Wednesday 29 July 2015
Today I was intending to walk as far as the refuge de Barroude, nestling next to the scenic lakes and underneath the vast Barroude Wall. However I had some shocking news at dinner last night. The refuge has burnt to the ground! My informant, a pleasant 70 year old french walker called Jean-Yves said there was a water supply still but nothing else. I decided not to alter my plans, since I would have slept in my tent anyway. I would have to cook, that's all, I have some food.
So I set off about 8.15am for the first big climb, 1,150m up from Heas to the hourquette de Heas at 2608m, the longest single climb so far and quite tricky near the top on both sides of the col. It wouldn't be right to say I flew up it, but I got there. I found the descent the far side most difficult, hard to keep a secure footing on what amounted to loose, sloping gravel. The new poles helped, but I was glad when it leveled out a bit lower down.
Then a contouring walk around the side of several mountains, to reach the Barroude. As I went along the clouds rose until visibility disappeared completely. When I reached the sad and unexpectedly, rather moving remains of the refuge, nothing could be seen of the lake or the Wall; nor was the good water source available that I'd been promised. . It did not feel like a suitable place to spend the night, so I kept walking.
On my previous, three - week trip in 2011, this is as far as I'd got before I had to go home. So now I was walking into completely unknown territory, further along the hrp than ever before. With zero visibility and an abandoned, wrecked hut it was not how I'd imagined it would be!
After Barroude there is a climb to the Port de Barroude, a desolate stony plateau. Following the path was hard in the cloud and might have been dangerous without the blessed phone gps, that shows you exactly where you are, and where the path is. This path wound down in endless zigzags to the Valle de Barrosa. I had thought I might camp here, since it is a long road walk to Parzan and I wasn't keen to arrive in a village with no accommodation in late evening - it was almost 8pm already. Gradually it dawned on me that this was a completely dry valley. .. High up on the mountainside streams were visible, but none made it into the valley and the Rio Barrosa was as dry as a bone. Odd. You do need water for a proper camp so I kept walking along the valley. All of a sudden, the river appeared! From out of the ground! Ice cold, and as clear as a bell, an authentic spring. I took this as a sign, and put the tent up straight away. Perhaps the rest of the hrp wouldn't be too bad after all.