Walking, Sweating, Meeting and Eating.
First day, full of excitement. Fiona turned out to be an excellent car thief while Doug decided that sliding down gravel was a better idea than walking down it. I’m sure they will fill you in on the details.
Aside from that it was a fairly tough start; the climb out of Hendaye was long and steep in parts. In fact it was quite a rude shock on the basis that the first day was considered easy by our 15 year old guide book. Thankfully the weather was partially on our side and it never really got over 30 degrees, unlike yesterday which had been touching on 37/38. We managed to surpass our first day’s target of 20k and pushed on 4k into day 2. When we reached camp we were graced with the joy of couscous, corned beef and pesto. Delicious. If you haven’t tried that combo give it a shot and drop us your thoughts.
“At first you don’t think it will be an issue but the constant sweating and the sun beating down on you is unbearable.”
After a yoga session put on by Fiona last night I wasn’t feeling too bad and the legs were feeling fresh. Doug was still moaning about his sore knee, so no change there. The real highlight of the day was the chocolatines that we had for brunch when we got into Sare, the first town of the day. Compliments to the baker. The weather today was not as kind as the day before with the heat reaching 35/36 degrees by 11am. As we were walking through a valley the heat was almost unbearable. Although, our new companion Josè didn’t seem to think so. When we first saw him he was clothed in black trousers, a black thermal top, an orange shirt, a black cap and to top it all off he had a buff that came up to his nose. When asked why he wore all these clothes on such a hot day he simply replied in half English, half Spanish that, “sol no bien for me”. For those of you who really speak no Spanish that means the sun isn’t good for him.
Due to the heat we decided that we best plan was to take a couple hours in the middle of the day to sit by a river and cool down. Even when we started walking again at 3pm ish, it was still boiling and a real struggle as we were fairly low on water. By the time we reached Ainhoa, which was only an hour or so on from the river where we had stopped, we were all struggling in the heat. At first you don’t think it will be an issue but the constant sweating and the sun beating down on you is unbearable. After another hour or so break we decided to keep going and climb up and out of Ainhoa. As it turned out this was one of the best decisions we have made so far. After 600 odd meters of climbing we reached a hunters cabin just over the track where we met Tepe and his friend, whose name is unknown. Apart from being completely out of the blue and amazing that we had met 2 random Frenchmen on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, they were also cooking cheese fondue. But it didn’t stop there. As the night went on they pulled out all kinds of delicious foods to share with us, including donkey chorizo. To top it all off they revealed that they were both members of a band and that they had their trumpet and saxophone with them. So the night ended with Tepe and his friend playing French music whilst the sun set. Very surreal but great fun.
Didn’t write yesterday as by the time we had got into camp we were all shattered and ready for bed. We had what was arguably the most difficult ascent of the trip yesterday and it took it out of all of us. Thankfully we made it through and the group put in a great shift today and we have managed to jump a whole day ahead. This means we are now in Saint Jean Pied de Port having a rest day. The group managed to get 100km done in 4 days which is pretty great going, especially considering the magnitude of some of the ascents we had to tackle.
Unfortunately the pace has taken a bit of a toll on Fiona’s feet and they are looking really sore and badly blistered. We will be spending the next couple of days here in Saint Jean Pied de Port and will dolefully get going again as soon as Fiona’s feet are back in shape.
So the recovery of Fiona’s feet isn’t quite going quite as we expected. The blisters are slightly worse than we thought. It looks like we may have to change our plan a wee bit. Fiona has a doctor’s appointment later on but it is looking like she will have to take a couple days to rest and hopefully meet us further along the trail. We shall see.