Sunday 2 August 2015
I had a highly satisfactory night at the Hostal Mirabelle. It was friendly & welcoming, the food was really extremely good - €14 for three courses, with three or four choices for each course, and Vin compris. The breakfast was also top class. I had a room with shower to myself, though it did have four beds in it. Any time you are near Venasque, I highly recommend it. My Spanish friend Elisa helped me check in, and the lady in charge had a little bit of English. She very kindly produced an English translation of the menu for me, so of course I chose the creamy cauliflower (which turned out to be a lovely soup), the cordon blue chicken biscuits (chicken breasts in breadcrumbs, silly) and curd with rosemary and honey (not sure what that was, but tasted great).
So I was in a good mood as I set off this morning, and looking forward to a relaxing day as I had completed about three hours of today's leg already. The day was not quite as relaxing as it should have been as the entire route was uphill. To start with, no problemo but as I got higher I started to feel a bit sluggish. My legs were fine, but my lungs, hitherto so improved, seemed to be labouring a bit. I ploughed on, and reached the stage destination, a plateau at about 2,200m, about 2pm. After a sit, a rest and some food I felt better and decided to carry on a bit further. Tomorrow's stage is a long one and it would be good to get a bit of it out of the way today.
So now I am in my tent, at a wonderful spot above the upper of the lagos de Vallebierna. The altitude here is over 2,500m so I have climbed about 1,300m in the day, the last 200 of which was scrambling (carefully!) over boulders. So a little tiredness is understandable. I have made some good inroads into tomorrow's walk to the hospital de Vielha and I am camped in a truly idyllic spot. From my tent I can see two marmots sitting on a rock about 30m away, I only noticed them because they made their distinctive whistling warning call, so loud that I jumped a foot in the air. This is the sort of place that izard or moufflon may come to to drink. I forgot to say yesterday that I saw a moufflon. A small, sandy coloured antelope. I am not sure, but I think pyrenean moufflon were hunted to extinction, and these have been reintroduced from corsica or somewhere. You will have to google it.
Also, today I met my Dutch friend Dyse (if that's how it's spelt) who I last saw in Candanchu. Funny how these things happen. I thought he might camp here too, but no.