The thing about accidents is that when they do happen, it always tends to be at the most in convenient time. The loss of my phone has not slowed me down or prevented from navigationng as it would have done to several of the walkers I have met, but it has prevented me from taking pictures of by far the best section of the route, The Haute Pureness from Cauterets to Bagneres du Luchon. As I was looking at some of this really spectacular scenery I did have a tinge of disappoint that I couldn’t photograph to share it with you. Then I thought at least I am lucky enough to have seen it and to paraphrase Mel Gibson’s Barve heart speach “You can take away my camera but you can never… take away my memories” Try saying it in a Scottish / Australian accent so you get the effect whilst I bare my bum.
From Cauterets I made my way up through the woods towards the Col de Riou on the direct to Luz Saint Sauveur. the original GR10 route. After about an hour I turned and looked at the mountains across the valley behind me. They were bathed in sunlight. I was heading east so the sun was rising from behind the mountain I was climbing and it was casting a shadow on the valley behind right about the tree line, but the rocky mountain tops were bathed in bright orange sunshine the contrasting colours were as vivid as the flag of Ireland, bright golden orange and green its was a amazing sight.
I arrived in Luz not intending to go into the town but to carry on the Bareges another 12k further on but the footpath was fenced of as the were doing some kind of flood prevention work to the river bed, so I was forced to walk up the road for 2km to pick the path up higher up the valley. Numerous groups of cyclists passed by, silent assassins with only the heavy breathing of some of the less fitter ones alerting me to there presence as they toiled up the early stages of the iconic Col de Tourmalet.
At the gite in Barges I met a group on a walking packaged holiday with one of the companies who book your accommodation and transfer your bags at the start of the day. The were mostly from England apart from a father and daughter from Australia. Sophie the daughter reminded me very much of my own daughter Victoria. Same colouring light brown hair and blue eyes. The even studied the same subject at university, evironmental science. I thought it was wonderful that she was making the trip with her dad and will suggest a similar trip to my daughter in a few years time. Also in the group was a man called John who was the finance manager for a group of private hospitals one of which, the Yorkshire clinic, was only 2 miles from my home. Another member of the group called Sarah said all here family were from Bradford although she was born in Warrington she went across to Bradford regularly and remarked on how chaotic the traffic was, and how “unpredictable” the standard of driving was in the City. Yes. Enough said. Sarah kindly took a group photo and then e mailed it to me. Sadly my I. T. Skills don’t reach to adding it here yet.
The next 3 days was a truly memorable. Absolutely awesome. First was a 23km hike to a lake side Refuge Hotel de l’Oule. Next was the hike to the wonderful mountain village of Germ where I stayed in a lovely little mountain Auberge. Then Lac d’Oo where I was booked in but in arrival the lady said I was the only guest so suggested I may prefer to head on another 3k, one hour to the mountain Refuge of d’Espingo which was about 1k of route but would save me an hour on the next day, allowing me more time in Bagneres Du Luchon to sort a new phone… Hurray. If I tell you the scenery was great I will be understating how good it really was but I don’t want this to become a list of superlatives so I will tell you about Bob. I met Bob at the Refuge d Edpingo. He was with Jim and the had come to climb on of the very big mountain peaks we looked across at from our Eagles nest at 1965 meters which was our accommodation for the night. Eve Though we were already at the height it would take them 4 hours to get to the top. Bob an ex Royal Marine had sold his place in London and ought a small Chambers D hotel near Luchon. He loved skiing and wanted to be in the mountains to have access to the slopes so moved out here. He told me that when he bought the place the previous owner told him he would enjoy 300 days of sunshine each year as well as some great winter snow. That really does seem like the best of both worlds.
I thoroughly enjoyed their company during our evening meal and in the morning we went our separate ways. They went even higher and u headed of to my journeys half way point and the treasures of Bagneres Du Luchon twin town of the Yorkshire town of Harrogate… I wonder if there will be a shop selling tea and cake?