The GR10 is, generally, very well marked with little red and white stripes but you have to concentrate at bit. Some of them are rather worn. After an hour or so walking in the mornings I find myself going off into dreamy states and that’s when things go wrong.
Corners are where it all falls apart. Cattle tracks lead you off into swampy areas and paths disintegrate. Suddenly nothing feels right and there are no red and white reasurances.The thought of backtracking is a pain. Twice now I have taken off my rucksack and retraced my steps. Just outside Arrens I found the route again and 10 minutes later realised I was headed back towards town. Horrors! All that wasted effort. In the mist I had not recognised the path back. About face and only 20 minutes lost.
I am not alone in this. On the same stage I overtook a French couple downhill only to lose my way at an iffy turn left sign. After 15 minutes of struggling with non-existent paths in the woods I met the same couple doing likewise. We all searched around for a while until I realised that the sign I had thought was a right turn was a left turn for people coming up the hill. I never saw them again. They may still be in those woods. Which reminds me of the notices for missing persons you see from time to time on the Park National boards.
Saw what I think was an Ibex on my way down from a refuge at Ilehou. Certainly there were lots of marmots and birds of prey.
Cauterets is a fair-sized town, sadly the locals failed to wait up for my arrival and were still tucked up when I left. I arrived very tired and asked a man with a dog where the camping was. He didn’t know or care, but I found one anyway and was amazed to find myself on the next pitch to an Aussie couple I had met three times already. Shock on shock, they have been hitching lifts!
Noodles again and bed. I have been giving some thought to Leo’s offer to reduce the volume of the some of the mountains in order to ease my way. Being serious for a moment, I am worried about interferring with nature in this fashion. Remember the business of ‘All forces meeting equal and opposing forces and opposites attracting’ that we learned at school? Physics I think, or possibly Biology. Anyway it occurs to me that reducing the Pyrenees could have serious consequences for somewhere else. Just imagine if we suddenly had the Somerset unlevels, Glastonbury tor might soar and the locals might suddenly experience a real high for the first time in their lives. Thanks Leo but perhaps not eh?
Staying at the home of Rob and Emma Mason in Bareges tonight with the promise of a curry. Many thanks to them for that and the use of their computer for this. If you fancy doing some walking in the mountains with a guide who does know where he’s going then check out their website at: www.mountainbug.com
Cheerio for now, Ted