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 18 July 2015

Day 6 - Col de Sourzay to Logibar

We stepped out from our sheltered (wonky, midge-infested) pitch this morning and as the breeze hit us it felt like we were standing in front of a warm fan. The cloud cover had completely disappeared overnight, after rain which amounted to maybe a total of 10 minutes (and on reflection I think that thunder must have been a plane), so it looked like we were in for another hot one.

Our path to rejoin the GR10 was easily found and followed, but we hadn't got far before I asked Mick to stop so that I could smell him. Detecting no offensive aroma coming from him I had to conclude that the awful smell emanated from me (it wasn't a sweaty smell but an awful not-washed-for-months one). For the next hour and a half I continued to complain in the same vein (and sniffed Mick a few more times) before Mick finally remembered that we hadn't passed a bin since lunch yesterday ... and we'd had sardines for lunch. That'd be it: fish juice gone off. It was a relief when we found a bin at Chalets D'Iraty and the smell miraculously disappeared (lesson learnt: if eating fish in this weather, rinse the empty tins at the first opportunity).

By Chalets D'Iraty, I was ready to eat a scabby dog, even though it was only 10 am and we'd only had second breakfast half an hour earlier (it must be all this effort in this hot weather). Accordingly, it took great self-restraint not to mug a chap walking up the road clutching two baguettes,  but not long afterwards we found the shop and had our own bread. I managed to make it a whole pace out of the shop door before biting into one of them and a sizeable chunk failed to make it into my pack. We then went next door to the restaurant and had a proper second breakfast overlooking the most stunning cloud-inverted view.

An hour later when we came to leave (armed with a platty full of ice-cold water) we had a route decision to make. One option was the variant route which goes down the road via Larrau,  which comes in at about 6 miles. Then there is another variant which simply omits the main lump on the main route, saving 1.5 miles and a chunk of ascent. Or, there's the main route which goes over Pic D'Escaliers and is 10.4 miles. Given that it had clouded over and there was now a cooling breeze, we could see no reason not to take the main route so that's exactly what we did.

As nice as it was (particularly the hillside-hugging descent path) I'm not convinced it was worth the extra effort. Moreover, if I had known that the cloud and wind would clear to leave us with another scorching afternoon (although 35 degrees was the highest I recorded today) then I likely would have voted for an easier option.

The final descent of the day was a very long time coming and, as the narrow path went on and on, up and down*, we started to conclude that we had completely misjudged our water requirements upon leaving Chalets D'Iraty. A spring-fed cattle trough, the spout of which was trickling with gorgeous cold water saved us from a very thirsty descent.

The final descent, when it did eventually come, was (once again) the hardest part of the day, being another of the steep and eroded sort. It did finally deposit us at Logibar where we thought the chances of one of their two double rooms being free at such short notice on a Friday night would be slim-to-none. Our expectations were proved false and thus we are now ensconced in lodgings. I wonder how many other people will turn up tonight - we've only seen two others all day.

(*I called Mick back at one point to show him a thistle that looked like it had been sprayed with blue paint. Little did I know when i did so that the next few miles would be lined with them.)

(Post blog note: 9pm and it has been lashing it down for the last hour, complete with flashes and rumbles. Seems we chose a good night to kip indoors! This posting will now be delayed as I'm not going out in this to find a signal.)


  1. I also stayed at Logibar but nothing in my journal brings back a mental picture. I did have a long conversation with the Guardienne and a French couple in French apparently, and ate well there. I arrived there on my seventh walking day. Not that it's a competition, but how many days has it taken you? You keep referring to "calling Mick back", sounds like that typical scene of man walking fifty yards ahead of female companion, but knowing you Gayle and your walking prowess that sounds unlikely.

    1. We are a typical walking couple in that about 99% of the time, Mick walks ahead of me, albeit only usually by a pace or two. The reason for that is that I have a complete inability to maintain a steady pace and it drives Mick mad to walk behind me with my slow-slow-quick-quick-slow walking style, so he goes ahead as pacemaker. The only exception is on some downhills; as I am generally faster downhill, if Mick gets fed up of me treading on his heels then he insists that I go ahead.

  2. The 'thistle' may be Pyrenean Eryngo - the alpine variety is called Queen of the Alps. You'll get to love its silvery fronds.

    1. I was indeed very taken by them, and as it turned out, we were accompanied by them for far longer than just that day.

  3. Keyer Soze to Yogi Bear?
    I had to read that twice.
    Thunderstorms: Lodgings. This is good. There will be beer for Mick.
    I first met Gayle in April 2007 and we went to a boozer (you could not possibly call it a pub) for lunch. I was aghast that she did not want a beer! I believe I may have made up for her abstemiousness (is that a word?)
    These are impressive climbs ascents you're managing here. All slightly worrying. I thought it would be far more... 'level' than this? The French seem to be as geographically challenged as the Scots! They need a few large rollers.

    1. Actually, I do believe that I had half a pint of beer with you on Good Friday in 2007 (I didn't give up drinking until 2011). I'm also sure it was only the fact of having a bladder the size of a thimble that preventing me from indulging in more :-)

      There are a few stages on the first half of the GR10 where the ascent figures are low ... but those were generally the stages that we ran into another stage, such that we hadn't finished walking by lunchtime; as a result, I'm not sure we had any low-ascent days.