Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 24 July 2015

Friday 24 July 2015 - Pyrenees GR11 - Day 40 - Nuria (Hotel Vall de Nuria) to Setcases (Hostal Restaurant Ter)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Distance: 19 km (Cum: 675 km)

Ascent: 1100 metres (Cum: 38350 metres)

Time taken: 7.6 hrs including 1.4 hrs stops (Cum: 279.0 hrs including 56.0 hrs stops)

Weather: blue skies to start, slowly clouding over, stormy after 3 pm

My last day with Tobi. Alternatives had been mooted, but I felt he really ought to experience the delights of the Noufonts ridge, so after stuffing ourselves again over breakfast we reluctantly paid our farewells to Nuria* and headed up to the ridge.

The sun beamed down benevolently and a cool breeze helped us on our way, so much so that despite being ten minutes behind Tobi I was still ahead of 'Brian Time'.

We'd whizzed past a group of French day walkers, past fading Leopardsbane in Eryngo meadows and past horses that unusually weren't equipped with bells.

For a change we were rising through open country with no trees. Higher up, Sempervivium (houseleeks) and Fringed Pinks were flourishing, together with a few Spring and Field Gentians.

Higher still, lots of pretty pink thistles and a silence broken only by the occasional shriek of a marmot or concerned call of a wheatear.

So it took just two hours to rise 800 metres to Coll de Noucreus, where we found four younger backpackers relaxing having reached the ridge at the point where there are nine crosses, commemorating nine monks who supposedly died here after being caught in a storm.

Previously I've reached this ridge from the beautiful Eyne valley, which provides a much longer ridge walk than the one we enjoyed today. But what we got was fine, with brilliant views on both the French and Spanish sides. It's the third time I've been here (HRP and GR10) so I knew we'd soon come across the ice axe memorial that precedes the final climb to Pic Superior de la Vaca (2824 metres) before the long descent to Refugi d'Ulldeter.

There's a very solid emergency shelter on the way down, outside which we enjoyed a break with the four young backpackers whilst a family of marmots played nearby, a small rat got fed up of waiting to get into his hole so brazenly ventured there in front of us, and an eagle soared majestically above.

As we approached Refugi de Ulldeter black clouds were gathering, thunder was rumbling, and there were signs of rain all around. Half an hour in the friendly refuge was a welcome break, though perhaps we regretted that later when we spent the last half hour of our day in torrential rain!

The route down to Setcases is very simple, culminating with 4 km on tarmac that today was doubling as a river bed as we walked through descending rivulets that were washing like waves down the road. The closest lightning was just under two seconds from the thunder. Quite close. At the height of the storm we met a group of about a dozen children clad in black ponchos, trailing up the road like a posse of soggy nuns. A miserable and sorry sight.

By the time we arrived in Setcases at 4.30 pm the rain had diminished to the extent that we walked all the way around the village in search of Hostal Restaurant Ter that had been recommended by German Martin. We booked in, but the place is dead and we wonder what thrills the half board meal has in store for us. Apart from this sorry outpost the village seems quite vibrant, though the supermarket is a bit weird, selling honey and other specialty products, and instead of racks of groceries the interior sports about 16 small tables, each with a carafe of wine with one of those small tasting spouts. Perhaps they are hosting a wine tasting evening.

Today's pictures:
Núria
Looking back to Núria
Some of the nine crosses
A selfie
The ice axe memorial
The view north from the Noufonts ridge
Refugi d'Ulldeter

* Núria has a rich history that time prevents me from relating just now, but I'll try to add some interesting information when I get home. (Unless Humphrey beats me to it with a long comment in the meantime.)

Next Day - Day 41

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1 comment:

Alan Sloman said...

That looks like a tremendous day. Wonderful full fat piccies too.
(On the 'other walk' our Gayle is being miserly with her pixels!)
:-)