Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 4

Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 4 - Thursday 29 July 2004 -  Stage 3 

Postcard Summary (on yesterday's card)
Damp campsite to Bidarray

Wet morning, steamy afternoon, rocky descent – 8 hours, 17 km, 750m ascent
Set off in dark heavy cloud on forest paths.  Light drizzle during the morning and we were in cloud on a long ridge.  Better at lunchtime when we had a view to enjoy as well as goats cheese and tomato butties.  Bidarray has a gîte which we have to ourselves, and an interesting church.  Its shop has stocked us up with food for the next few days.  Looking forward to a ridge walk tomorrow.
Diary Entry (by Sue)
The grey clouds that had accumulated yesterday evening produced overnight rain, leaving a grey morning. Tea, remains of muesli and a yoghurt in the tent, and away at 8:15. The campsite is on the route, so we exited via their back gate and were on our way.
The woods next to the frontier river were dark, as was the road that continued. The only noises this morning were the squeak of the rucksacks and the click of poles on tarmac.
Once across the river, the climbing for the day began and before we were out of the woods, it started to drizzle. New paclite Gore-Tex waterproofs were donned for the first time and we steamed beneath them as it was still warm (21°C). The track diminished to a narrow path, overgrown with bracken, and after a brief stop for another yoghurt, it was a thrutch to attain the ridge. The view disappeared, obscured by cloud, and did not reappear until Col de Gorospil, where there were large flocks of sheep, some with bells.

It was missly, but never rained hard. Route finding was interesting, due to the numbers of paths and tracks here. We had seen only one person until Col des Veaux, when, despite the cloud and light drizzle, more folk were seen out walking. Thankfully the weather started to improve - cloud lifted and the drizzle stopped. So, lunch of soft goats cheese and tomato on a French loaf was eaten with views in the dry. Brew was extra good.

On this broad ridge were a mare and foal - she was after food and her foal was skittish -  skipping around looking carefree. (See top picture.) 
Bizarrely, the next section was littered with confetti, even on the steep section.
Today has seen the first steep ascent and descent - the path dropped into a ravine where poles were very useful. It was disconcerting that a multitude of vultures (perhaps over 30) were circling the rocks above us. Some goats were also high above.
During this descent, Martin switched boots for trainers - the new boots are not entirely comfy yet. The basket of one of my poles got lost and was luckily found (thanks Martin), and we explored a small grotto just off the path.  

A feature of this area is the rocks - they appear to be conglomerates of loads of smooth pebbles.
More descent on road - the feet don't enjoy these stretches, then a nice past that contours to bring us into the village of Bidarray. It is pretty - above the river Nive, with a fronton (Basque game played against a high wall), bars and an attractive Basque church with a very colourful graveyard from all the fresh flowers.  

The backdrop of hills is lovely. Four GR10 walkers arrived at the same time as us - one hobbling badly. They disappeared whilst we sat in the bar.
We decided to use the gîte d'étape for accommodation rather than walk further to the campsite. We appear to be the first booking in to its dormitory style accommodation.
Spent time in a bar, and over beer and tea, wrote diary, logged flowers and the route, before showers at the gîte. Prior to our 7.30 table being ready at Hotel/Bar Barberaenea, we strolled around the church and wrote couple of postcards under still cloudy skies.
Had a lovely meal, under plane trees again, accompanied by more English voices from a table of, predominantly, children. Salade with morue fish and garlic sauce, then veal/lamb and garlic potatoes, and tarte tatin/cheese (S/M). Red wine (and obligatory plenty of water) to go with it.
A long-haired grey cat prowled the tables, requesting to be fed titbits. He was lucky with a few bits of veal fat!
Stats and route (Viewranger):
18 km, 1100 metres ascent, 8 hours


Sir Hugh said...

All very nostalgic for me. I like your inclusion, from time to time. of sounds.

Phreerunner said...

Nostalgic for us as well, Conrad.