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]

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Pyrenees Day 2: Cabane Artigue to Cabane d'Uls

Wednesday 13 July
14 miles (ish), 4700'
Some periods of sunny intervals and only a few sprinkles from passing showers that didn't trouble us to reach for the waterproofs.

As I got out of the tent this morning an "Ooooh" escaped my lips. Although it had rained on and off through the night until gone 6am, by the time I stepped outside the cloud had lifted and I could finally see our surroundings.

Mick's day started with an "eurgh". He spent yesterday afternoon feeling under the weather and woke this morning still nauseous and generally feeling eurgh.

"What do you want to do" I asked, thinking we might spend the morning at the cabane.

"Get up and go for a walk" he said and so we did.

Downhill we went, expecting that to be our direction all the way to Fos. Then we got to a junction where our maps said to go straight on but the waymarkers said to turn right. We contemplated and opted to follow the new route.

Ten minutes or so later I was cursing the route planners, as our track started heading uphill. It wasn't steep but seemed to go for a long time.

Half way through our descent down a steep wooded hillside, I forgave the route planners. Both guide books* gave the strong impression that the way of the old route was like a double diamond black run liberally carpeted in banana skins. The new route is probably at least three times longer in distance but it's nice underfoot and relatively gentle with its million switchbacks.

the sun was out as we reached the aqueduct on the way into Fos.

A pause for water was had in Fos but not a pause for coffee as it's Wednesday and Fos is closed on a Wednesday. Happily, the auberge in the next village, Melles, was open and there we joined 'Short Poncho Woman' (see Footnote 2) for coffee. Two in Mick's case. I took that as an indication that he was feeling better.

Not a great deal more progress was made up the road before a convenient bench appeared before us. Shaded and with an excellent view, it would have been silly not to declare it lunchtime there, particularly as the clock had struck one.

Eventually, we got to the end of the tarmac and our real ascent started. Some of it was pretty steep but the path was a nice one and the surroundings were superb.

one of the gentle bits of the ascent^^

Mick started to flag on the pull up the final steep bit so I asked to pass. It's not something I ordinarily do, but I really needed a wee and I needed put a pace on to get far enough ahead of the chap we could see coming up the switchbacks behind us (see Footnote 3).

The path then levelled out a lot, and became quite boggy, then before I knew it I spotted the cabane 200m off route. With cloud rushing up the hillside towards us we wasted no time in finding a flat bit of ground and throwing (a very soggy) Rita up.

^^Rita and Cabane d'Uls

Tea was had in the cabane with Short Poncho Woman and a couple and their dog who are just out for a couple of days, before the cold got too much for our feet and we retreated to the tent. The temperature has been good for walking today, but it's a bit parky sitting around at 6300'!

(* I have two guidebooks for this route. I'm carrying the Cicerone guide in full electronically, and as much of the Trailblazer guide (out of print) as I could be bothered to type out/thought would be useful, also electronically.
Footnote 2: we're playing a large scale game of leapfrog at the moment with two people: Short Poncho Woman and Yellow Trouser Man.
Footnote 3: I didn't want to get caught with my trousers down. That happened yesterday when Yellow Trouser Man suddenly appeared out of the mist at a most inopportune moment.)

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