Consider pursuing this day hike from Cauterets along the Vallée de Lutour to Lac d’Estom. I was staying in Cauterets for a few days in late September. Despite a drizzle, I dressed in hiking shorts with a fleece top and Gore-Tex jacket for weather protection.
Squads of alpinist women armed with hiking poles marched upward around me. Walking slowly, I didn’t consider competing with these intense speed-hikers. It was a relief to leave the pack at the hotel and stash a camera, water bottle and food in the deep pockets of the rain jacket.
After a couple of hours, I reached the lake was choppy late on this cold and blustery afternoon. “Closed for the season” stated the sign taped in the window of the Refuge d’Estom.
I stared up at Vigenemale and hoped there would be another opportunity to come here when the shelter-lodge would be open for hikers to stay over for a next-day ascent of this well known peak. Then I descended, treading carefully on the rain slick rocks.
La Fruitiere restaurant – hotel near the river, about two-thirds of the way back down the path to Cauterets was open. Grateful for the warmth, I huddled by the fire and downed two hot chocolates.
Later on, research turned up this account by another traveler, T. Clifton Paris, who walked the same hike to Refuge d’Estom in 1842.
“The Lac d’Esom is, I think, one of the most solitary and savage scenes in the neighborhood of Cauterets: I paid it a visit yesterday, and found it a bright mirror of the darkest blue, and so transparent that every rock and gelid cavern at the bottom could be distinctly discerned. It is situated at the head of the forest-covered valley of Lutour, and its scenery is well worthy the neighbourhood of the Vignemale, which mountain can be reached from its shores, but only on foot, by the laborious pass of the Col d’Araille”.
Letters from the Pyrenees… during three months’ pedestrian wanderings amidst the wildest scenes of the French and Spanish mountains, in the summer of 1842. T. Clifton Paris, with sketches by the Author, London: John Murray 1843. page 138