The Pyrenean Traverse, Day 8: Cooking with snow

Wim has sacrificed himself last night to sleep on my self-inflating mattress. Sacrificed, because since the very first night there is a leak somewhere in that mattress of mine. The first hour I am still quite comfortable, but after a while I just lie on the bare ground. That means that I have not slept well a single night. Except for last night.

I make coffee with the water from the river that flows next to the tent. We both eat two slices of chocolate cake. In a dense fog we climb to the top of the mountain, on which our tent stood last night. Due to the low hanging clouds we are not rewarded with any beautiful views.

We do see a pregnant horse lying in the fog on the grass. She lays her head on the ground and breathes heavily as we walk past. I think the white lady is about to give birth. We leave her be and continue to climb steadily.

When we start the descent we notice some blue spots in the cloudy sky. We dance of joy. After lunch, the blue colour wins the battle and the sun breaks through.

Despite the fact that we have already had an exhausting morning, we still add almost a whole hiking stage to it. That means another 1,000 meters of climbing and – as usual – quite some suffering.

The path climbs up through a deep gorge. Although the sun can hardly shine here, the gap is an oasis of greenery. So green even that it almost seems unnatural. Unreal beautiful!

After we have recovered from all this splendor, we exhaust ourselves with the further ascent. The path rises very steeply. We do not drink much because our water supply has almost run out. On the map we see that the path crosses a river. The contour lines are also a bit further apart at that location. It should be flat enough to put up a tent.

But when we arrive at our planned bivouac site, there appears to be no river at all. Camping does not make any sense here, because we really need water. We walk on, to look for a suitable place. In the absence of better, we set up the tent late in the evening near a small snow field. We melt the snow on our gas burner so we still get our much-needed drinking water. The water tastes good and we even prepare our dinner with it.

But where there is snow, it is cold. We put on our thermal underwear, bur our freezing feet quickly force us into the tent. Just before going to bed I ring my mother, because she is celebrating her birthday today!

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