Distance: 17 km (Cum: 580 km)
Ascent: 1400 metres (Cum: 33,040 metres)
Time taken: 6.25 hrs including 1.25 hrs stops
Weather: sunny after early cloud, occasional mist at 1900 metres later
We strolled away from Seix at 8.45 am, starting a little later than usual because of my insistence in taking full advantage of the hotel's lavish breakfast.
It was cloudy and humid, but the good forecast has proved reliable. Whilst mist is coming and going at our high camp, there has been no rain today.
I wore my zip off legs for the first time for ages, by way of horse fly protection. The flies didn't really bother us too much whilst we kept going. But they were ready to pounce when we stopped.
We enjoyed the narrow path that led back to the GR10 at Coume Chaude, then a lane took us up to Estours, most of the time next to a steaming torrent that was cascading down beside the lane and producing a pleasant draught.
There were signs of industry here, with some cranes high above us, and construction work by an old watermill where the GR10D path joined us from Port de la Core.
The path then rose gently through woodland, passing a shrine remembering Eric Garcia (1971 - 1994) before emerging at a meadow below the private Cabane de l'Artigue.
It was time for lunch but the flies encouraged us to wander for a few minutes up the valley to find a better spot by the river. The upper picture was taken from that lunch spot, showing the next stage of our climb, through more trees, to Cabane d'Aula at 1550 metres.
There was lots of Pyrenean Eryngo here, which we hadn't seen for a while, as well as the usual orchids and other stuff.
There were some picnickers near Cabane de l'Artigue, and an elderly French couple going our way with largish rucksacks and a big camera. Apart from them we've been on our own since Seix.
I'd planned to stop near Cabane d'Aula (according to the itinerary), and we found good water there - by way of a pipe coming out of the mountain. But it was only 2 pm, and the flies looked as if they may be a nuisance, although there were plenty of good camping spots.
The Cicerone guide referred to a 'hollow' shortly before Port d'Aula, so we took a calculated risk, filled all our water bottles, and headed up the zigzag path for 45 minutes. Flatter ground before the 'hollow' was duly reached and presented the right sort of dilemma. Where to pitch our tents when we were spoilt for choice? My tent is pictured. Judge for yourself whether you like the view, which admittedly does occasionally disappear into the mist. It's the Mt Valier range that we can see domineering over us.
Graham's tent went up a bit more slowly today - his main pole broke. Luckily the usual mid afternoon rain failed to materialise and a makeshift repair was effected.
Arriving at 3 pm, and with no threat from the weather, this is our best wild camp, at around 1935 metres, of the trip. We are well out of the horse fly zone here, which is an added bonus.
Surrounded by alpine flowers, we'd better try to identify some.
Later I went up to the col in an abortive search for a phone signal, passing a very deep hollow on the way. We certainly found as good a place as anywhere to camp.
Conrad, you are right, this area is one of many gems of the Pyrenees. We just wish there was a relatively easy higher route that avoids the woods and their attendant horse flies. I notice that when we did the HRP, we were in Salardu at this point on the crossing, stocking up with food for a week!
The choughs are chirping and the Stonechats are chatting as the sun disappears behind Mt Valier and the day draws to a close.
More tea vicar?
Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary