Despite the fact that there was a snowman behind our tent, we didn’t feel cold tonight. But in the morning during breakfast it is quite chilly though. Because we don’t know what to expect from the supply possibilities along the way, we are sharing another Belgian sugar waffle with each other. It should give us enough energy to climb a few hundred meters, away from the flat landscape that is stuck to the Atlantic Ocean.
We see a hiker passing by. He is already working up a sweat. Immediately we wonder if he is also hiking the Haute Route Pyrénéenne (HRP). We secretly hope that it’s not the case. After all, Wim and I are the type of hiker that likes to be on his own. In the middle of nature we prefer to feel that we are all alone in this world.
After giving him a one hour lead, we think we have waited long enough so we’re not literally on his heels. We hoist our backpacks onto our shoulders and leave in good spirits. Although we have already taken our first steps yesterday, it is today that feels like the actual beginning. Because today we are heading towards the mountains. Today is the day we leave the civilized world behind us. Today is the day our real adventure begins.
The enthousiasm we had when we left is going downhill rather quickly. We both notice that our bodies still have to get used to the hard work. While gasping for air, the beautiful landscape gives me the excuse to rest for a while. About every five hundred meters I take the camera out its case. If it is already so beautiful over here, what will be witnessing the next forty days …?
The tickling of the butterflies in my stomach makes me forget the pain in my calves. I get tears in my eyes when I realize what an adventure we are facing. I know this is an opportunity not every earthly mortal has been given. I am overwhelmed by a feeling of great gratitude. I feel incredibly happy.
We catch up with the other hiker on a ridge. He stutters some French and Spanish words to us, from which Wim quickly deduces that he speaks Dutch just like we do. We have a short chat with him. We find out that he is walking a different route. Fortunately. We can see the same kind of relief in the man’s eyes. He is probably also looking for that feeling of being all alone in the world.
We continue to climb up to La Rhune where during my passage in 2011 the mist wrapped every view in white clouds. But today the beautiful landscape does show itself in all its glory. At the top we rest for a moment. Behind us we see a little train going up the mountain flank. Most tourists don’t climb to the top on their own. But we do …! It kind of makes me feel invincible.
The descent goes easy. That’s probably due to the fact that we have read in the topoguide that there is a bar in the small village in the valley. We run down helter-skelter. But the dream of a fresh beer is shattered by a sign with the word “fermada” on the door. We must therefore content ourselves with some fresh water from a source. But because we are so thirsty, that fresh water tastes even better than a draft beer.
A few meters past the village we find the perfect camping spot next to an old cow barn. The tent catches nice warm sun rays until late in the evening. While we have a beautiful view of the top of La Rhune, where we celebrated our first victory earlier today, we raise our mugs with fresh spring water. Cheers! To a beautiful honeymoon …!
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