Thursday 6 August 2015
I've read that day 30 is supposed to be a low point on a long distance walk, the time when people start wondering if it's really worth it and are prone to giving up. It's not a problem for me, because I think that of all the five sections, the next one is likely to prove the biggest challenge. I also feel that once I've finished it, I shall be on the home straight. We shall see! The final section should not be dismissed, including as it does the iconic Mount Canigou (2784m) as well as an (optional) climb to the top of Pic Carlit (2921m), the highest point in the eastern pyrenees. Poco a poco, as they say, little by little, one thing at a time. Today I must carefully plot the route for this leg.
Salardu was once a pleasant, tiny village. It had one shop, a small supermercado, and a plaza major with three or four bars and restaurants, with narrow streets and alleys leading off it. Now, it is overlooked by modern skiing-related high-rise apartment blocks and hotels, all currently shut up. Few things look worse than a ski resort out of season. Fortunately, the nice little village is still there, if you look for it.
Having some time to spare, I was greatly daring and caught a bus down the valley to the local metropolis, Vielha. It is a fair size town, with a long high street and (today, anyhow) a bustling market. It had a supermercado grande, where I bought food - soup, biscuits, nuts, chocolate - to supplement my supplies for the next week or so. I also bought a small tub of dubbin, to give my boots a treat which after 30 days walking, is somewhat overdue perhaps. But goretex-lined boots should not be treated very often. The more supple the leather, the more stress on the goretex lining.
Thought for the day: have you ever emptied a bag onto a candlewick bedspread, that turns out to have rather a lot of biscuit crumbs in it, and then discovered just how hard it is to brush them all off again onto the floor?
I had dinner at "Eth Bot," which proclaims itself to be a Boteria Araneso, we being in the Aran valley. It is brim full of character, and the food is great, for not much money. Recommended. This would be a lovely area to tour around in a car.
Updates may be a bit sporadic over the next week or so, as we approach Andorra