The greatest thing we’ve packed? Tiger balm. Our calves and knees are screaming at the change in levels of activity and the introduction of altitude.
Height gain: 766m
Height loss: 736m
Most exciting bit? Descent into a RAVINE!
Today started with a misty uphill climb past multiple white crosses. As we climbed higher it got eerier, with horses barring the way and the clouds enclosing us along with three fairly grotestque depictions of Jesus’ first finale. The feet in particular seemed poignant..
Fortunately the tales of religious suffering tailed off beyond that: ascent through a beautiful wood (with an AWESOME running trail) was followed by a gentle traverse across the edge of a valley. The next climb took us to a flat, grassy expanse.. edged by a ravine which – of course – we climbed down. Proper rock scrambling: it was not for the feint hearted. When we weren’t clinging to a metal cable while finding footing above a sheer drop we were mostly scuttering, crab like, to avoid potential fall! A brilliant challenge.
Best graffiti of the day..
Feet still looking better than these.
Not bad for 3 days’ walking..
All in: another fantastic day. Tomorrow is supposedly ‘the first really hard day’ – looking forward to it, albeit somewhat trepidatiously;)
Easier than expected after the Coqs choir and yesterday’s muscle punishment. Still, we each have to remind ourselves that it’s only walking and those little niggly pains are just that; niggly. A lovely climb this morning but very hot. We were grateful for more oak forests and streams to cool our feet in. Damselfly danced along these trout waters. Body is aching but it is good.
Elevation gain: 1004m
Elevation loss: 924m
Feels like: infinitely more.
Walking style: brisk at first, then drunken old person footfalls from km 18 on.
Weather: Lovely. Though i have sunburnt elbows.
Blister count? Me 1 Renee 0
Pictures? The bandwidth here prevents me from uploading many pics…tonight I’ll try to add more x
Atlantic coast farewell
A quite stunning lizard. 2 spotted today.
Ancient oak forest on descent
Highest point today
Near day’s end and the compass reassures us that we are heading towards the hotel and beer.
And there it is. Sleep was interrupted by the 30 cockerels next door, in violation of the 7 limit. What’s the difference at 5am?
So here we are. France. Paris. Arrived at 8am with plenty of time to get to Montparnasse train station for our 10.24 a.m departure for Hendaye. Except today, of course is the first day of summer holidays. The queues for passport control were like a football crowd. We made it through to the luggage carousel where Renée found her bag in the first circuit. Why bags that checked in together do not arrive together has always confounded me. We wait. We consider options. 10 lookalike rucsacs carousel by. Maybe it is over there with that pile of bags that someone has pulled off the carousel, summises Ren. Sure enough. Of course. We then leg it downstairs to buy an RER ticket. More queues. I buy a SIM. Renee gets tickets. I can’t seem to get mine in the machine. We are on the train. It is 9.30 now. The stations tick by. Luxembourg is one of them. I like how it’s pronounced. Exotic. Some of the fashion on the train means we are in Paris. Jump suits and wedges. 10.19 we get to the interchange and run. Weave and run. Next train comes quickly. Three stops. Montparnasse is a big station. Still we run. No joy. The train went at 10.24. It is 10.30. Bugger. We somehow get a refund of sorts and the only tickets on the 12.24 train are first class. €140 to pay. 6 hours to Hendaye. A spot of lunch and a cold beer. Loads of football fans around in German tops. The train is really cosy. Renee is asleep. It’s like Norfolk fields out there. Cloud streets too. Cool air. Time to rest. Day zero half way done.
The GR10 traverses the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, roughly along the French-Spanish border. It’s approximately 850km, and involves 49,714m of ascent and 49,714m of descent. It’s “equivalent to climbing Mount Everest over 5 times, though not as strenuous or dangerous as the altitude is much lower” (pyreneeshike.com). The highest point is Col de Madamette, at 2,509m.
At various points the trail meets with the Spanish border, and there’s an opportunity to cross over to the parallel route on the Spanish side, the GR11, which is higher, but involves less ascent and descent. There’s a good comparison of the routes on pyraneanway.. Maybe next year, GR11!
Google Map: GR10 route
[N.B. If you’re doing the hike yourself, I’ve linked to the wikiloc site, where you can download the .GPX files on the ‘stage #’ and linked to gr-infos, where there are static maps, on the ‘name of the stage’ above each map. If you’re super keen and following from an armchair, you can also view the GPX files in Google Earth – though I warn you, it is dizzying]
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Stage 5: GR10 From Oule Lake/Lac de l’Oule (Hautes-Pyrénées) to Araing Lake/l’Etang d’Araing (Ariège)
Doesn’t look at all daunting, does it? Let the adventure begin!
On July 3 Renée and Will will depart Hendaye, on the Atlantic coast of France, with the intent of reaching Banyuls, on the Mediterranean coast, before August 15. The route is the GR10, through the Pyréenées – do come back to see how we are doing!
[picture: Picos, our last hike]