The Pyrenean Traverse, Day 7: New perspectives

It is already 10 am when we leave. We decided to sleep in today. Fortunately the little shop in the village is opened. We forgot it was Sunday today … I ask the shop manager about the weather forecasts. It does not look very promising.

He asks us where we are going today. We explain that we are walking the HRP trail. He is clearly shocked by our reply and warns us – like so many already did before him – for the recently fallen snow and the harsh weather conditions at higher altitude. There is no doubt about it anymore: today we are taking an alternative route. The man says it is a wise decision.

While we descend on asphalt roads and dirt tracks about 900 meters towards the valley, we take into consideration all our options to continue our honeymoon. Should we leave France and opt for a trek through Austria perhaps? Or what about exploring Norway? Maybe just book a ticket to the sun? But no matter how beautiful these alternatives may sound, we can not deny that we would find it particularly unfortunate if we would not reach our planned destination Banyuls Sur Mer at the Mediterranean Sea…

In the village of Larrau, a bit further in the valley, the local shop also has a bar. We decide to warm up a bit and order a hot chocolate and a hot milk. I hope to get a taste of some fresh cow’s milk, but I have to satisfy myself with a steaming cup of milk from a box. It tastes good anyway and I even order a second one to regain strength. We are allowed to picnic in the bar and we do so extensively. After all, it is warm and dry here. And the bar is very cozy as well. It reminds Wim of “P’lien van de witte”, a rock-solid Flemish pub in the village where we live. P’lien is a very old lady who still runs her cafe on her own every day. When she tells stories about the war, everyone hangs upon her every word. A German soldier once held a gun against her head. It did not bother her at all. She looked him straight in the eye and said: “pull the trigger”. But fortunately he didn’t…

An Englishman with a heavy backpack also comes to score a coffee in this little paradise on earth. We start talking to each other. He is walking the GR10 and shows us his route. After a quick inspection of the map, we agree that we are going to follow the GR10 to the village of Lescun as well. Officially it takes three days to get there on foot, but we have to manage it in just two.

With renewed energy we get moving again. When we arrive at the planned final destination of the day, we decide to continue a bit further. It does not rain continuously anymore and we hope to be able to reach Lescun on time. The path immediately rises steeply. But it is only half as tiring as yesterday. We realize that with a combination of the HRP, the GR10 and the GR11 trails we might still have a chance to succeed. It gives us courage.

Against all odds, it turns out to be a stunning trip today along some kind of canyon, where we have to cross a long suspension bridge over a deep abyss. People with fear of heights would get spontaneous gastrointestinal complaints here.

We climb even further until we plant the tent, somewhat sheltered from the wind, beside a small river. It is cold, so we cook and eat our meal in the tent. It consists of powder soup and a can of ravioli. Some pistachio nuts should serve as dessert. For hours I listen to the river that inexhaustibly continues to carry water downhill. The wind occasionally pulls the tent canvas. Dear wind, please blow hard enough. So tomorrow all the clouds are gone.

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