Martin on Cnicht

Martin on Cnicht

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Wednesday 3 July 2013 - Pyrenees GR10 - Day 19 - Stage 15 - Gourette to Arrens-Marsous

Distance: 14 km (Cum: 280 km)     

Ascent: 650 metres (Cum: 14,800 metres)
                     
Time taken: 5.25 hrs including 1.25 hrs stops                                     

Weather: light rain, clearing to be replaced by fog then low cloud, then sunny periods

Whilst it was good to be back on our planned GR10 route, we will reflect with pleasure and fond memories of our excellent three day alternative, during which we walked paths that matched GR10's in quality and we met some lovely people.  And, for the moment, we have the satisfaction of having maintained the continuous green 'travelled on foot' line from Hendaye. 

This morning we woke to heavy cloud that engulfed the ski resort of Gourette. By the time we departed for the épicerie at 9am it was raining steadily. 

It's a steep pull up to 1799 metre Col de Tortes, none the easier for the humid cloud through which we had to force our bodies.  We soon caught Roland and Marie; I was pleased not to be carrying heavy camping gear at this point. Sue felt unwell and fell far behind. Luckily this is a very easy stage, so we could afford to go slowly.

A miraculous recovery soon saw Sue speeding past and arriving at today's high point, the 1799 metre Col de Tortes, well ahead of schedule. She is pictured there.

It was partly engulfed in cloud, but at least not raining. 

We trotted down to the D918 road to find sunshine and an elevenses spot, passing Françoise on the way down. 

The following road walk wasn't unpleasant as there was very little traffic, but it's fair to say that today's route is not one of GR10's classics. 

The roadside flora was however outstanding, with Sue having to be coaxed from photo to photo - Trumpet and Spring Gentians, Butterwort, Yellow Wood Violet, Bird's-eye Primrose, Oxlips and many, many more.

Four backpacking Belgians strode past, having started from Arrens-Marsous this morning, heading west. They were disappointed to hear that their GR10 route from Gourette is probably too difficult for them.  A few minutes later one of them jogged past in our direction. He had lost his watch. He soon returned, empty handed. We took his details and kept a look out, but sadly didn't spot it.

After leaving the road and its attendant tree avalanches, we strolled up to Col de Saucède, past Water Avens and chatty chaffinches. A shepherd's  Renault van was parked at the col.

Lunch comprised a different variety of tuna salad - Sue had chosen a curried variety - "like eating a cold tuna curry" she not unexpectedly reported. 

Lots of interest was shown by a host of Griffon Vultures that, one by one, flew slowly overhead as we chomped our tuna. Incidentally,  the 'white-tailed eagles' I reported the other day are actually Egyptian Vultures, according to a pamphlet we picked up today. 

The path down to Arrens-Marsous was excellent. Another adder was spotted. This time we got a photo before it scurried away. 

We arrived at Gite Camelat at 2.30,  fully expecting to have to wait for it to open, but were welcomed in by Lydie and Philippe. We are in good hands tonight. Philippe confirmed that tomorrow's route to Cauterets is long but quite ok without crampons. So we'll give it our best shot. As it's a long day, don't expect the usual verbosity! 

Camelat lived up to its reputation tonight, serving a fine meal including mussels and salmon to eighteen customers, including our little group of five - me, Sue, John, Paul and Françoise - Roland and Marie having chosen to camp.

News of others:

Pierre and Yolaine were seen yesterday by Paul and John, and are said to be on good form. (Yolaine's mum and dad are now at home and commenting.)

Stuart (aka Inov8 Man) got fed up and went home from Etsaut - he had set off to walk the HRP (high route), retired to GR10, and now found that route impassable without winter equipment. I'm sure he'll return. 

Françoise is walking out to Lourdes tomorrow, so we won't see her again. Others are continuing, but may fall behind us tomorrow and overtake us during our two day holiday in Cauterets. 

Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary

5 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

I also ate well at Camelat. One of the best meals on the trip.

It's time the weather improved for you.

Alan Sloman said...

Good to hear you are going well.
:-)

bowlandclimber said...

Re your last post and picture of the Ferrari tractor - the one to really spot is a Lamborghini tractor - very smart. I've seen them on the continent, keep a lookout.
Enjoy your rest in Cauterets.

Alan R said...

Verbosity. Yes i like that word. I must try and use it in my posts sometimes.
Good to catch up with the reading again. Glad you are going well.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks for all those comments. I'll try not to be so verbose tonight.