Thursday, 8 October 2015

Pyrenean Perigrination Part Two

 We make our way briskly south west from Refuge d'Arlet, following the H.R.P. (Haute Route Pyrenees) which wiggles along, tracing the highest parts of the range.

 It's generally rougher going than the valley visiting G.R. paths. but there's less loss of height taking this course. And broader views..

 In fact I'm still dawdling .... distracted by getting long shots of picturesque shepherds cabins besides innonimate lakelets.

Eryngiums, gone to seed, but still attractive, heartening...

Hill top driftwood. Fallen tree? Or drying firewood? Possibly both,

Not- so-little 'Bo Peep', has found someone else's sheep....

 And their cows.

The cattle look very well on a mixed diet, eating calcium rich nettles must make good milk.

Glossy beasts, handily proximate to the cheese factory.

Someone's getting a warm drink.

Mobile milking machine....I find it interesting ok?      Each to their own.

Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.

Will the journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night my friend.

Christina Rossetti

Proposing our next goal.

You point I follow..

But first a lunch stop, Pic de Gabedaille to the rear. Classy lunch bag to the fore.
Fancy some herbs?

Dehydrated parsley is surprisingly good. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.
Tasty, and full of goodness...

Glad of the shade of the beech woods,  as we climb towards Port de Bernere mid afternoon

The path mainly hugs the bottom of the crags, but in places it is replaced by somewhat troubling slabs of rock laid over horizontally driven metal pins.

Or more reassuringly. sturdy ladders.

But it's worth the pull up. in order to reach, Lac d'Estaene.

Why resist?

Come on. a couple more inches under, they don't want to see that.

Oh, you do?

I'll send the link to the pay-per-view site        

What an irresistable spot for a dip...

So once my callipygian companion is returned undrowned by the lake sprites.

I engage in a bit more careful 'product placement'

Thanks guys for the fabulous {.......} I really couldn't have managed this trip without my trusty {........}Send more!

You don't really want me to do a kit list, do you?

Most refreshing "Not as cold as Dartmoor" we reassure a couple from Somerset, encountered earlier, who opined that we were 'brave'

 Refreshed and redressed on we go.

 Pointy bits, and nice clouds...

We skirt under limestone cliffs. through sculptural woodland.

From a distance the path across the scree looks a little tenuous.

But it's fine, maybe just not side by side.
Revealing here my tendency to look like a mobile jumble sale whilst backpacking. 
But one has to keep up with the laundry...

A few more miles across high moorland towards Candanchu

Out of season ski stuff is darn ugly.
Plus skiing's really bad for your knees..
Expect its fun though.

"This would make a great set for a zombie movie"

Glad to move on, as it's all closed up, and a bit bleak, the mist doesn't help...

Having in tents thoughts?

Trying to find a camping spot that evening was one of those situations where you start to feel you're running out of options...

 But of course somewhere was found, a bit late, a tad lumpy, but perfectly adequate if you have the luxury of inflatable mats.
 I don't mind carrying the extra weight, and performing the 'CPR'  in order to gain a good nights sleep.

Pitch 4. by Rio de Canal Roya. a river not a canal.

Today 23 km 650m ascent

The morn finds the 'Brewmaster', just visible crouching in the shadows over the beloved meths stove, we brought 200g loose tea, nothing happens before tea.

 Showing promising sunlight on the hills to which we head.

Obligatory 'cow hiding in a bush' shot. How much are they worth?

Dirty Girls striding out...

First airing of 'The Skowel' fashioned from a piece of stretchy seersucker, two darts and poppers at the top, it dries ones personage, then itself, prettily, pretty quick.

Walking in a skirt in hot weather is so much airier.

You chaps should try it.
If you can find a colour to go with your gaiters...

So tell me why, for the western male, that two tubes of fabric say 'manly' , one tube says 'threateningly effeminate'?

Unless, of course, if it's a kilt...Baffling.

The valley "Looks a bit like Scotland"

Yes it does a bit, but with added advantages...

Not being eaten alive by midges whilst brewing up, being chief amongst....

Utthita Trikonasana, whilst waiting for the water to boil. I got a very satisfying clunk out of my lower back here.... Shouldn't really do it in shoes, but there is much evidence of passing cows..

Someone's thought about their breakfast bowl - legwear co-ordination'

 A perfect bowl shaped amphitheater amplifies the cacophony of campanology, provided by the bell toting livestock many and various.

Can see why they're all here, it looks like good grass.

Up out the back of the Valley, that way.

