Friday, August 24, 2007

Pyrenees Day 1: Pont d'Espagne -> Oulettes de Gaube

We arrived in Lourdes at 8:00 on the overnight train from Geneva and took the 8:12 bus to Cauterets, where we had a nice breakfast and cursed the gray, drizzly weather. Since we wanted a slow start (and are lazy), we took the 10:00 bus up to Pont d'Espagne (1500m, 10:35) and walked up the GR10 to the Lac du Gaube (1800m, 11:45). Here we saw loads and loads and loads of people... bus loads of people. On the other side of the valley there's a gondola up to a path that is practically wheelchair accessible.

The piece of the GR10 that leads around the lake to the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube was bit rougher, so it cut the numbers down some. We had lunch in the drizzle on our way up the valley and arrived at the refuge (2150m) at 2:30. The crappy weather kept us from seeing the Vignemale or any of the other mountains around the bowl and caused us to reject the plan of camping (despite the nice spots around the refuge) so we slept inside. During dinner (decent, but not great) the clouds kept moving in and out of the bowl at the end of the valley; every two minutes we had a different view.
Of course we ended up right next to a chainsaw, so it wasn't a particularly restful evening.

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