Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Monday 5 August 2013 - Pyrenees GR10 - Day 53 - Stage 41 (part)/42 to 44 variant (1) - La Cabanasse to Plateau de la Beguda in Vallée d'Eyne

Distance: 18 km (Cum: 784 km)     

Ascent: 1200 metres (Cum: 45,140 metres)
                     
Time taken: 8.75 hrs including 2.75 hrs stops                                     

Weather: sunny and hot

Another tremendous day in the mountains, taken at a very leisurely pace with lots of breaks in the shade, as I knew that an early camp would be too hot to cope with, and amongst the day walkers in an area where only sunset to sunrise bivouacing is allowed. My timing was perfect. I arrived at 5pm, just as the last day walkers were taking pictures of the izards and the sun's strength was just about bearable for camping in the open. 

The site (pictured below) really is a cracker, with a spring within feet and no discernable nuisance bugs. Grasshoppers aren't a nuisance, are they?  It's a fitting spot to end this series of fine wild camps, from Luchon to here, and avoid the anticlimax of lesser positions as I progress towards the coast. I know Humphrey has made some suggestions, and I thank him for that, but my recollection is that camping spots and water become more problematic from here. Also, that would have involved lugging extra provisions all the way from La Cabanasse, which would have been a pain. Literally, I pulled a back muscle yesterday and it's a bit stiff today. I'm bending down like an old man. (Oops, I probably do that all the time.)

Anyway, half board in a few gîtes and refuges should be a more sociable way of completing the walk than isolating myself in the tent. 

So I've just eaten my last tin of Thon à la Catalane for a while. I'm actually a bit sad about that.

Knowing it was a relatively easy day, I pottered off quite late at 8.30am, then stocked up at the local épicerie - exactly €20, which amused the cashier, it was the chocolatine croissant that did it. 

I then followed GR10 on lovely paths to Planès, the end of stage 41 in the Cicerone guide. I sat for a while in a good spot overlooking the village (the croissant was delicious), before strolling back a few metres to the GR36 turn. During which time a very sweaty and very puzzled 'Orange t-shirt' man appeared from the other direction. He was heavily disguised today. Wearing a blue t-shirt. We communicated briefly in 'Mapspeak' - our common language for the day, shook hands, and set off in our respective directions. 

The section of the GR36 path from Planès to Eyne is called 'Balcons de la Tête', and undulates in a south westerly direction, starting up grasshopper meadows with Yellow Rattle and Scabiouses, before entering woodland for quite a while. 

The woods seemed full of mushroom pickers and families with small children. 

There were fine views across the plateau to the Carlit peaks, bathed in sunshine on another cloudless day. (See top picture.)

After the enjoyable traverse, where once more there was lots of Eryngo, the GR route sloped into Eyne by a back entrance, and then tried to slope out without really entering village. I had plenty of time so went for a wander around. A pretty place, with a small but perfectly shut church and an Auberge with lots of awards. 

But today I had a heavy load, so instead of indulging in the fleshpot of Eyne, I headed on past the GR36 turn and up the Vallée d'Eyne. A large rock in the shady woods provided an excellent spot for a long lunch with a rare brew. I'm trying to use up the gas, and gave away Graham's surplus cylinder this morning. 

Then I spent the whole afternoon pottering along, stopping frequently, meeting loads of day walkers coming back down, and admiring the flowers. It's known as the Valley of the Flowers, but we've been in many valleys with more flowers on this trip. Admittedly they did improve once the cow zone had been cleared, and the Houseleeks were particularly abundant. I'm now in the Izard and Marmot zone - perhaps they also eat all the flowers.

There were occasional pauses as well to assist and encourage the Pyrenean booking service, which has now completed that task. Thanks go to Sue for that most valuable service. ..

Humphrey suggested a route south, shortly before GR10 reaches Refuge de l'Orry, reaching the ridge that I'll be walking along tomorrow at Coll de Noufonts. Well worth considering - the path should be quieter, and camping opportunities look good. 

However, it's brilliant here, with the Izards and Marmots more or less ignoring me now I'm settled in. 

Gear failures - latest:
Sunglasses - new for the trip - falling to bits
Shoe laces - new for the trip - broken
Pacer pole - tip failure
X-socks - new for the TGO Challenge - gone to holes
Travel Tap water filter - new for the TGO Challenge - thread faulty - luckily not needed as a filter
Scsrpa Infinity boots - will only just make it to Banyuls (I hope!)

Good gear:
Terra Nova Solar Competition 2 tent
Saucony Hattori shoes
Lowe-Alpine Nanon 50/60 Hyperlite rucksack
RAB ankle gaiters
MSR Superfly stove (very old but very good)
Samsung galaxy S3 - I'm slowly getting used to it - in a different league to its BlackBerry predecessor
Suunto Altimax watch/altimeter (very old but keeps going)

That's all for now, future postings may be less verbose.

Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary

7 comments:

Alan R said...

Very Autumnal here today so enjoy the weather whilst you can. Enjoyed this adventure.
I have read that grasshoppers taste good fried. I think i would have tried them if they were in vast numbers.
Ditch the Travel Tap, my own packed up very early in its life and so went for the Delios. However the Sawyer Squeeze would be my choice at this time due to Delios supply issues. Glad you like the S3, i am trying to get Sheila to swop hers so that i can have it. I am surprised about the X socks though. Although i find them overly tight the quality has always been good.

wuxing said...

Can we have a photo of an Izard please?

Humphrey said...

Here's a giggle. Pla de la Beguda translates from Catalan as "The Drinking Field" - Beer O'Clock! You've chosen a very wonderful campsite - a short sharp climb tomorrow up to the col with a sheep-stell, turn left and then a gorgeous switchback to finish with good company at Refugio Ull de Ter (translates as The Head of the River Ter). They usually play good music there . . .

Humphrey said...

You probably know this already, but a couple of notes for tomorrow's stage. A delightful path from the refuge leads to a parking area - turn left and follow the road up to the ski area. Work left around this to pick up a faint trod on the left-hand bank of the stream to gain the col and subsequent plateau. I was this way in Sep '09 in a blizzard - close compass work! - but I guess you'll have better weather. Once you've reached the road junction at the border it's plain sailing - a slight rise, then the opportunity to take a steep short-cut to gain the road that leads to the refuge. I am beyond jealous!

Phreerunner said...

Thanks HMP3, that's great, as is the taste of beer and the company, justifying the decision not to camp, at the excellent refuge. I've done today's ridge walk before, and enjoyed it just as much today.

Gayle said...

Gosh, are you nearly at the end already? That's flown by!

As an aside, we had an 'orange t-shirt man' (who occasionally fooled us by donning a black one) on this year's Challenge. In the end we decided that he needed a better name, so we dubbed him 'Jim'. We did find out his actual name by the end, and managed not to accidentally call him Jim to his face before then...


Phreerunner said...

Yes Gayle it has flown by. Very enjoyably.
But wasn't his real name Jim?
The route is much easier in good weather Humphrey. Descend to the car park ▶ walk up the road ▶ go to the right of the last buildings in order to gain the path on the left side (right bank) of the stream, which is the last water for some time.