Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 13 - Saturday 7 August 2004 - Stage 11
Silent camp to Refuge d’Arlet
Beautiful contouring paths avoiding storms. Leisurely afternoon in sun – 7 hours, 14 km, 700m ascent
Up early at 6.30, to get the best of the weather, and we spent all day avoiding nearby raindrops. We arrived at Arlet at 2.30 and had a very leisurely afternoon in the sun. Our tent is by the lake, and we will be lulled to sleep by jumping fish. We have just enjoyed a five course meal at the refuge and will turn in early.
Diary Entry (by Martin)
Today we decided an early start would be beneficial, so the alarm went at 6.30. Still nearly dark! However tea was brewed, muesli eaten - no milk, just water! - and packs packed by 7.30.
This enabled us to get up to the first col of the day - on the summit ridge above us - by 8 am, just as the sun was rising above nearby rocky ridges. Birds twitter, sun shines, but goes again as we descend the spur to Lac Acherito. [We followed a path up from Ansabère, turned left on reaching the ridge, passed two high points and descended right down on a spur to the lake.]
Lots of English irises (blue) on the Spanish side. We stopped to replenish water at the lake (8.30). Purified it. There were whistling marmots here and Sue spotted the first orchids of the trip.
Today's were superb contouring paths, and we enjoyed them in the presence of redstarts and yellowhammers. Just as we were considering applying suntan cream .... it started to rain. We spent the next three hours on the edge of a massive storm that occasionally shed a few spots of rain on us. Waterproofs went on and off on countless occasions.
We had a very pleasant brew stop (10.15 to 10.45), before the climb up to Col de Pau, expecting to be rained on at any moment.
There were quite a few day walkers out - as last Saturday some were blasting up the hill as if there was no tomorrow, and we were simply in their way. They must still be in work mode (do the Spanish work?).
On we continued, through meadows where irises and yellow rattle were abundant. The larks whistled and the redstarts chattered as in the background there were huge rolls of thunder, and crashes of lightning in the dark sky above.
Col de Pau was reached at 11.30. A massive storm raged to the west, but the sun stayed on us. The border stone here is a rock - number 276.
Can you spot the number on the rock?
We forged on towards Arlet as the weather prospects looked dire. However, the storm miraculously missed us and by 1 pm we were hungry enough to break for lunch. It was a speedy affair - waterproofs still going on and off like nobody's business - sardines/mackerel and half a baguette.
The last section - 1.20 to 2.30 to Refuge Arlet (the Arlet hut) was completed in much better weather, which continued to improve as the afternoon progressed. We had a view of Lescun, but weather conditions prevented a descent photo.
On reaching the hut a man from Lescun obliged when we requested "Two hot chocolates - now!" This surprised us as he had just arrived at the hut, which was being cleaned by two youths. Anyway, we booked dinner - they took our names and wrote them in a book (it seems you need to book your meal here - early arrivals at huts are an advantage), and we headed off to Lac d'Arlet to pitch our tent right next to the lake.
A pleasant afternoon was then spent in the sun, washing, walking around the lake, diary writing, etc. Very lazy. Adjourned at 7 pm for a 5 course meal, €14 each, at Arlet Hut in the company of some jolly Spanish lads and lots of French. Hut quite full. Glad to be camping. Can hear fish jumping and donkeys neighing. Nice and cool - 20°C. 9.30 pm - bed.
Our tent is beside the lake on the left
Stats and route (Viewranger):
14.5 km, 970 metres ascent, 7 hours