Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Tuesday 28 July 2015 - Pyrenees GR11 - Day 44 - Wild camp 2 km before Santa Eugènia (beyond La Vajol) to wild camp outside Els Vilars

Distance: 33 km (Cum: 792 km)

Ascent: 1300 metres (Cum: 43500 metres)

Time taken: 11.0 hrs including 1.8 hrs stops (Cum: 318.7 hrs including 62.2 hrs stops)

Weather: blue skies clouded over mid morning and mid afternoon, otherwise sunny and Hot

The day started well. I was on the road, a dirt track, to Santa Eugènia by 7.20. Much to my amazement EE managed to service my emails, and I enjoyed a chat with Sue. High cloud kept the heat down. I was going strongly, gliding over the ground like a swan whilst two paddles, Sue and Humphrey, pedalled furiously below the surface. Between them they have found me some excellent accommodation for tomorrow, but it's quite a long way away. They have also provided considerable support and advice throughout the trip and I thank them for that.

A wild boar ran in front of me as I peered across to the fort that marks the border with France and the easy gite served conclusion to the GR10 walk - just a day and a half to Banyuls in a convoy of friendships for those wise souls.

For me, a much longer and more deserted path to a remote peninsula.

But first, a supermarket and then a bench to eat and sort stuff in the busy border town of La Jonquera. I thought I'd bought too much, and the weight of The Brick when I set off up the GR11 hill tended to agree. But it was there to be eaten and a lot of it has been. Even the large tin of tuna I've been carrying since Encamp has gone tonight!

Climbing out of La Jonquera past good views from Ermita de Santa Llúcia then through a large area ravaged by fire in 2012, it was amazing how quickly regeneration is taking place. The good path led to the summit plateau of Puig dels Falguers  (778 metres - they are getting lower).

All was going well.

The GR11 route then took a stony track for quite a few kilometres to Requesens, where the bar-restaurant mentioned in the guide book appears to have mutated into a cow shed. Shame, I had my sights on a coke. But the water point was working.

There was also a nearby fortress which may be worth a visit sometime. But not today!

Some rough paths and more stony tracks wound around the hillside offering occasional and very similar views until the Coll de la Llosarda (690 metres) was reached. A pleasant contouring path led to another of the stony tracks that dominated the afternoon.

Two more hours to  get to Els Vilars. 

After La Jonquera the sun had come out blazing. The heat rose to 35C. I had plenty of water and thought I was doing fine, stopping frequently to lighten my load by the contents of another tin.

I was dripping. The flies noticed and spent the whole afternoon attempting, and often succeeding, to enter my eyes or nostrils or just sit annoyingly on the end of my nose. My feet began to notice the heat, and also take an intense dislike to the stony tracks.

I kept having to stop to remove stones from my shoes. The loose gravel was annoyingly slippery. I got quite cross. The sensation should have alerted me to another problem.

My phone bleeped to say I'd walked a 'record' number of steps (61,246). It was time to stop.

Luckily the water point at the hamlet (more like houselet) of Els Vilars was working so I just took a couple of litres as my two litre Ortlieb water carrier has sprung a leak. Five minutes (if that) up the road a small copse of pine trees offered me the space for a comfy pitch on pine needles that I hope won't damage the groundsheet.

Coagulated mushroom and fly soup was surprisingly tasty with a dash of extra salt and a tin of tuna.

I can't get to tomorrow's booking without taking a shortcut that I think Brian favours. So I'll be missing out on 7 km of stony tracks through the trees. What a shame!

I won't be missing out on the pain of pressure sores though. They are back with a vengeance. Luckily I still have some left over bandages from last time.

Today's pictures:
Last night's wild camp
Santa Eugènia
Trees recovering from fire
Rocky outcrops above La Jonquera
The view to Canigou from the Puig dels Falguers plateau
Cork pile next to a typical 'stony track'
View from the descent to Els Vilars 

Next Day - Day 45

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Louise said...

Oh dear, more foot misery, I sympathise.

Humphrey Weightman said...

I've just eMailed you detailed alternate route directions that will save you around 17km Els Vilars > Port de La Selva. No bushwacking involved! Cuts out a Monster Loop!

Phreerunner said...

Thanks HMP3, you have confirmed that my planned shortcut makes sense, though I may now adjust it to your detailed route that's even shorter.

Jules said...

Just when you thought that foot issue was a thing of the past!

Anyway, looks like good progress is being made, and the end, now in sight, achievable. Good luck for the next few days!

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Jules, HMP3's shortcut is going well, if slowly.

Sir Hugh said...

Good to hear mention of Canigou. That was one of the highlights of my GR10.

Your description g getting unreasonably annoyed with oneself through tiredness and adversity is all familiar. It usually happens towards the end of the day, than next morning you set off re-motivated.

Good luck with the feet.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Conrad
Sometimes the combination of sore feet, 35C heat, humidity, stony tracks, attentive flies and over ambition can just get to you like it did to me yesterday.
Todays a bit shorter, flatter and smoother and I'm taking it very gently.

Alan Sloman said...

Big days, stony tracks, heat, high humidity, flies and painful feet.
Monster respect, Martin.
Well done HMP3 and Sue for moral and practical support!
(Read with morning coffee and cake)

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Alan, for all your comments. They are appreciated. I've had just two five minute conversations in English (my only language) since Tobi left, so the comments fill a gap.

The stony tracks are like walking on a bed of nails!

Yes, HMP3 has been a particular star from the planning stages. It was he who inspired me to tackle GR11.

Now in Llanca looking for an ice cream before switching to GR92 (an excellent route) for the rest of today's efforts.

It's a long time since the rest day in Puigcerdà and after feeling very speedy and chipper yesterday morning I now feel in need of another rest day. Must be an 'age' thing!