Day 14: Middle of nowhere

Vielle Aure – Cabane d’Ourtiga (1600m)

Distance: 20km

Elevation: 1565m

Fuel: Muffins and yoghurt for brekkie, pain au chocolat, cafe au lait, baguette with the best sausage ever, mars bar.

Gear fail: The tent leaked!! So much for waterproofing….

We’re camping in the middle of nowhere. Okay, maybe not the middle of nowhere. We’re in the high Pyrenees, between a little village unfortunately named Germ, and Lac d’Oo. 

We planned to hike all the way to the lake, but when we came across this spot we couldn’t pass by. How many times do you get to pitch a tent surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, with only cows for company? The mist was rolling in. The temperature was dropping. We snuggled down into our sleeping bags and just lay on the grass reading (me) and napping (Mat). 

These are the moments I absolutely love on the trail. These moments where there is nowhere we have to be, nothing we need to be doing, nobody to answer to. It sounds kinda corny but it’s the reason we do this: to get some space. And after a tough first half of the year, where we’ve been stuck in our heads and struggling to make sense of things, we really need this space. I don’t think I really appreciated how much we needed it until now. 

Our morning run was pretty and drama-free. We climbed through perfect mountain villages, listening to the church bells as we ran over the hill to the quiet town of Loudenvielle, paragliders soaring above. This place will be buzzing in just a week or two when the Tour de France speeds through. But for now, it was still a sleepy place and the perfect spot for our morning coffee. From there, we stetched our legs up to Germ and bypassed the gites, diverting our eyes from their tempting ice-cream ads, to join a narrow trail through meadows. 

It was only an hour later that we reached the hikers’ hut, a small stone building with a wooden table, fireplace and two half-eaten boxes of couscous. Enveloped by high mountain walls and cascades, we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave. It might have been the thought of the 500m climb over the pass, but mostly it was because this place cast a spell over us. We wanted to spend the afternoon here. We didn’t want to rush by as we have so many other places.  I think it’s easy to forget sometimes, in our personal challenge to run the GR10, that we have the freedom to stop where we want, when we want. So, that’s what we did. 

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