De Pyreneeënoversteek/Pyrenean Traverse Dag/Day 24 FEAT

The Pyrenean Traverse, Day 24: GR10, how nice to see you again!

When we want to leave our host makes us aware of a tricky part that we have to cross today. We are definitely going to need our crampons, he warns as he puts a finger in the air. We thank him for the warning, and with full confidence we set off towards “our” GR10 trail, which we had to miss for so long.

The white and red coloured signs send us uphill over a dazzlingly beautiful narrow path. We climb around a thousand feet without much effort. On the way we pass three Frenchmen. They are brothers and they are all well into their seventies. Together they hike a part of the GR10 trail for a week. One can only have respect for that.

When the path leads us out of the forest, we arrive on a col. One mile earlier we were still in the middle of nowhere, but here an asphalt road suddenly runs over the mountain. I think it’s an anti-climax. We had to do so much work to get here, while the day-trippers did not even waste one drop of sweat by taking the car.

The number of day-trippers that we see climbing further uphill with their little backpacks gives us hope that higher up it must be particularly beautiful. We each eat a banana and two chocolate rolls to conquer the next altimeters. I quickly put on a pair of warm pants, because here it is much cooler than in the valley. Wim takes the risk to continue with bare knees.

A bit past the devilish asphalt road we suddenly find ourselves in a stunning landscape. The day-trippers split off from the GR10 trail and we climb practically all alone to the highest peak. On the way we doubt for a minute how we need to continue the rest of the climb. The signage is not clear. A man comes to our aid and explains that it is uphill to the left. He knows the route like the back of his hand and has done it at least seven times before, he says with pride. Wim still doubts and has a “right-side-up” feeling.

On his gps Wim shows to the man that our route is different. The guy is apparently very anti-gps, finds it logical that we lose our way due that horrible thing and stubbornly insists that it is to the left. Wim also is not likely to change his mind and eventually we split ways. Together with his wife the man goes to the left. And we go to the right…

After we have crossed a small snow field and continue to climb up against the flank, we suddenly see someone clinging to some grass blades against the mountainside. It is the wife of the anti-gps man from just now. She tries to pull up her body against the steep flank. Apparently they have chosen the wrong path. Wim can not suppress a little laugh.

We stop at the beautiful Port de Saleix for a lunch break. The wind blows like a madman between the two peaks, where we have installed ourselves in the saddle of the mountain. It is terribly cold, but behind a rock that we use as a windbreaker, I can withstand the elements. We enjoy our first-class picnic spot. It is amazingly beautiful out here!

We stay in this enchanting place for a long time, but then we move on to the highest point of the day. It is here that we need to put on our crampons. The expected snow covered mountain flank does not look too dangerous, but as a Dutch proverb says: “a warned man is worth two”. So, as exemplary students, we fit the crampons to our boots and climb up.

Everything runs smoothly and safely. Only when I tap the ice from my crampons past the snow field I see how beautiful it is over here. And cars can certainly not get here. This view is only reserved for people who come here on foot …

We descend further through the snow with intentional and unintentional slidings. When we arrive at the Refuge de Bassiès, our question whether we may set up the tent appears not to be that common. Yet we can put it up anyway and we find a real star spot for it too.

We eat something super simple with the things we find in our backpack. Fortunately we can sit inside the hut, because the cold sharp wind cuts through all clothing. I make friends with a mountain dog named Iesty. I tell her what a wonderful day it was today. My enthusiasm is cheerfully answered with squeaky sounds and a crazily wagging tail. I smile and give Iesty a hug. This is how perfect happiness feels like.

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