Day Eight – Cirque de Gavarnie.

We both woke up feeling fresh, after our day of useful deeds. Today was the day Willow’s parents would be leaving us and making their way back to Dieppe for their ferry on Wednesday. Our plan was to stay in the Pyrenees region until Wednesday, that would give us three days to complete the twelve hour drive back up to Dieppe ourselves. We topped up our water tank and gave Ruby a quick clean, as she had started to collect most of France’s insect community.We then set off back towards our previous campsite, heading for the town of Gavernie.We parked up in a small car park next to a river and ate lunch, With Petit Astazou lurking behind us in 3000m in the clouds.You could tell from the early views that this would be spectacular. We followed the road out of the car park towards the mountains, in a line of tourists, all who were stopping the take a picture of Ruby from across the river.Fortunately, the crowds of tourists were taking the easy route down the road, right to the end of the valley. We would be veering off the road, up a steep climb which would give us better views of our surroundings.The ascent was pretty quick, and within an hour we had already climbed 400 metres. We were rewarded with some waterfalls for our struggles.Every five minutes, we had climbed just enough to get a slightly better view of the valley.Just over two kilometres, we reached a split in the trail. One path would lead us around the valley and eventually back to the road, and the other lead to the peak of Pico Cilindro, 3328 metres high. Not quite feeling in the mood to climb that high today, we took the trail leading down into the valley. I would be very tempted to one day do a hard climb up a very big mountain, but today would not be that day. We crossed a lovely river that was carving it’s way through the ice and the rocks.Not far around the path, we passed some other hikers resting at a chalet hidden in the woody trail.We then continued our descent down the trail, heading into the end of the valley, stopping occasionally for a few pictures.We eventually ended up back on the road, at the end of the valley.The mountains that overlooked us stood like giants, and made you realise just how small we actually are.Again, the pictures really don’t do it justice.In the summer, a fabulous waterfall runs down the cliff, unfortunately this was mainly frozen, and so we could just about make out a trail were it was. We headed back towards the main village, but not wanting to walk in a line back with everyone else, we took a different path that would bring us back on the other side of the river.This part of the walk gave us some variation. We got to cross rivers and walk through fields. It wasn’t long before we were almost back at Ruby. We stopped off for a cheeky beer at a small bar beside the river.And then we were finally back with Ruby.The walk took a total of 8.3 km, with an elevation of 451m.We then set off looking for a new base for the night. Willow had identified a dead end road which looked like it had a lot of potential. We drove past a couple of spots which looked like they might do they trick. We saw one we were very keen on and as luck would have it, when we tried to drive further only a couple of metres down the road, it was completely covered in snow. So we made the spot our home for the night.Someone had clearly stopped here before, as there were visible signs of fires. Now not normally being one for fires 😁 I decided I could do better, so got to work creating a fire pit, a bench and collected a little wood to burn.Unfortunately, we had one desperate problem that needed addressing. Our drink supply was running low and it was Easter Monday night. I set off back into the village, hoping to find a little village store that might still be open, however they were all shut. There were some bars open, and so €40 later we had two bottles to drink. Won’t be making that mistake ever again! Back at base, we got the fire started and relaxed with some wine and music.Our main course for the evening was baked camembert, which we gladly ate outside next to our toasty fire. This is what I dreamt camper life would be like. Chilled out high up in a mountain, with a fire, good food and music. I think today just set the bar for our American adventure! Tomorrow we would be heading slightly north, hoping to complete one more challenging walk before we make our way back towards Dieppe.

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