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The End of the Road

Fri 06 Aug 2010 06:21 » Jon

Despite the best efforts of the storms, the snow, a bear and all those ridiculous mountains someone put in the way, I arrived back at sea-level yesterday at 16:20, just over 7 weeks after leaving Hendaye. The journey (which was roughly 800km with 40,000m of climbing) took 50 days, 20 hours and 50 minutes in total, including 6 rest days.

In keeping with the theme of the trip, the weather threw one last curve-ball, and I spent the morning in gloves and a wooly hat. Despite being only hours from the Mediteranean, the bitterly cold northerly wind made it feel like winter. I set off in sun feeling reasonably warm but soon arrived in cloud, and after an hour or two my hands were so numb I was having trouble turning on the GPS! I was also regularly blown off the path, sometimes by three or four steps, so it wasn’t quite the easy stroll to the sea I’d hoped for!

It was fantastic to see the sea getting closer though, and during the afternoon I slowly dropped from 1000m down towards Banyuls, with the temperature gradually increasing as I went. The wind wasn’t quite so violent lower down, but was still pretty strong even down in the village.

Klaas and I had discussed what it would be like reaching the beach and we’d both got quite emotional just thinking about it, but I think spending the last nine days on my own gave me time to prepare, and the emotions weren’t nearly as strong as I’d expected. When I finally walked across the stoney beach, picking my way through the sun-bathers, my main feeling was “these guys must think I’m a little strange, standing in the sea in my boots…”

The beach itself was very crowded, so I retired to the promenade and sat for a while, made a few phone calls and considered things. The guidebook warns that it will take weeks to let the achievenment sink in and work out how you feel – right now that seems pretty accurate.

I had the obligatory Coke and Magnum in honour of the Dutchman, inspected the artwork on the Hotel de Ville commemorating the end of the GR10, then waited for my friend Al to arrive.

13 Comments »

  1. Well done! Must be wierd finishing after so long, you’ll never be the same again! When you say you were waiting to meet Al, do you mean The Fish?!?

    Comment by Chief Otter — August 6, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  2. Fine work Mr S! Looks like there’s a little refuge out to sea there, didn’t you fancy pitching the tent there for the night then? With what you’ve got lined up for the next few weeks, are you sure the achievement will have time to sink in?

    Comment by Spanner — August 6, 2010 @ 8:17 am

  3. Thanks Mr. S. Had enough of camping for the moment I think – was nice to have a real bed last night!

    I’m sure it’ll sink in sooner or later…

    Comment by Jon — August 6, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  4. Well done!! It’s been great following your progress on your epic journey. Are you going to start on planning another challenge?
    Regards IanD.

    Comment by Ian Douglas — August 6, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  5. Good work Sedge. I can’t imagine how it must feel but all I can say is LARGE!!! Look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

    Comment by Royceston — August 6, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  6. Si – missed your comment earlier – yes, I mean your boss! Have just spent a lovely relaxing day on the beach with him & family.

    Wills – thanks old boy! See you on Sun.

    Ian – glad you’ve enjoyed it. I’ve got a few more ideas…

    Comment by Jon — August 6, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  7. Sauce! Fantistico! Well done you! It seems mad to think you’ve walked all that way whilst the rest of us have just been working away as per normal. But hope you are now relaxing – think you definitely owe yourself a good wine and cheese evening. Catch up soon,
    H xx

    Comment by H — August 6, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

  8. Woohoo!!! Congratulations!! What you’ve done is amazing! What’s next?? Big hugs to you Saycey! xx

    Comment by Steve and Saara — August 6, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

  9. Well done.

    Comment by Mark and Heather — August 7, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  10. Great work!

    My Dad ( Klaas ) arrived there just over 2 hours ago.

    Comment by Marijn — August 9, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  11. Hi – Tackling and completing the HRP in June/July in a year of abnormally heavy snowfall is a fantastic achievement. Congratulations. I walked it solo like you last year, well most of it, but left on 4 August and so had very few snowfields to deal with, and didn’t need crampons or an ice axe except very occasionally eg at Literole Inferieur. I just had more cold in September, and several early mornings below 0 degrees. Your wet weather seemed to have been more frequent too. So, I reckon your trip was much more demanding than mine.

    I’ve also really enjoyed the diary of your journey, both witty and informative. Settling down in the evening after each day to write was one of the pleasures of the trip. And writing it up afterwards was a way of reliving the journey.

    I couldn’t get down the Mulleres col, so had to backtrack and walk along the GR11 to Viehla, and that meant I had to skip a few days as I had a hotel booked in Andorra with my partner. So, I going back this Friday to walk E to W for two weeks and take in a bit more of Aigues Tortes area.

    Best wishes

    Comment by Rob — August 22, 2010 @ 8:47 am

  12. Well done Saucissson!! One of your dreams came true :-) Good luck with the rest. Alllllllllllllll the people who know you are proud of you ;-)

    Comment by Barrrrrkkkkk — August 25, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  13. Hi,
    Really enjoyed your HRP blog. (actually I really really enjoyed it). I’m planning the walk myself hopefully this year. I’ve been looking at a few HRP accounts on the web. Yours is a bit different, it is the only one I know of that had bear problems for instance. What weight did you actually carry? Most of the HRP bloggers seem to be lightweight enthusiasts and seem to wear trail shoes rather than boots. You wore boots and seem to have used your crampons quite a lot.Have you any thoughts about doing it without either boots or crampons. Were those people just lucky with the conditions?

    Your gps trail with waypoints is useful, any chance of that being produced as a gpx file?
    The descent from Col du Mulleres seems to be the scariest bit. Is it any worse than Striding Edge or Crib Goch?

    What are you up to now, back in the world of work?

    Thanks

    Roger

    Comment by Roger O'Doherty — February 3, 2012 @ 10:30 am

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