Day Four – Lost up a snowy mountain.

This is something I never would have imaged I would say. I love ear plugs! For the second night in a row I had an peaceful, undisturbed night of rest. No pesky owls. No loud rivers. Just silence. I once again slept like a baby. For this trip we brought the bikes along with us, and so that morning I decided to take the bike for a ride and cycle into the local village to buy some fresh croissants for breakfast. Google maps suggested the local bakery was only a couple of minutes away by bike, which was good because when I got there they didn’t take card payments so I had to cycle back to the van to get some cash. Twenty minutes later, we were sat outside eating croissants and drinking tea in fairly warm sunlight. Heaven.The easy walk had us itching to tackle something a bit more challenging, although all of the local walks round us were described as hard. As it would only be me Willow walking today, we laughed this off and chose one anyway. The pictures on the app looked amazing. So we said goodbye to Willow’s parents for the day and headed off thirty minutes down the road, passing many people who joyfully waved at Ruby as we thundered through the main village. The last part of the journey took us down a gorgeous road through the valley.We parked up right at the bottom of the mountain on the side of the road. It was at this moment that the dark clouds above us decided to pour a torrential amount of water down. Me being dressed in shorts and a t-shirt for once decided that it would be best to dress more sensibly for a hard scramble up a mountain. The peak we were aiming to reach was named Pic d’Er, and the walk was roughly 8.5km with an elevation of 1259 metres. No problem we thought, we would be done in no time. Within the first five minutes of the walk though, my legs and lungs were both rather displeased with the steep incline. This is where people with common sense would have stopped and turned around. Not us, we pushed through and carried on our ascent up the path, getting more and more soaked by the second.The first stage of the walk was through woodland, and took us over a small waterfall. Considering we haven’t done much hiking since the summer visit, it was not really surprising that we had to stop every five minutes for me to catch my breath. After about an hour we stopped and had lunch, in the hope that a tuna baguette would give me the much needed energy to drag myself the beastly mountain side.The break and food did seem to do the job, and we continued the climb with a new found enthusiasm and were rewarded not long after by a scenic plateau offering our first glimpse of the surrounding giants.At this point, the rain had also stopped and the sun was starting to fight its way out from behind the clouds. This was very convenient as we were both drowned rats by this stage.The walk then continued through more woodland. At this point we were using a combination of the walking app GPS feature and way markers. This was fine for about half an hour until we had climbed up into the part of the mountain which was still heavily covered in snow. This now started to cause us some issues as the app would no longer update our position and it was becoming incredibly difficult to spot the markers. We also were left with no option but to battle through the snow and guess a direction.Things took a turn for the worse very quickly at this point as we very quickly became lost and were frequently having to pull ourselves out of the snow which at times reached my crown jewels. After admirably forcing forward for another twenty minutes, we finally both reached the conclusion that we were lost, tired and a mixture of very cold and very wet, and so turned around and tried to head back. This turned out to also be tricky as we lost our footprints and ended up on the edge of a cliff face. I did try and channel my inner Sty Stallone from cliffhanger, but after realising I am not a very confident cliff climber, we made the second sensible decision of the day and decided to retrace our steps. We did eventually find our previous footprints alongside this massive animal print, which neither of us knew what made made it. It was huge. The rest of the climb down seemed like hours, although I imagine it was more like forty five minutes. We were both very relieved to see the road and Ruby sat waiting for us.After a quick change of clothes, we set off to find the local supermarket to get more supplies and to do a clothes wash as their was an automated launderette in the car park. With a fresh stock of cheese and wine, we set off to scout for a new place to stop for the night. Along the way we met a local resident taking his sheep for a casual stroll down the road as you do.We found a lovely spot, hidden up in the mountains and quickly went about making base for the night.That evening, we were treated by another beautifully haunting night’s sky.Tired, aching and unsure whether to be happy with our achievements with the days walk, we settled down for the night, determined to find a more successful walk in the morning. It was so peaceful in the spot that I was even willingly to give the ear plugs a rest for the night.Still at least Ruby is behaving.

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