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Mr Bear is hungry

Fri 30 Jul 2010 18:40 » Jon

Yesterday morning began with an hour and a quarter climbing up a steep scree on the western face of Pic Carlit – the highest mountain in the Eastern Pyrenees at 2921m, and the last time the HRP goes that high. The descent wasn’t generally as steep, but there were sections where it required scrambling using hands, so I was impressed by the number of tourists heading up.

This slowly turned to dismay as I walked down to Barrage de Bouillouse (second photo, taken from the summit of Carlit) – it was one of the most beautiful areas I’ve seen on the whole trail, but as I neared the dam the number of people rose exponentially.

After the dam, the trail headed slowly down towards a collection of ski resorts. This meant there were few opportunities to bivouac, and I ended up staying in a lovely Gite d’Etape (a kind of hostel) in Superbolquère, called Les Ramiers. I sat next to a French family during a very tasty dinner, told them about the bear, and showed them the photos of the damage to my tent and rucksack. A short while later the five year old noticed me finishing off everything that was offered and said “Mr Bear is very hungry!”

While yesterday clouded over in the afternoon, today has been non-stop sunshine. From the gite I dropped down into the first wide, flat valley I’ve seen in ages, but soon began climbing back up from 1400m through the Vallée d’Eyne. I kept seeing signs reminding me it was a nature reserve, but the only remarkable thing about the valley that I noticed was the number of insect bites I picked up.

At the head of the valley the trail arrives on an impressive ridge, which seems to vary between 2400m and almost 2900m. I’ve already spent a couple of hours on it, and will be on it all of tomorrow. The third photo is from the Pic d’Eina (2786m), looking back the way I’ve come, with Pic Carlit near the centre.

Camping on the ridge didn’t seem like a great plan, so I’ve dropped down just over 100m to a little lake. Much like two nights ago at the foot of Carlit, there are mouflon running around all over the place, seemingly playing a game!

I washed some clothes in the lake earlier and, as usual, began looking forward to having a washing machine. As I was hanging the washing up though, it struck me that that could be the last load I do in the mountains. I’m several hours ahead of the book’s schedule at the moment, so may be able to finish within six days, which I could probably manage without anymore washing. Suddenly the fact that the trip is almost over has begun to register. I’m going to miss these mountains.

Unlike two nights ago, tonight I’m quite happy to be on my own. I’m sitting in the evening sun at 2600m, looking out over an amazing landscape, shared with only a few mouflon. Being able to just stop and pitch a tent wherever you like is a great feeling.


  1. You’re a mouflon!

    Comment by Chief Otter — July 31, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  2. Jon the introduction of the bears is a very highly sensitive issue sometimes its best to keep a low profile.

    Comment by Mark and Heather — July 31, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

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