Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pyrenees Day 5: Refugio de Goriz -> Sercue

We got a fairly late start (9:15) after buying a bit of wine for the evening meal and watching all the climbers depart for their assaults on Monte Perdido. We head the other way and have a nice easy beginning following a contour line along the Sierra Custodia (the outside of the canyon). We're above Monday's path today and have a great view back of the waterfall in the Circo Soaso, Goriz and Monte Perdido.
Walking through the pastures of the thousands of sheep, but they are now far below. Around 11:00 we take a little side trip to the edge of the canyon and look out over Monday's path.
It's still early enough that the autobahn is empty. Speaking of which, we seem to have left the high traffic zone: we've only seen one other hiker heading this way so far.

After passing a saddle and having a nice hour walking across a big "meadow" in the sun we try to find water at the Cuello Arenas (1894m, 12:00) but discover that the spring is dry. In fact, everything around here is dry. This triggers a bit of anxiety until we find a cow trough being fed by a trickle of water. We pump a couple liters and then move on.

Instead of taking the road down to Nerin, we follow a recommendation from Zu Fuss and set out for the nearby ridge to follow the national park boundary for a while. There are no paths, so we just start across a herd of cows. After noticing that one of the "cows" had a penis, we beat a quick retreat to the road and walked around the herd before climbing to the ridge. We walk from knob to knob for a while then stopped for lunch (1:00-1:45) atop a knob. We have excellent views of the mountains and the coming clouds. Coming clouds?!?!?

At the end of the ridge (La Estiba, 2004m) we head 100m down a steep slope to meet the path at the bottom. There's no path, but the low shrubs that cover the slope provide surprisingly good footing. This path is stony and exposed, but very well marked (by both yellow dots and stonemen... this provokes a little story about the battle between the way markers). The clouds turned into a couple of minor showers, but nothing too bad. After arriving in Nerin (1280m, 3:50) and walking around all 15 buildings, we find the one (out of two) open bar/restaurant/hotel and have a refreshing beverage. There was no market and no bread... oh well.

We set off along the GR15 for Sercue at 4:30. It's still hot and the sky is blue and cloudless (ha ha... not for long). Arrive in Sercue (1190m, 5:20), a mostly abandoned village (a couple reoccupied buildings) with a notable lack of water. Greg search for a good camping spot and Andrea looks for water. We're both successful: Andrea finds a fountain/washing place about 50m below town and Greg finds a campspot about 20m above town. The two geniuses lug water 70m after Greg has a "Nalgene shower".

After pitching the tent, we start dinner with soup and dumplings. Thunder starts. nearby. Andrea efficiently packs stuff away while Greg efficiently finishes making dinner. The rain starts just as dinner is finished. Greg moves everything to the tent vestibule and we prepare to have a cramped meal (neither vestibule nor tent is particularly large). The rain stops. We have dinner outside. More thunder, more packing, quick clean up! The rain starts. We finish our wine in the tent and listen to the rain start and stop repeatedly. We also listen to the 27 flies that are trapped under the fly of the tent as they fly and buzz around... but they can't get in.

There's rain and thunder and lightning throughout the night. More flash and bang than wet, but a very exciting night. The tent does great and we stay dry.

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