Time seems to be passing us by so quickly now that we’re speeding towards the Mediterranean and really coming into our stride walking wise. Where I started off with trepidation and angst about finishing this and the challenges that would present themselves along the way, I now feel confident in what we’re doing, have accomplished and are going to accomplish by the end of this. That’s not to say the mountains won’t have any curveballs left to throw us, but I feel more equipped to handle them now. I think we can by now give ourselves the title of ‘expert walkers’.
The evening of our rest day, in order to avoid paying for another night at the campsite, we resolved to walk on a small way and wild camp. Finding ourselves bounding with unexpected optimism and energy (probably as a result of our first caffeine fix in a while) we ended up walking a lot further than planned and ended up completing half of the next planned day. We stopped by a cabin with 3 bunk beds and a loft area, filled with people who also intended to stay there. Among them an English couple about our age named Raphie and Will who we chattered away to into the night about art, travelling and other such nonsense.
The morning greeted us with another steep ascent. We took lunch by a well stocked refuge with an honesty box to pay by and bumped into Francis, the mum from the English family we’d met before who’d hitch hiked up there to wait for the others. The rest of the day was characterised by rain, fog and another steep climb. When we got to the col to camp, the rain was beating down so ferociously we had to cook inside Doug’s tent. It then continued to rain for the next 24 hours. We woke to rain, walked in the rain, sheltered in a cafe for a good 4 hours and then continued on in the rain.
We woke to indecisive weather which continued throughout the afternoon and was a marginal improvement on the constant downpour from the days before. Halfway through the day we stumbled across a bee and honey museum/shop with a lovely French man who laid out honey nougat and gingerbread for us to try alongside a free honey tasting. Of course, we did feel obliged to buy various honey-ed goods afterwards. The highlight of the day for Doug and Craig though was the hot young bin lady who waved to us from the bin lorry as they drove past. You can tell we’ve been in the mountains for a while.
Down in Vicdessos, our rest day, ahead of schedule again, we checked into a shockingly mediocre campsite with a regrettably under average boulangerie. Not to sound ungrateful, but the chocolatines really weren’t up to par. The town was fairly boring and sparse with a single shop and cafe so whilst Craig and I went off to play mini golf and bumped into the English family again, Doug had a mini adventure of his own, hitch hiking almost to Toulouse and back in search of a new pair of shoes to replace his now broken boots.
All in all another fast week, speeding through 6 days in 4 again to find ourselves itching to keep walking. The closer we get, the more we find ourselves wanting to carry on. I feel like the end of this adventure might leave me at a loss of what to do with myself when I get up in the morning, or maybe I’ll just be more than grateful for a lie in on a real mattress.