Day 6: Hitting the highs

Ste-Engrace – Plateau de Lhers via the charming village of Lescun

Distance: 34km 

Elevation: 1540m

Gear fails: Nicki’s Teva sandals are finally done. They might just last til Banyuls if I only wear them around the tent. 

Fuel: Ham and tomato sandwich (leftover from yesterday – they were massive!), snickers, 2 x cafe au lait, 2 x lemonade, apple juice, ham and cheese sandwich (mat ate the cheese), peanut butter on baguette, 1 x beer, 1 x orange juice.

Sitting on top of the world, we’re eating a snickers. I think this just might be paradise. The day started with a long climb through a shady forest and all we could think about was the Goat Track back home. After as few wrong turns through grassy paddocks where we contemplated asking the pregnant horse for directions, we were heading into Arette-la-Pierre-St-Martin. 

This was described as a tiny ski village, but I reckon my book is seriously out of date because there were high-rise holiday apartments emerging from the mountain. We were 1650m high, and could see the icy remnants of the last ski season. Because it’s summer, nothing was open except the hikers’ refuge, where we enjoyed a quick cafe au lait and lemonade. I’m not sure how the two complement each other, but it got us up the next climb!

We didn’t want the next section to end. After 6 days, we had finally arrived in the mountains – snow and all! We savoured every second of the run up to Pas de L’Osque at 1922m and the highest point on the trail so far. Pictures just don’t do this justice. So, we stopped and enjoyed a snickers as we soaked it all in. I think the magnitude of the challenge hit me at this moment. This was the first of many long, steep days, where we would run over passes and back down into the towns, before doing the same thing all over again the next day. But it was spectatcular, and that meant that nothing really hurt. Not our shoulders (which had been giving us a bit of grief), not our little blistered toes, nor our legs. The mountains somehow gave us energy – yeah, yeah, I know it sounds a bit corny, but it’s true. 

We dropped down quickly after that and it wasn’t long before we were in the most beautiful village of the Pyrenees (apparently). Unlike most villages, where the houses are spread far and wide, this village packs them all together in a giant grey stone lego set. We immediately ransacked the epicerie (grocery store) for everything they had – sausages, bread, apples, salted peanuts, mars bars and apple juice (which we immediately guzzled). Then, took an hour to enjoy sitting – a rare treat!

It was only a few more kilometres to our destination: Plateau de Lhers. This tiny campsite was set in the middle of the valley, surrounded by dinging cows and mountain streams. The only thing that could make it better, for Mat at least, was a beer. And here again, he struck lucky. 

Tomorrow, we hit more highs as we head into the Chemin de la Mature. Wish us luck! 

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