Distance: 13 km (Cum: 450 km)
Ascent: 1370 metres (Cum: 25,570 metres)
Time taken: 5.0 hrs including 1.0 hrs stops
Weather: overcast at the start, with a short shower before hot sunny intervals, then stormy
Inevitably, today's start was a little on the slow side. A sociable breakfast, settling up with Mike and Annette at Villa Portillon, a few whimpers from other guests who didn't like the feel of my rucksack (nor did I), and goodbyes to Sue who came with me to a rendezvous with Graham at the St-Mamet road junction.
Photos at 9am to record the moment captured sight of our nice clean clothing and 15+ kilo bags before we embarked on a long, sweaty ascent. We didn't touch GR10 today, our aim being to traverse the Tuc de Bidur ridge before dropping down to camp at L'Étang du Dessus, which is on GR10.
We made good speed up the steep trail that runs through the woods to the south of St-Mamet, before joining a surfaced road up to Herrau. A right turn before Sarousgas took us south west before finally delivering us to the ridge that we'd been aiming for all morning.
It had taken over three hours, but given our heavy loads and an 1100 metre ascent, we were quite pleased with that.
Lunch was taken at about 1pm near Pic de Saublanque, on the border with Spain beyond Border Post number 382.
We then moved swiftly up to Tuc de Poujastou (2015 metres) and we then had our eyes firmly fixed on our next target, Tuc de Bidur. But to the west a black lump had enveloped the Néouvielle and was heading briskly in our direction. A storm. We continued along the easy but steep sided ridge with fine views, not expecting any escape route to appear.
A water point (trough for cows, with a pipe from a spring) suddenly appeared below the remains of a cornice on the Spanish side just beyond Border Post 386. The storm was imminent so we rushed down and pitched our tents. Well, we tried - it always seems to be a bit hit and miss on these 'day 1' occasions. I managed to get my Terra Nova Solar Competition 2 up before the rain. The only problem was that the flysheet was inside out. So water poured in through the unprotected vents. I couldn't find a cloth, so had an interesting time with a minor flood.
Meanwhile, Graham was a bit slower with his Vaude Power Lizard, and dived inside to avoid the rain, before installing the end poles. He finished up sitting out the storm in a puddle, literally.
The tents had been pitched at 2pm. A bit early to stop for the day? We decided to re-pitch them properly and enjoy a brew. By which time it was 3.30pm. The weather looked clear for an hour or so, but having found this nice spot (pictured) we decided to stay, and get an early start tomorrow.
A good decision. Whilst the sun is shining at times, at other times the ridge is enveloped in cloud, and at 5.30pm, when we would still have been walking, we endured a violent thunderstorm.
It's great up here. Wild camping is wonderful at times like this.
PS Thanks for your comment Conrad. I think you are right.
Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary