Martin on Cnicht

Martin on Cnicht

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Saturday 27 July 2013 - Pyrenees GR10 - Day 43 - Stage 32 (part)/33 (part) - Passerelle d'Ars to Étangs de Bassiès

Distance: 19 km (Cum: 637 km)      

Ascent: 1250 metres (Cum: 36,670 metres)
                     
Time taken: 9.25 hrs including 2.0 hrs stops                                     

Weather: we seem to have a heatwave

It was a fairly hurried departure as the midges were also early risers.

There had been a lot of flapping overnight due to a gusty wind.  Our most sheltered site, the finest the weather has been, and it's windy. A hot wind from the south. It can't have been bad, as neither of us could be bothered to get out and tighten our guy lines.

The first two hours of the diay were spent strolling through the woods, down to Aulus-les-Bains, past three tiers of spectacular cascades (the middle one is pictured - it's much wider than portrayed in the image).

We met a few folk coming up the path, and some may have spent the night admiring the scene under a waning moon.  I was surprised not to find a large car park, but the path retained its integrity all the way down to Aulus. 

An old round building with mature trees inside was passed, and we saw many more examples of an 'eye' icon that is rotated by ninety degrees. What do they denote, we wonder? 

Down in the fleshpots of Aulus we were able to stock up with provisions and with caffeine, though when I went to pay for the coffees I realised we'd missed a trick - there was an appetising row of croissants behind the counter. But Graham had long gone, so I moved on and vowed not to miss any similar opportunities. 

Graham had moved on due to my rather rudely chatting to Sue about the disorganised state of my plans. Accommodation in Vicdessos was a problem, and it was needed tomorrow, when Graham leaves for home and my clean clothes and batteries expire.  Graham seems to manage fine on hot campsites in a heatwave with flies, and is actively opposed to anything more luxurious, but whilst I enjoy wild camping, and get my best nights' sleep in my tent, I can also cope with 'fluffy towels'!

So a plan for the next six days has been hatched, based on Stage 7 - fine option 2 on the itinerary you can link to below:
Sunday - B&B in Auzat
Monday - camp at Étang de Goueille or earlier
Tuesday - El Serrat (Niunit Hotel Ordino)
Wednesday - camp by Estany near Clot
Thursday - camp at Refuge de Rulhe - eat their meal if possible
Friday - Merens - chambres d'hotes du Nabre
Graham's newer map shows different paths to my old one, so if I get a chance I may purchase one in Vicdessos. 

Many thanks to Sue for organising the accommodation, and well done to Booking.com for resolving the problem when she mistakenly booked the El Serrat hotel, on a non-refundable basis, for a week after I would actually be there!  Booking.com's freephone service simply phoned the hotel and changed the booking, with no penalty, whilst Sue was holding.

I've heard from Pierre and Yolaine that they are doing something similar, perhaps with shorter days than I'm planning, so maybe I'll catch them up at some point. 

The only other GR10 ers that I've heard about are Roland and Marie, who were last 'seen' on the Canal du Midi. This seems to be a sensible antidote to Marie's growing intolerance of hills. Thanks to Chantal for that information. I suspect there are a few folk currently on GR10 who would like an antidote to hills, heat and biting insects. 

We haven't met anyone else going our way - not in a meaningful way, anyway. That's the effect of camping, I suspect. 

We did however meet one GR10 er in Aulus. Christophe was a jolly chap, on his way from Banyuls to Hendaye. There was much shaking of hands and well wishing, then we parted like ships in the night. I hope that some of my coming encounters aren't quite as brief as this one. 

I digress. The 1100 metre hill out of Aulus wasn't at all bad. Gently graded paths with few flies if you kept moving, transported us (with Graham miles ahead as usual) to the ancient village of Coumebière, of  which few remains are visible. The water from the fountain (spring) that served the village was delicious. 

The Cicerone guide doesn't mention this place of interest. Is Paul Lucia (the author) missing a trick, or is he facilitating a pleasant surprise? 

A delightful if rather slow path drew us over Port de Saleix and nearly to the 2006 metre summit of Mont Garias (I'm surprised that Graham didn't leap up it in a few strides), before undulating past our planned camping spot - Étang d'Alate (difficult but possible to find a place) and descending over rough ground to a signpost. It was 3.30pm, hot but not thundery, and the sign not in our direction said 'Refuge de Bassiès. 

"Beer o'clock" said I. Graham agreed. So we spent a happy half hour in the cool of the refuge, which admittedly wasn't far away, before descending hotly to our campsite beside the path that runs alongside the eponymous lakes. Luckily there's a large stone howff the other side of the path, in which we sought refuge from the heat and the flies, before it was possible to adjourn to the tents and fling up the midge nets. My tent soon became splattered with blood.  "Another nosebleed?" enquired Graham.  "No" I replied, "but probably my blood" as I swatted another mosquito. 

The site of our camp is somewhere in the middle of the lower picture - of the lakes, taken from the descent to the refuge. Probably not visible are the numerous day trippers, out for a satisfying day in the mountains. 

Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary

5 comments:

Alan R said...

So we need to look out for a fluffy backpacking towel then!

Phreerunner said...

Absolutely not, Alan. The Lifeventure hand towel is quite enough to carry. Fluffy towels are provided by the management at timely intervals, as you'll now see.

Dot said...

So the hot summer sun has found you- and the horse flies!! I am enjoying following your progress. Glad you'll have some comfy overnights as well as good wild camps.
It's been too hot here!

Anonymous said...

Hello Martin,
As you Wonder about their trip, here are some fresh news of Yolaine and Pierre : Friday night They tooked ​​the big decision to leave the GR10 for a few days because of the very painful attackers HORSEFLIES ! so they choosed to continue higher, by the crests...
After yesterday : Pique Rouge des Bassies (2676m) and refuge "chez Nini" in Bassies, they planed to reach today the refuge "l'Etang Fourcat".
Here in the Northen Alpes, Météo announce strongstorm for this evening and night... but expecting it, we could have a delightful sunny walk up and down until 2300 m high, and ONLY ONE HORSEFLY BITE (of course, for me !!!)
xxx to you and Sue
Chantal and Joel

Phreerunner said...

Hello Dot, and Chantal and Joel. Yes I have heard from P+Y about their change of plan. They have chosen a route similar to the one I had earmarked for good weather, which we have got. I have sent them details of my route and I hope to catch them up by Rulhe or Merens.
Enjoy your storms!