You coming then?

Biggish plants for this altitude.

Looking up, towards Pico de Anayet.

Enjoying the view??

These folks on the summit must have done.
Maybe up there next time?

And on the plateau, a reedy lake, and lots of hosses,

  A bit of a rest, and a chance to look at the map.

Spanish maps can be a a triumph of faith and optimism, over reality on the ground.

Something along the lines of "If we draw a path here, perhaps one will miraculously manifest?"

Whilst OH is engaged in perusing the cartography, I mooch about bothering the ponies.

Then I spot a chap wearing a familiar 'event' Tshirt.

Naturally we have by chance run into Mr P' ; a walking chum of OH, who lives a whole 30 miles down the road in Devon.
He's quite tall isn't he?

Dave works for the police, thankfully not the fashion police, so was not professionally obliged to arrest us for crimes against good taste.

He did approve of his skirt tho'.

Back down again then?
Whatever happened to 'Don't lose height?'

Practical Yoga - Prasarita Padottanasana for streamside chores with no back strain.

A Lunch stop, and a bit of primitive laundry.
 Don't fret, no soap used, just good old fashioned beating it on a stone.
 Sometimes a bit of river mud helps too...Wash it in, wash it out, other grime goes too.

Each to their own....

Further down the valley, we pass a lady gathering bilberries with her purpose  built combing box.
Looks like a good crop this year.

He could carry off a skirt..But choosing a colour?

Another Ski town - Formigal.

Hope at least some of the dosh created stays in the area to compensate for the Uglification.

Looks like the local cattle are enthusiastic about "Making their own fun in the country."

Here we took the shortcut, as indicated on the map, to avoid too much road walking.

One of those 'shortcuts' that takes a little while longer.

Marmots are a bit like small fuzzy badgers, so fuzzy they're impossible to focus on...

This is one of many, many unsuccessful marmot shots. No matter there's probably a niche for them somewhere.

These burrow living critters had us confused for days, as they chirrup like birds, but only when just out of sight,

The map thought we might like to spend ages unnecessarily clambering across a boulder field.
We rather unsportingly thought otherwise.

Gentian, one of very few 'true blue' flowers.

We resort to roadwork, to escape the resort.

Back on track, passing stone walled fields to reach Salient de Gallego, civilisation (good coffee) and food stores.

Where we get a bit overexcited shopping for comestibles...

"Are you really going to eat all those peaches?"

Civilisation? Processed Pork n Cheese sausages. Really? Err, No thanks.

Another fun ghi

'Wiggly tin' in tile form.

He indulges my nosing at other peoples veg' patches...

Come on then!....Yes, but you just don't see hay-tedders like this round our way any more...

This chap has a fabulous view from his allotment, and good sized leeks.

I know - Cheeky- but look at the size of his alliums!

Pack generously stuffed with supplies, we'll not be hungry tonight.....Perhaps because we don't carry quite so much in the way of 'subcutaneous emergency supplies' we tend to take everso slightly more food than we need. Just as well really;

 " Don't let me get hangry.
 You wouldn't like me when I'm hangry"
This bit of landscape engineering has a certain utilitarian elegance

A fine Pyrenean wheat beer at the lake-side bar, yes it would be nice to have two more but..

We need to cover a bit more ground to get to...

Pitch 5, Plana Tornadizas,
Today 24km 950m ascent

True blue, Monkshood

If you ever have the ms Fortune to go camping with me, don't expect me to be much use in the tent department after a beer. At least not 'til it's up.


Displaying his porky haul...

Then I go and spoil it all by suggesting we eat some vegetables....

A tad chilly here by the river, but bright skies again.

Breaking camp. I did help, honest..

Cold enough to need the down jacket, but the usual laundry dangling, tidy not really my look, more 'Salon of Hedgebackwards'

 Just as well I'm not trying for a third career as an outdoor gear model.

It's a rare sight to see a somewhat weather beaten forty something female in those catalogues...
If they are to be believed it would appear that only twenty-nothing girls who look like they've been kept in a cupboard all their lives; go camping.....with middle aged guys...

No matter, I'm getting some bovine interest...Nice ear tags guys

Sadly, we must leave them and press on, towards the fearsome sounding Cuello del Infierno,

Allegedly the gnarliest bit of the GR 11.

Will we get over the pass before the afternoon weather closes in? That's when storms up high are most likely here.

Or will the lure of lakeside lolling prove irresistable??



  1. Oggling other folks Veg patchs is obligatory :-)


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