Weather forecast is for rain and it is a continuous steep 1400m up to Refuge Jeandel.
My pack is starting to feel like it is a part of me, not so much a weight on my back, more me becoming hunchback Notre Dame.
I leave Engrace saying goodbye to Jean-Philippe and Fogo, they are heading in the other direction. I set off into the first part of the walk which is deep in the Ravin d’Arpedia then up steeply through the ravine walls forest.
The trick when walking is to walk fast enough to get you setting a decent pace, but not so fast it makes you sweat. The weather here means it is always cold this high up when out of the sun. Getting sweaty just makes you colder and is best avoided.
A couple of hours in I come across this fella.. spot the troll. He is the least smelly one.
Rest of the day goes pretty easy. There are a fair number of other walkers going on the opposite direction. One very fast, barely dressed Frenchman whizzes past me. I keep ahead of Boris and Philippe.. competitive for no good reason trying to stay ahead, checking my back trail at each turn and summit. It keeps the pace up.
Finally the Col de la Pierre-St-Martin and I’m on the border with Spain. I stick a foot in but find it no warmer than France. The wind is biting and it’s hat on, scarf on, hood up. Trudge on.
The scenary changes, moving into the Pyrenees Atlantique and out of Basque country.
I arrive in Refuge Jeandel which is part of a ski resort. But it’s closed season and dead. I am less than impressed with the shower which just spits at me every thirty seconds. The refuge is run by a young couple not yet interested in cooking good food. All in all blurrghhh.