The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Day 1 - Bagneres de Luchon to Cabane Artigue

Tuesday 12 July
12.5 miles-ish with 5400'
Dry start then persistent rain

After passing my "completing a transaction in the Post Office" French language test, and after a spot more shopping, it was 10.20 before we got out of Luchon.

Our next test was the "walk uphill continously until over 5000' of altitude has been gained" one. Quite an ask for the first day of a trip, but we only have ourselves to blame for not doing it last year at the end of the previous trip.

The Trailblazer guidebook (2005 edition, now out of print) made it sound like the walk out of Luchon through the village of Sode and up to the higher village of Artigue would be mainly on roads. It wasn't at all. The woodland paths weren't spectacular but it was perfectly pleasant.

After stopping for water at the tadpole-filled public fountain in Artigue, off we went again, this time to ascend into the cloud.

We saw very little for the rest of the day and thus have no idea exactly how spectacular our surroundings were.

Not long after entering the cloud base, it started to mizzle. By the time we got up onto the border ridge (involving a brief foray into Spain) it was raining. It's still raining now as I type this at 8pm.

We could have avoided the border ridge, but to do so would have involved a descent to reascend and I preferred the thought of a continuous ascent, particularly as it only went 100m higher than the bypass route. Mick may beg to differ as he was suffering a loss of energy before we got to the top. A result of the altitude or the continuous climbing, we didn't know, but to rule out other possibilities we paused for a drink and some biscuits, vaguely sheltered by a border marker, before completing the last couple of minutes of the climb.

The descent was hard going on our tired legs but by and by we reached a cabane* and decided to stay the night. Not inside, per the invitation of the two people already in residence. Rather, Rita was pitched on a bit of a slope outside.

We did pop in for tea, and by the time we left there were five people staying in there tonight (only one of whom spoke English and I was struggling to follow most of what was being said in French). As the sleeping platform is exactly five sleep-mats in width, it's going to be a cosy night for them, although at least they'll have dry tents in the morning.

(*We'd already passed 3 other cabanes. We didn't pause at the first as it contained a couple in bed - at 2.15 in the afternoon. The next two were together, with one in use by a cowherd and the other locked.)

Completely forgot to put any photos in the text so here's one of us at our high point of the day (altitude-wise) at 2193m. The sheep behind us did not move an inch whilst we were there. I don't think she was happy with the weather.


  1. I had wondered if that was an animal or a rock over Mick's shoulder! Fingers crossed less cloud tomorrow. And less rain.

  2. I thought it was a small donkey carrying rucksacks. The ears look too big for sheep.

    1. Mick reckons it was a goat. Definitely not a donkey though - I know some people cross the Pyrenees with the beasts but I'm sure its less trouble to just take less and carry your own stuff!