Day four – Pic d’Er

Today was the first proper walking day, so we fancied a good long walk, especially after sitting in a van for so long the last few days.

The only problem appears to be that as this is a mountainous region, most of the walks are rated as ‘hard’. Having not really done any exercise since August, this sounded perfect so we headed off through the village of Laruns and up a twisting mountain road alongside a river. It was a lovely drive and Ruby did an amazing job of climbing up through the foothills.

We parked up by the road and found the path which headed straight up the side of the mountain opposite.

We stepped up onto the path, at which point it started to rain enthusiastically. Still, the mountain whether is changeable so we pressed on. For the next hour we climbed very steeply on a woodland path up the mountain. This is probably the flattest part of the walk, near the beginning.

In around an hour we came out of the trees into a clearing with a view to the mountains around, it stopped raining and the sun appeared to be making some effort.

We were now well past the snow line, and slightly hesitantly wondered whether the path was about to climb again, this time through a massive snow drift. Fortunately it turned to skirt around the base of the peak and we headed into the trees again.

The hills are beginning to come alive with spring flowers, which are rather pretty.

I also spotted what i think is a very tiny wild strawberry!

Continuing on the way marks are not particularly frequent and there are occasional snow drifts across the path that make it hard to follow at points. Still we kept going with a nice view down the valley appearing on our right.

As we rounded the side of the mountain into the next valley, the snow was much thicker. We got to a point where we couldn’t find any way marks and suspected that they may well be under the snow. At points we walked through and fell into drifts around 3ft deep.

At this point we decided to turn back. We couldn’t find the path for one thing, and walking over melting snow drifts with no idea of what is underneath is not a clever plan. The only good thing is that it was easy to retrace our steps in the snow.

This was going well until the snow stopped, at which point we couldn’t find the path again and we ended up nearly detouring over a nearby cliff. Eventually we backtracked, picked the path up and headed back down the way we had come.

Back in the clearing the weather had definitely improved.

All in all, still a good walk and the weather has cleared up nicely to give us some better views.

We then started our descent back down through the steep woodland path, taking around an hour to get back to the van.

We headed back towards the campsite after stopping to do some washing and shopping en route. As we approached however, we saw several more vans turning into our camping spot. Being the anti social people that we are, we immediately turned and headed for a new place up in the mountains.

We found a nice mountain plateau and phoned my parents to come and join us. Turns out they were there earlier and recommended and even nice spot further along the road where we parked up for the night.

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