Km 4906 to km 5017, Benasque (Spain) to Gavarnie (France).
27/09/2022 – 22km
After a big breakfast at the hotel I managed to get a hitch back to the trail fairly quickly. It was raining throughout the morning, but my spirits were high, and as I was listening to a podcast about death, I felt lucky to be feeling the rain on my face.
I reached a hut in the early afternoon at the same time as a French HRP hiker going the other way. We had lunch together and exchanged notes on what the other could expect of the upcoming trail.
When I arrived at the small refuge I’d hoped to stay in tonight, I found it locked. So I’m camping nearby, below a dam. There’s been a cold wind all day, and now I’m bundled up in everything I have.
28/09/2022 – 32km
Today’s path was a bit easier than the last few days, thanks in part to some old mining tracks cut into a cliff and also to being back on the GR11.
I even got a few hours of blue sky to dry out my tent. What more does one need?
29/09/2022 – 26km
A hard day, mostly on high ridges. No sunshine, just mist, rain and snow. My feet have been cold and wet all day.
The real challenge came on the last few kilometres. I saw on the map that there was a climb ahead, but I wasn’t prepared for it. You can’t really tell from a map how it’s going to be until you get there. This was steep, no real path, up loose shale. With the added snow, there was a lot of sliding going on.
Now, in hindsight, it seems exciting, but at the time I remember my nerves fraying.
Today is also possibly the first day of my journey where I haven’t seen another person, not even in the distance. Unless I wrote this already, months ago, and have just forgotten.
30/09/2022 – 34km
Poking my head out of the cabin, I saw that it had snowed more in the night. Since the paths were mostly covered I was happy to have my phone GPS to point me in the right direction.
Whilst it was still snowing I came across a few big vultures picking over a dead cow. It was like something out of a nature documentary, if only David Attenborough could have been there to narrate. They flew off before I could get a good photo.
After a cold and snowy morning the sun burst through the clouds and I was reminded what it felt like to be warm again. The forecast is good for the next five days, which I think should be enough to get me through the last high passes.
I stocked up in the town of Gavarnie for my last section of big mountains. I don’t think my bag can hold much more food, which was the plan as I might not get another good resupply for some time.
Some milestones today: 5000km and 80% completed.