The morning of Day 17 saw us walking under another mizzly sky, which persisted until we paused for elevenses, whereupon, with incredible speed, the cloud lifted and we could see the valley into which we were about to descend. I’m sure that must have also been a benefit for all of the paragliders jumping off the hillside and aiming for a landing field next to the lake (at one point we spotted eleven in the sky all at the same time). Before we could tackle the descent down to Loudenvielle, we had to negotiate a gathering of very pretty cows and calves who had decided that the path was the most comfortable place to be:
We were supposed to end our day at Loudenvielle, but when we got there decided to extend it to Germ, and when we got there we decided to extend it to Cabane d’Ourtiga. The bit just after Germ, once the bulk of the ascent was dealt with, gave us a nice contouring path from which to appreciate the surroundings:
Suddenly, part way up the Val d’Aube (in which sits the Cabane d’Ourtiga) there was a scene of devastation before us. This doesn’t really capture the way the trees had been uprooted, snapped and thrown down the steep hillside:
The path may not have been cleared and for a little while we struggled to follow its path, but once back on track we found that someone has been out with a couple of tins of paint to indicate which trees need to be stepped over:
The area of devastation was small, in the grand scheme of the area, and soon it was forgotten as we reached the majesty of the head of the valley::
When Mick was expressing his doubts at finding a good pitch, I suggested maybe next to the Cabane would be a good spot. Mick replied that he didn’t even know where the cabane was as he’d seen no sign of it. He’d been so distracted by what was ahead of him that he hadn’t looked right, where it was sitting as clear as day. It was a very good pitch next to it too … just a pity that the arrival of four chaps to spend a night in the cabane and to have a fire outside caused us to pack away and move on:
Lac d’Oo: so named because people come upon it and say ‘Ooooh’? It’s certainly worthy of an ooh, particularly with those waterfalls. The one captured in this shot is, apparently, 273m high:
The waterfall below was a comparatively small one, but in this snap is put into perspective by the presence of me, crossing at the bottom of it:
It was only from up high that the magnificent shape of this bowl could be captured on camera (or at least, on my little point-and-click):
And then we walked back into the cloud. Harrumph. If I’m going to go to the effort of walking up high, then I really would prefer to see my surroundings:
Having collected the minimum amount of water that would see us through the night on our way up the pass from Lac d’Oo (it was a long pull up there; didn’t want to carry extra water unnecessarily…), on the basis that we would almost certainly pass more later on, we went on to kick ourselves when all other streams were dry. We knew there was a chance they would be, but every single other time we had collected lots of water at the last reliable water source, we had gone on to pass more. We ended up walking on further than intended (making this our highest ascent day, totalling 6500’) in our search for more water, and I did actually dance a little happy dance when I spotted the tell-tale moisture on the ground surrounding this piped spring…
… as it happened, we ended up not using that water. Even so, when we woke up to a thunder storm and a bit of a miserable day, we also found ourselves rather pleased that we had walked on the day before. In fact, we kicked ourselves that we hadn’t put in 45-minutes more effort and made it to Superbagneres.
Day 19 was the first day of the trip that we broke out the waterproof over-trousers. It was also the only day that I didn’t get the camera out. With hindsight, if I had reached for the camera to take this snap below then I probably would have noticed that a) I hadn’t sealed the bag it was in; and b) it was getting wet. As it was, when the cloud parted (quite a few times we got a burst of visibility where we would find ourselves in a gap between two layers of cloud, then with unfeasible rapidity, it would close back in again) it was the phone, safely covered in a waterproof case, which was called into service:
Cake! I’ve not included any cake photos in this series of posts, which is negligent as there was cake eaten. This was the last one of the trip … which was probably also the most unattractive, but it was very tasty and soon despatched. The then-recently-deceased camera is there for scale.
The camera which took the vast majority of the snaps during this trip didn’t recover from its dunking on the last day. Considering it was 6 years old, had taken 9498 photos and had never once been kept in a protective case (it generally lived either loose in my pocket or in my hip-belt pocket; when it rained I put it in a ziploc type bag in the same place), it had a good innings.