After last night’s deluge I wake and spend the next couple of hours drying out the tarp and hammock. I debate the route, the easy road route or up over the col.

I opt for the col. The road route means walking backwards. I set off feeling surprisingly strong given the night, navigate the steep slopes and an hour or so later arrive at a junction with the road to meet Max and Aurora coming down the road. I feel doubly good as they are early twenties and have been flying past me each day. They are brother and sister. She has twisted his arm to join her for safety and company. The deal is she carries most of the weight and he has a day pack. They are from the Riviera just outside Cannes.

“How was the wild camping?” they ask. I recount the night shenanigans. And their night? Warm and dry in Iraty chalet. We’re all headed to Logibar and all agree it will be an easy day, only 14km 500m ascent, 1400m descent. Little do we know.

And mostly it is easy until the path disappears into thick brambles and deep muddy boot sucking cow patted paths. I spend a good hour navigating the mulch and feel a little better that max and aurora are somewhere cursing ahead, Boris and Philippe are trailing an hour or so behind me. The struggle is shared.

The easy part starts, all downhill, but this fast turns into torture. The French seem to have no idea what a switchback is. I think they are designing the path for winter black ski runs. Every step becomes a killer.

A very fit Norwegian climbs up the path towards me. He is exhausted and tells me the next two days are “tres difficile”. Great. He asks about water, I point 2km behind me. He says Logibar is just down there. Another 2km, but it’s a slow rock strewn steep climb down. By the time I at bottom it is closer to 7pm and joy of joys the Auberge Logibar is closed. I find out later from Max and Aurora who were also supposed to stay there, that the guy had simply changed his mind and had other things to do that night.

There is no-one in sight except an elderly couple. I immediately put on my most desperate helpless but friendly demeanor recognising them as my only chance to find accommodation. My zero french their zero English, they call another local hotel. A long conversation ensues… I vaguely understand there to be a problem as the hotel has no food (the French cannot seem to understand food is the least important part of the equation). The hotelier gives them directions to another hotel, I have no idea where but they direct me to their car. We drive forever, I don’t care they could take me to Paris so long as there is a bed at the end. I am now another days walk off the GR10 but I’ll worry about that tomorrow. They drop me off on Licq, I thank them profusely not least for stinking out their car.