Distance: 18 km (Cum: 266 km)
Ascent: 1150 metres (Cum: 14,150 metres)
Time taken: 6.0 hrs including 1.0 hrs stops
Weather: sunny, with clouds building from the west
Again, today was more of a GR10 alternative than a variant, but it got us back on to the main GR10 route by way of some fine paths.
Françoise joined us for breakfast and was interrupted by a 'bathroom emergency' call from her twenty five year old daughter. Funny, I don't seem to get those calls any more. "Give her a few more years" I suggested. F is attempting a route we considered for today, involving two major climbs. She's likely to be late at Gourette. She gave us her phone number. .. "save me some dinner" was her parting shot.
We started by strolling down to the small town of Laruns, along the quiet D934 at first, then by a narrow back lane. There's a footpath for most of the way (the St Jacques pilgrims way), but Nicolas at the Caverne hotel said it would be very wet. The road was quiet, apart from the moment five pilgrims, a bus, a car, a motor cyclist and a cyclist were all competing with us for the same piece of narrow road. Everyone was courteous and said hello, apart from the terrified cyclist.
Lunchtime pizza was sourced in Laruns, then we ambled out of the town and up some delightful sunken lanes to Assouste and Aas. The former sported a 12th Century church that was securely locked. Beyond Aas a honey factory tempted us, but we felt it unfair to taste without buying.
There was no sign of a café.
Are we going soft, looking for such a thing?
A lovely belvedere path then led onto the broad ridge that is 'Montagne Verte'. It started at 1100 metres and rose all the way to 1600 metres, where we joined the road to Col d'Aubisque and descended to Gourette.
En route we encountered several shepherds and their attendant sheep and cows, not to mention the hungry horse flies. Red kites and white tailed eagles soared nearby.
The pizza went down a treat - it was a nice change from our usual lunch of tuna salad. Sue is pictured above at our lunch spot overlooking the Vallée d'Ossau.
We were at Gourette at 3pm after a short day 'on the hill', enjoying beer and tea before making our way to the CAF refuge, which was locked and deserted. "Back between 5 and 6" said the sign.
They had under promised, and the guardian's was back by 4.20, bearing signs of a difficult to achieve blood test. So she is excused any inconvenience - if spending time writing this on a sunny veranda rather than watching the Tour de France in a bar can be classed as an inconvenience. I think not.
A check as to Paul and John's whereabouts (in the hope of some advice from the 'GR10 front runners') brought a surprising response 'keep us some food tonight'. Had they bumped into Françoise, we wondered?
No, Françoise arrived at 6pm, having succeeded in walking to Eaux-Bonnes by 4pm. So she hitched a lift to Gourette. It's a ski resort above 1300 metres. I've just been for a walk around. What's the opposite of 'vibrant'?
6.20: Roland and Marie arrive. They started from Eaux-Bonnes at lunch time after their tent had dried out. It's good to see them again.
Then the happy Yorkshiremen, Paul and John turned up. They have done some 'there and back' walks, covering most of the GR10 route hereabouts and have seen lots of snow.
Party time! A select band of seven old friends.
Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary