Yesterdays water problems carried over into today and after breakfast we were again empty with a four hour walk until the next water source. This failed to dull a spectacular hike.
After packing up we rose up through wet forest with salamanders enjoying the moisture. Sometimes in pairs. Eventually we broke out of the forest and into the most incredible valley.
Granite walls rose up with huge boulders strewn everywhere dotted with pine trees. The path made it’s way between the boulders across fields of flowers and wild fennel. Every step you made would crush a little fennel making it a full sensory experience. Really, it was like a fantasy book.
If it had a fault it was that it seemed to go on forever until we finally came to the source of a river and could drink and eat.
Feeling a lot better we started our descent. At first this took us into the cloud boiling up from below and we followed a mix of cairns and GPS.
At one point we went to pass through a flock of sheep and were stopped by a large barking dog. They have the most incredible sheep dogs here. Roughly the size of a sheep, colour of the sheep and they live with the flock to protect them.
Soon after that was a shepherds cottage where we were pointed in the right direction and I was reminded that the All Blacks are synonymous with New Zealand in the Basque country.
There appeared to be no other access to that cottage except by the steep route we took down a granite cliff by a waterfall. A point that really came home when the shepherdess came walking up carrying a giant loaf of bread.
At the bottom it was only a couple of kilometers along a road until we came to the town of Lescun.
Lescun is a rather pretty town but it has a couple of flaws. One is the horse flies that bite rather painfully. Another is the normal flies that have reached that point where everybody seems used to them. In the shop I was thinking of buying some cheese but there were ten flies crawling all over the cut face. I decided not to.
Thirdly, and possibly more importantly in our situation, was the lack of lodgings. The gites were full, the bars were full and we were only saved by a cook who gave us a room in a neighbor’s house for €60…..actually, she pretty much rented the entire house to us. We did washing, showers, it was great and enormously lucky.
To thank her we went and had dinner at the gite where she cooks. I like her food as well.
Another woman was rescued that night as well and ended up staying with us. Rosanne is Dutch and was doing a mix match of the HPR as well so we had a lot to talk about but all of us were in bed by ten. A late night for hikers.