Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pyrenees Day 9: Gavarnie -> Montagne de Pouey Boucou

The day's plan is for a short walk, about five hours, to pitch the tent somewhere in the Cirque d'Estaube (Greg, who always thinks of food, calls this "Cirque d'Escabeche"). We start late (9:30) after another crappy French breakfast, walk through Gavarnie, do a bit of last minute shopping, and then really set out.

After getting out of town the day really starts with a steep 600m climb to the Refuge des Espuguettes (2027m), which has a great location, fantastic views, and no terrace... odd. We continue on upwards another 400m to the Horchette d'Alans (2430m).

By this point we are in the sun and it was starting to get hot. The col offers great views of both the Cirque d'Estaube and the other side (the Breche, Tallon, etc. up to the Vignemale), so we could see some parts of day 2's hike. Unfortunately, a large group of loud Frenchmen are sitting in the best spot (and showing every sign of planning to stay there for quite a while... they can hardly be blamed), so we have a quick lunch looking out over the Vignemale and Breche de Roland and saying goodbye. :-(

A steep descent along a path with moderate crowds leads down into the Cirque. Halfway down we decide that we have plenty of energy and will finish the stage as described in Zu Fuss by continuing on to the Auberge de Maillet on the edge of the Cirque de Troumouse (Greg: "Cirque de Pamplemousse"). We pick up the pace a bit and head along the autobahn by the stream at the bottom of the Cirque, weaving our way through crowds. Along the way we look for possible campsites (if there's something good, might as well stick to the original plan!), but all of these are unfortunately either full of cows or right next to the autobahn, er, I mean "path".

After crossing the stream on a bridge (1680m), we set out cross country following an unmarked hint of a thought of a fantasy of a trail towards the Cirque de Troumouse. Eventually we find a real trail and start up another steep 200m climb. This is in the sun and quite hot, so our search for a campsite becomes a bit more serious. After crossing a stream we spot a potential site that doesn't pan out, but after a bit more exploration we find a nice location. The only problems are the thistles and the sheep poop. We solve both of these problems and settle in.

After admiring the views and having a nice nap in the sun, we start looking forward to the stargazing to come. These hopes are quickly squashed by the clouds that roll up the valley and over us as Greg makes dinner. We have dinner in the fog, listening to the retreating bells of the sheep as they move down into the valley (or wherever they go at night).

It's a wonderfully quiet night with neither adverse weather nor wind.

No comments: