Friday 7 August 2015
Back on the trail, and a long day in prospect today. The guide says 7 1/2 hrs, which means at least 10 for me allowing for stops etc. However tomorrow's stage is much shorter.
I set off about 8.30am and started to climb. Salardu is at about 1250m and I am now at 2500m, so I have gone up 1250m during the day with some flatter bits but almost no down at all. And it has been very hot indeed, which has made me a bit sluggish. I also bought food in vielha which together with the extra water has made my pack feel rather heavy. So no speed records have been set today!
The route first takes you up the Aran valley to a beautiful old village called Bagergue. Apparently it is where the Spanish royal family stay when they come here to ski. Beyond that, at the head of the valley is the ski station itself, and the less said about that the better. After that however there is a pleasant walk up to a reservoir, and beyond that you pass a series of lakes or "estanys," which are extremely picturesque. Despite all the water around, finding drinking water was problematic. There are a lot of cows and horses hereabouts, which means all stream and lake water must be treated. I did stop and filter and treat some water from a tiny stream above the lake, trying to ignore the piles of dung everywhere around.
After passing the top lake, the route carries on straight up the mountainside. Grass at first, then rock and scree and very steep. I was just starting to plough up the rocks, when I found a source, a spring. They are easy to tell because the water is clear and icy cold. You fill a bottle and condensation forms immediately. And it tastes fantastic. So I emptied away all the water I had painstakingly filtered and treated, and rinsed and refilled all my bottles. Then I set off again, but after 100m or so I thought "Hang on, that was a Sign, wasn't it?" It was about 5pm by now, so I stopped and put my tent up there and then.
I even managed to find the source again, after a bit of casting about, and I am now sitting in my tent gazing at the truly spectacular view and listening to bonging noises coming from the horses all around. Supper was packet soup with added rice (and a stock cube for good measure) and some baguette.
Ever since Parzan, I have been travelling through gorgeous country. It has been a delight, especially with the good weather. However thunderstorms and rain are chforecast for tomorrow, but we shall see. If it's raining when I am ready to leave I shall wait it out, but I don't really want to sit in a tent all day.