Thursday, 12 July 2007

Update from la Guinguetta d´Aneu

This camp-site has a PC in reception with Internet!

Since my last post I have had 2 rather difficult days suffering from, in polite terms a tummy upset. So far I have sterilised any water not from a tap, or formal Fuente (fountain) but foolishly took a change with one which at the time I did not feel was right. The bug really sapped my strength and I found some climbs dizzy with exhaustion. Having to make emergency stops on the path was awkward too...

Anyway what does not kill us makes us stronger and I kept to schedule, so when I felt better I decided to do 2 shortish days in one to generate a rest day in Espot. This I did when the weather was wet through the national park Aigustotes Estany de San Maurici, which is a lovely park with hundreds of little lakes like Japanese water gardens, snowy peaks (the name translates to the Enchanted Mountains), high waterfalls and pine forests and in some ways similar to the Lakes District in UK. But when I got to the Refuge Colomers it was full of with a happy group of people who looked as though they had parked in the valley below and climbed up for the night. The Guardian looked at me, and despite my pleading pitiful face said curtly ´Completo´, so I pitched my tent nearby next to a young English couple who had had the same experience. That night, being in a valley 2,200m up it froze to -1 inside the tent which was a bit chilly. I even boiled up a cup of tea inside the tent porch at 4:30 am to warm up. The next day was beautifully clear though with a deep frost, which made the area more pretty. If you get a chance to visit this national park do so; the rural houses are good value, with well friendly hosts and well equiped kitchens. The local restaraunts do especially good food with wine inclusive (OK you have to take the smooth with the rough).

After departing I soon met a US chap from New York called Stephen who questioned me on my gear, then promptly told me I had all the wrong equipment, and his was much better. He then asked about my route, and then told me that the GR11 was in fact a poor route and he had designed his own much better one having been all over the world. I got away as quickly as I could. He had a point though as my solar charger for then gave up working and is now in a bin.

ve had a nice rest day now in Espot and stayed in Casa Colom with a newly married couple from Utah and a friendly Dutch couple who gave me food. However I also met a group of Germans earlier in the week at a Refuge where the pushed in front of me at check in. They all looked like Henchmen for some Bond Villain. Just as I was checking in one returned to me to apologise telling me that of the 3 double beds available they have saved me a space in between the 2 biggest of them. When I got to the dorm there where dozens of single beds available and they turned to me an laughed saying ´See, we Germans do have a sense of humour, ho ho ho´.

A cautionary tale: I was having lunch at the foot of the Ordesa valley and spread out my wet tent to dry. The tourists just walked past me surrounded as I was by steaming nylon. 2 hours and 700m further up, I set up my tent, but could find no tent pegs. Imagining some elderly French tourist had picked them up from the valley and was using my UL Titanium pegs as darning needles, I legged it back down into the valley but they where not at the spot where I had lunch. I returned to the tent dejected and put up my tents with rocks 3 hours later. Inside my wobbly tent I unpacked my clothing back and found the tent pegs...

In summary I am still on Schedule, and 2 days past half way. Tomorrow has the hardest day of the trek with 1500m of ascent and I still have Andorra and the largest peak of the climb still to come around day 37. Thanks for the comments; I like to think that somebody at least is reading this!


jabe said...

Hi Barrie, sounds like you are doing your bit for international relations. Even the fact that you are trekking and not sat by the pool at costa del sol, your britishness comes shining through (cups of tea, 'tummy upset' from the local H20, politely tolerating the americans/germans, and finally, arriving with all sorts of brand new kit which is promptly disposed of!). keep posting and best of british !

Mark W said...


I am sure I can speak for a lot of us back in blighty who are enjoying reading your blog. Keep up the good work and keep the wit.

I reckon you could go into print on your return and make a fortune.
Cheers for now.
Mark W

Felix said...

Hello Barrie! It's Sat.,8/18, and I'm enjoying your blog immensely. Some of the pix make me want to follow in your footsteps, but the great variances in temperature and some of the missteps, do give me pause. Enjoyed meeting you in Barcelona, best of luck, Felix