The Pyrenean Traverse, Day 1: One small step for men

The bag of one of the freeze-dried meals that Wim had in his backpack is torn due to the transport in the plane. Wim tries to save as much as possible, but a big amount of the pasta powder ends up in the dustbin. I notice that the case of the camera is also completely broken. Fortunately I can buy a new one in a local shop. In that same shop we only find gas bottles from the brand Campingaz, which don’t fit on our gas burner. Convinced that we will find a suitable gas bottle in another store in Hendaye, we already go greet the sea.

It is the official starting point of the route and the water looks beautiful today. The weather is nice, but it’s still pretty cool outside. It’s the reason why the beach is completely deserted.

I fill a small plastic bottle with water from the Atlantic Ocean and store it in my backpack. When we will arrive at the Mediterranean Sea in about a month and a half (we hope we will, anyway), Wim will fill the other bottle with water from the sea. Two bottles that we will keep forever and which will be a symbol for the beginning of our marriage. Because this, dear reader, is our honeymoon … Our very first adventure as husband and wife, will be the crossing of the entire French Pyrenees from west to east.

When my plastic bottle is filled, we continue looking for the right fuel for our burner. We cross the entire city, but we can not find the right type anywhere. Wim decides to buy another burner, which does fit a Campingaz bottle. With our new “outdoor kitchen” in our backpack we officially start our journey.

The first part I walk in my own footsteps. Because two years ago I hiked here together with my father on this exact same path to Santiago de Compostela. It evokes warm memories and I want to take pictures everywhere to nostalgically show to my father after our holiday. From a hill top we see the border I crossed to finally arrive in Spain, after having hiked over 2000 kilometers from Belgium. It all still looks the same, while I have changed so much. Not my appearance of course. But inside I have really become a different person. And besides that …, I am also married now, of course!

As we start at sea level, the route takes us immediately uphill. I quickly notice my backpack is far too heavy. Because I gained quite some hiking experience over the years, I thought that this year I could take a bit extra in that backpack of mine. A bit more luxurious and comfortable, you know. After all, we are on our honeymoon. But that little bit more luxury and comfort is already pushing me to my limits. Hopefully we will soon find a post office so I can send a few things back home!

At the last house before we walk out of the village we beg for some water, which we get after some insistence. It wasn’t given to us from the heart, but at least our bottles are filled up, so we can start looking for a camping pitch. Because our legs are about to explode after these first few kilometers, we decide to set up our tent a bit further near a water reservoir. A cheerful snowman is painted on the concrete construction. He can keep watch tonight.

Except for the snowman, no living soul can be found in this place. Wim wants to prepare some canned ravioli on his new gas stove. But his face turns white once he notices that the salesmen in the shop has palmed him off with the wrong material. The bottle still doesn’t fit the burner! Fortunately Wim brought some Esbit with him, with which we can still heat the food. We share a Belgian sugar waffle for dessert and then quickly crawl into the tent. We didn’t hike many kilometers on our first day. But it’s already crystal clear to me that this is not going to be a walk in the park…!

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