Pyrenees 2012 Holiday
In conjunction with the Pyrenees gallery I'll describe the holiday by each Day which will help figure out what the photos are about. I won this chalet as my First prize last year but moved the dates from the Grand Raid Pyrenees race week to later in September and invited Amanda and Andrew Heading of www.RaceKit.co.uk along with Steve. Gerard the chalet owner was very keen to meet Steve as twice I have done the race without my husband and I think he doubted I had one!
Saturday 22nd - flew out basically overnight. Andrew drove from Toulouse via a supermarket to Vielle Aure and checked into the chalet at Ferme la Gayri We were given a very warm welcome by Gerard and Marie and invited for drinks at 7pm. We relaxed for a while and went over. Drinks became dinner and it was a wonderful relaxing night. Amanda speaks good French while Andrew a little. I speak none and Steve gets by with farmer handsignals.
Sunday 23rd - Day 1 in the photos - All keen for a good day out we got up early and were walking by 10am. Assuming he map would be semi reliable we picked a circular route up and round a mountain we could see from the chalet. Three hours up we had come to the end of the "path" and we basically climbing directly up the face. Luckily there was some grass to be had to the top. Our plan had then been to follow the ridge along to the next top before dropping to a lake and following a track down. The ridge path didn't exist and after an hour of contouring it was now 3pm and so we decided to drop to the stream, get water and then find the track down. Although a steep rocky descent it achieved the objective. Finding the "track" which was no more than a path we descended rapidly to the car and food!!!! 9 hours. In the evening we had a lovely pizza in the town of Saint Lary Soulan. The weather was warm 20C and sunny with broken cloud. Overnight it rained hard but was clear again in the morning.
Monday 24th - Day 2. So a lessor day was asked for and being the owner of the map I tried to oblige however short, scenic flat routes were not in abundance and so I chose one that didn't look too far but did have a little climb (1200m) in it. All was going quite well as we climbed. I was a little worried we weren't moving very far on the map although our ground speed was good. I was also a little worried about the snowy ridge up above us that it looked like we had to traverse on our way back but having got so far (on a proper path) I was hopeful that this ridge path might exist. I was formulated a turnaround plan for 3pm but as it happened we reached the furthest point having done all the climb at 2.55pm. The ridge path did exist and was mainly ok until we hit a very steep descent over slabs of rocks. Now I'm not one to be too worried about exposure unless its windy but even I couldn't look down especially as the flatter bit of the rocks was very near the edge which looked like it could break off at any moment. Anyhow using the old adage of five or more points of contact I led the way down trying to sound confident. The others followed - not much choice really! I took photos of then and later on looking back at the descent. After that the path was rather nice and dropped us quickly back to the car at about 6pm. 8 hours We ate in this night on chicken, salad and baked potatoes. The weather had been a lot cooler which was nice and was dry overnight.
Tuesday 25th - Day 3. I tried to plan an easy day of 6 hours walking up along to some lakes. However mistakenly going through a gate and following some red paint we were led off the main path into some woods. So once again we ended up trying to follow a "little path" with spurious cairns that ended up with another direct route to the summit. The ridge path also soon dissolved and so we were left contouring to the col before meeting the proper path and heading down. 7 hours By now daily "appray hike" beers were the norm and getting bigger the harder the day was so dinner was later and rather frantic as open "end of season restaurants" were becoming more scarce!! However dinner was found and very nice too. Another sunny day but rain was forecast for Wednesday so a day off hiking was needed.
Wednesday 26th - Day 4. Gerard had very kindly offered to show us round a friend's farm and so after a very leisurely breakfast we set off in his landrover. It had rained quite hard overnight and snow had fallen on the hills. We were shown first round his modern cattle shed which included admiring his pile of silage; part of this process has to be smelling the silage - it's quite normal for farmers to thrust a handful under your nose enthusiastically but to non-farmer's the smell is quite distasteful. Amanda and Andrew did a stirling job of seeming impressed! Then we were off to see the farmer's rare cattle of which there are only 150 in the world. We were all impressed! We also were impressed at the dog guarding the sheep in a field across the road.
Thursday 27th - Day 5 So our last day hiking. We retraced our Day 3 descent path up the mountain and found the lakes which were very stunning. Following the path upwards we considered climbing a peak but it looked dodgy and so we just took photos and trundled down again! I was very impressed at the pointy cairn stone that to my mind was pointing people down - but no-one else seemed to understand the "language of the cairns" so I had to translate all the way down. 8 hours.
Friday 28th - home time!!