Friday 24 July
With a short and easy day ahead of us (<10 miles and all downhill bar a couple of undulations) we had a lie-in this morning, and then hung around outside the refuge for a while, before heading off for Cauterets, to rejoin the GR10. There was no heaving on of our packs today; our food bags held just a few dregs and we didn't need to carry more than a litre of water, making our loads so light that we had to double check we hadn't left anything behind.
After the spectacular scenery of the last few days I didn't have high expectations for today, so found myself very pleasantly surprised. The first section was lovely but relatively unremarkable (save for having to stand aside for a flock of sheep being herded up the hill by two shepherds), until we got to Pont d'Espagne. The guidebook said this place would be busy and it was, so much so that we took a quick snap then hurried on through the crowds. As soon as we were onto the GR10 path we were almost on our own, at least for half an hour. From then on we broke the world record for the number of bonjours per kilometre.
What I didn't know about this section of path was that it clings to the most gorgeous river which is festooned with forces and falls. Very picturesque indeed, hence its popularity.
We were only 2km away from Cauterets at noon, but thought we may as well stop to eat the remaining contents of our food bags having carried them so long, then down into town we went.
After far too much walking around trying to decide where to stay (we'd walked out to find the nearest campsite, per my 2005 guidebook, only to find it doesn't exist any more and the others were further away than we wanted to go) we opted to sit in a cafe and drink coffee until the tourist office reopened after lunch. They gave us info on hotels and thus we found ourselves in a very basic place (in a set of rooms for 5 people, just for the two of us; pity it's on the top floor!), but it'll do nicely for the night.
Some shopping was needed once we got here. My t-shirt (for the patching of which I sacrificed part of my buff last week) desperately needed replacing (not sure I mentioned that on here - wet merino + rubbing bra clasp is never a good combination) and yesterday my heretofore comfortable bra became unbearably uncomfortable. So, this evening I have invested in a new t-shirt and have spent more on a new bra than I have ever spent on a bra before in my life (or, indeed, in the last five years combined). If it proves comfortable it will be worth it.
The bad news is that we were unable to get any SeamSeal here. We found SeamGrip, but that's not suitable for silnylon tents. Fingers crossed that we can find some in Luz St Sauveur tomorrow (or even a tube of silicon will do). Annoyingly, I carried a tube for the whole of the five weeks we were on the PCT in 2012 in case of leaks, but we had no rain. That tube has long since gone off, hence setting out on this trip without any. Oh, hindsight is such a wonderful thing, isn't it?