Remi: A Pyrenean Friend.
It’s always interesting on these types of adventures, meeting new people. You already find yourself in an unusual situation, removed from normal westernised city dwelling, and plonked up a cold mountain exhausted and preparing to sleep on a 1cm thick piece of foam in a storm. You would be forgiven for thinking it’s not the best environment for meeting new people. On the other hand, anyone you meet knows, at least to some extent, exactly what you’re going through. They may not have done the same trek as you to get here, they may be staying in hotels, or with their family, but they all have one thing in common with you; they are here and they are now. They’ve made a conscious and deliberate effort to get to the same geographic location as you (you’d be hard pushed to clumsily stroll to a peak in the middle of the Ariège).
Remi was possibly the closest person to our position that we’d met. At 21 he was close to our age, he was a student, walking the whole GR10 in roughly the same time frame as us (he started a few days after us and we finished on the same day), and he had a good appetite. We met Remi on our 31st day, and struck it off over a meal in the refuge we were camped next to with the harsh eyes of other dinners watching us guzzle the communal portions of food.
It turns out making friends is easy in the mountains. I think people head up there to strip back their lives and their shells and let their true selves bask in the sunlight (or rain) a while. So the Remi we met was the actual person, and it turns out people are amazing. Naturally we want to share his opinion, so a week after us returning to civilisation we received his summary of his own adventure. Here it is:
My name is Remi.
I am a 21-year-old French Canadian.
When I started this adventure, I didn’t really know what to expect. I left Canada on July 7th to travel to a small French town called Hendaye where the adventure would begin. That is where I realised I was all by myself – my first solo hike. Even though we all know we’re never really alone. There are always people to be met along the way. Actually, I can’t explain it exactly but when you’re traveling solo, people are more inclined to come and strike up a conversation with you and vice versa. It’s quite special.
My trip started on July 9th and for 35 days I wandered in the Pyrenees through its beautiful wildlife. Many things happened to me during this trek. Good and bad things. But, the most important thing I’ve brought home from this hike is without any doubt that you have to respect the mountain at all times. You’re such a tiny piece of flesh and bones compared to the vastness of the wild nature of the French Pyrenees Mountains. 900 kilometers of unknown wilderness.
Each morning it was the same routine. I packed up my tent and ate my breakfast, not really knowing how the day was going to pan out; although I could expect to see memorable landscapes, to meet new people, and to eat good food.
During these 35 days, I had a lot of time. Time to think. Time to put my life priorities in order in my head. Time to relax. Time to breathe. Time to admire the scenery. Time that we should, each and every one of us, take everyday in our stressful life. For me, this trek was amazing. I went through every state of mind. Even though I’ve been scared by the storms I went through, the GR10 was an awesome trail that needs to be done at least once in a lifetime. By me and by you.
As I said earlier, you meet a lot of people throughout this kind of hike and there is scarcely time to feel lonely or solitary. Amongst those I met, were Craig, Fiona and Doug, three young adventurers also trekking across the GR10. I was really happy to meet these three and to be honest, with approximately 10 days to go in my trek, meeting three people around my age was quite a surprise, especially when the majority of the people doing the trail are retired. I will remember them for sure. Just as I will remember every person I met on this trek. All the memories made walking the GR10 are so precious to me. For example, having a cup of coffee with a shepherd or eating local food after being caught in the pouring rain all day make up the highlights of my GR10. Simple things, but at the same time, they mean so much.