finally writing my walking guide.
Will that be a farewell to the Pyrenees? Not at all. There will always be a reason – at least for old times’ sake – to travel to these cherished mountains and their bordermarkers.
The esfr-bordermarkers in the Basque country are not safe. Recently the markers 76 and 100 have disappeared and no. 101 has been broken off:
For Basque nationalists, the esfr-border should be non-existent, cutting in half a region that should be an independent whole. There is an iconic picture of the ‘execution’ of bm098 in which a group of masked nationalists is watching the executioner.
Is this the reason that its bordermarkers are relatively more damaged or have more often disappeared than in other regions? We don’t know. Let’s not forget the temptation of ‘le désir de détruire’ which is of all times.
Anyway: on my latest trip to the Basque country in April 2022, I discovered that bm100 has disappeared:
And its neighbor no. 101 has been broken off:
Carlos Roca (website) inspected the crime scene with a forensic eye. He identified the whitish edge of the fracture area as being the result of a portable grinding saw. Having thus grinded a wedge, it’s easy to break the bm off:
The disappearance of bm076 was reported in july 2021 by Michel Molia (see this post):
Together we visited the spot and searched in vain the valley underneath the ridge, the so-called ‘Gorospil-cemetery‘
Altogether, we have now 8 cases of the 288 Basque-bordermarkers (nos. 1-272, including submarkers) which have disappeared or have been severely damaged:
– 067: shattered in pieces
– 076: disappeared
– 098: shattered in pieces
– 100: disappeared
– 101: broken off
– 236: disappeared
– 255: disappeared in 2007
– 271bis: disappeared
Pleased to announce a new update of my main site, covering the 11 day trips I did in September 2021. See for the details this page.
A lot of information and pictures, it might be a bit too much. If I may suggest two picks:
– 6 September: my longest day trip ever in terms of time (13 hours)
– 11 September: Corinne Gourgeonnet visiting her very last bordermarker, no. 311
In the previous post, I introduced Sébastien Marc and his cousin Jérôme Loubière, the new kids on the block. Sébastien surprised me a bit later with an excel-sheet of how he keeps track of the bordermarkers he has covered so far. Hereunder a picture of his sheet:
(You can download this sheet (his current status) with this link and the same sheet but empty for his data with this link.)
Sébastien likes to make a difference between the markers numbered 1 to 602 and all the extra markers like submarkers, double markers, and the Llivia-markers. I remember that also Carlos and Conchita Roca prefer that distinction. So he included a sub-sheet for these extra markers:
But for me all bordermarkers “are created equal” and – inspired by Sébastien – I made my own excel-template with all markers on one sheet. It looks like this:
(As an example, I have entered in this sheet all the markers I did so far in my ‘second round’. At one point I decided to do all markers at least twice (with at least one year difference). Why? Why not? You can see that I have still to (re)do 69 bordermarkers, all planned for 2022.)
Do you want an empty template to use for yourself? Download it with this link.
You might report your own results as a comment to this post. I’d love to see how far you are in doing all esfr-bordermarkers.