Martin on Cnicht

Martin on Cnicht

Friday, 21 June 2013

Friday 21 June 2013 - Pyrenees GR10 - Day 7 - Stage 5 - St-Étienne-de-Baïgorry to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Distance: 21 km (Cum: 103 km)     

Ascent: 950 metres (Cum: 5000 metres)
                     
Time taken: 6.25 hrs including 1.25 hrs stops                                     

Weather: rain for five hours then slowly improving

We set off before 9 am after a filling breakfast at Gite Mendy.  This was our last day with John and David, as they aren't having a day off tomorrow. 

As has become the norm, it was raining hard, with the cloud right down to the valley. I'm pictured in a normally sunlit café.

We formed part of a bedraggled group of walkers, many with only ponchos or umbrellas for protection, stumbling up the muddy paths towards Col d'Aharza. There's a new and very good variant to GR10 that now has the main route markings, contouring to the east of Oylarandoy; we commend that path. 

Soon after the col, our companions took a lower path, but by a strange dint of fortune (we can't seem to get rid of them) John and David reappeared like a couple of bad potatoes at the next col - Col d'Urdanzia. After a few hundred metres they found another excuse to ditch us, by declining to ascend to the 1021 metre summit of Monhoa. We followed geordie Stuart (Inov-8 Man - if his Roclite shoes last as long as mine did he'll need three pairs to get to Banyuls) towards the summit but he threw us off his scent by taking an unexpected contour. 

There was no view from the summit.  Not until a few minutes after we had left. Never mind, views down to St Jean and beyond soon opened out in profusion. The 'below the gloom' picture above captures the essence.

Far below was the Belgian support car for two ageing walkers in shorts and ponchos, with a splash of red and yellow next to it. John and David had parked their bums near the support car but it hadn't taken the hint. 

Anyway, by a strange dint of fortune (they can't seem to get rid of us) we reappeared like a couple of bad eggs just in time to snaffle their excess lunch before the vultures got it.

After that it was downhill all the way to Lasse, where we poured into a hapless auberge and demanded tea and coffee with a menacing clarity. Dave and Stuart joined us, possibly to their regret.

St-Jean turns out to be a quaint bustling place, full of pilgrims (it's at the start of a famous pilgrim trail), trekkers, bikers and 'ordinary' tourists. Our accommodation, on which more tomorrow, is excellent. 

The evening was again spent with John and David, who have become firm friends during the course of the past week. We enjoyed another gourmet experience, this time at Txitxipapa restaurant, which once the corked wine had been dealt with provided a fine repast.

For the first time since Sunday, we emerged from the restaurant under a clear sky, the rain having finally moved to pastures new. An almost full moon grinned as we paid our final farewells to John and David, who have made such fine companions; we've never before walked with complete strangers for so long.

Good luck and bon voyage, gents...

Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary

4 comments:

Gayle said...

What's going on Martin? Where's the fine weather that always follows you around?

Alan Sloman said...

It's good the see that your spirits are dampened by the deluge.
Fingers crossed the good weather stays with you now.
:-)

Alan Sloman said...

Of course that should say "aren't" dampened,,,

Phreerunner said...

The change in luck had to come sooner or later Gayle, but the weather is now fine and as Alan has observed, it takes more than a bit of rain to dampen our spirits. It's good for camaraderie as well.