Distance: 28 km (Cum: 308 km)
Ascent: 1650 metres (Cum: 16,450 metres)
Time taken: 10.0 hrs including 1.75 hrs stops
Weather: sunny and warm - a glorious 'blue sky' day
After goodbyes to Françoise, and to our excellent hosts, Lydie and Philippe, we set off at 7am into the morning sun. We didn't reach Cauterets until 17.30, but it didn't seem like a long day. It really was a wonderful mountain day.
The first 300 metres of ascent was fairly gentle and through cool woodland. A pleasure as we rose slowly above the village of Arrens-Marsous.
Then it was down to the lovely Estaing valley. Our boots soon became sodden with dew as we strolled up a narrow lane littered with bright green moss covered rocks and lined with Dusky Cranesbill, Herb Robert, Rampion and more.
The riverside path was enjoyable, but showed signs of having been recently flooded. After a short section of road, the path turned up to pass through a small forest of young trees, many of which had been flattened by the recent storms, which had also provided a fertile breeding ground for nettles..
We made our way through this jungle, arriving at the Hotel Restaurant du Lac d'Estaing covered in debris and nettle stings.
The coffees went down well and a warning about the jungle section was sent to Paul and John. We hope they received it.
Then began the long ascent to Col d'Ilhéou - at 2242 metres the highest point on our trip so far.
It was totally without difficulty but with fine views. We enjoyed lunch on the col in the vicinity of another couple. Sue is pictured here.
The descent to Refuge d'Ilhéou required a little care, especially when crossing snowfields that lay above streams. It was easy to stray to the left of the path, but also easy to regain it.
The Refuge was manned by mountain guide Patricia, whose 'other half' was carrying a sack of food up from Cauterets for the sole purpose of feeding Tour Aventure's hungry clients.
The GR10 path (not the track that others were using) down to Cauterets was storm damaged but not impassable. With all the snow melt the river was still running very high. Spring Squill covered the hillside, months later than it would normally have faded away.
More about Cauterets tomorrow. But we pleasured ourselves with pizzas and a banana split at Giovanni's before retiring after this excellent third week of our journey through the Pyrenees.
Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary