Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Thursday 20 June 2013 - Pyrenees GR10 - Day 6 - Stage 4 - Bidarray to St-Étienne-de-Baïgorry

Distance: 16 km (Cum: 82 km)     

Ascent: 1300 metres (Cum: 4050 metres)
                     
Time taken: 7.25 hrs including 0.75 hrs stops                                     

Weather: fine for an hour, rain for five hours, fine after that, but hills still shrouded in cloud

Breakfast at Barberaenea restaurant set us up for a gentle plod up to Pic d'Iparla. The path took us over and past boulders that looked like huge lumps of concrete. Twenty five vultures circled menacingly above us.  It was just about not raining, with a bit of blue sky, and some distant Pyrenean peaks poking out in the distance to the east.

Today's image is the view back to Bidarray from this morning's ascent. 

The rain started as we rose to the splendid Iparla ridge through beds of clover littered with milkwort and crosswort. Ancient cromlechs and old sheep enclosures were passed as we steadily gained the crown of the broad ridge.

After rising above the wooded valleys our views were negligible. Those with gloves donned them. The 9C temperature was considerably diminished by wind chill. 

We soldiered on to the 1044 metre summit, conscious that we were as well equipped as anyone else on the path today. Especially the fell runners. Where did they come from! 

After a brief pause at the summit, and a photo taken by a French couple, we descended through thin mizzle to Col d'Harrieta, where a luxurious beech wood offered some lunchtime shelter. Others were brewing up in a corrugated iron howf, illuminated by head torches.

After lunch we climbed sharply back to two more summits above 1000 metres. John's ankle hurt. David heroically provided a bandage from his first aid kit. It looked more like a snotty handkerchief from his trouser pocket.

After the final col, from which we descended to our lodgings, Sue and I went ahead to deal with the gite booking, etc. This was new ground for us, as we had previously continued to Col d'Ispéguy to camp. It was a lovely descent through asphodel meadows, past clumps of White Stonecrop, under wheeling vultures.  We encountered Dave, who is spending a couple of weeks on GR10. 

Gite d'etape Mendy is different from the others we've stayed at. Tea bags are no use here, unless you have a stove. The kitchen is reserved for the chef's team. So we have gone half board. Others are camping. The gite is full.

Later: for €10, I suppose the meal was quite good, though most of us would probably have preferred more than just butter with our spaghetti. At least there were three filling courses, plus wine and coffee. 

We rounded off the day with a visit to the village, a pristine sort of place where nothing was open. 

I'm sure this will contrast significantly with Conrad's recollections, and Conrad may also be entertained by our notes on our 2004 HRP trip, the postcards from which have been transcribed onto
 
http://www.topwalks.com/pyreneespostcards.html

Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary

6 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

Hi Martin. I am off on the 7:01 am train from Arnside tomorrow to walk on the Cheshire Ring Canal Walk, starting from Marple and going south. It will not be as easy to follow your exploits unfortunately, and I will not have my Lulu book, "Conrad Walks the GR10" to refer to for my reminiscences so I will have to catch up with you later, but so far I have been with you every step of the way.

I stayed in a hotel in St E de Baigorry run by a strange adult son and his mother, all very Psycho like, but the gigot of lamb was excellent.

Sir Hugh said...

Wow ! I have just downloaded the PDF version of my book from Lulu onto the iPad Mini, pictures and all - what a triumph.

Alan Sloman said...

It all sounds a bit gloomy
:-(
Let's hope you get some better weather tomorrow!

Phreerunner said...

Not really gloomy Alan. Just wet, with some very jolly moments.

Enjoy the Cheshire Ring Conrad. It's a shame we aren't at home or you could have broken your journey at our house, near Timperley Bridge. It's a good choice for your next project.

Sir Hugh said...

Yesterday Mick and Gayle, and JJ came out and walked with me. Pity you could not be there.

Phreerunner said...

Yes Conrad, we'd have loved to be there. It's a shame you picked such an inconvenient time to walk past our house!