Had an early start as we knew it was going to be a long day. Headed off and saw the farmer and his dog herding the sheep. Carried on through a mixture of alpine farm lands and forest. Eventually had a quick drinkbstop at a shepherd's hut where much to our surprise another hiker appeared from behind. An English guy who we crossed paths with right up until lunchtime. When he disappeared out of sight. As we had our 2 hourly break further on we checked the route on the GPS (our 'au pair') as the English guy ahead seemed to be having some trouble locating where to go. Helen and I worked it out and were able to direct both the English guy and a french guy who also suddenly appeared, walking at a great rate of knots... with a very light backpack we noted!!
This was an unusual day as most days we have seen very few people. To talk to 2 new people so close together was incredible. We finished the main climb for the day and arrived at the borderline along the crest between France and Spain. We had been climbing for over 3 hrs at this point. We followed several of the border stones until we finally climbed away from them over a smaller pass where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Had a chat with the English guy (Nick) who was just finishing his lunch. And surprise surprise as we finished our lunch 4 more people arrived together. One was an Australian woman who we had previously heard was walking the whole GR10 for her 60th birthday. Various family members were joining her for different sections. We had a quick exchange and we left them for our long descent taking many hours! Parts of this were very steep and tough on the knees. We went through various terrain from meadows to woods to rocky areas. A long descent next to a stream was tricky. We crossed the stream (and collected some water) then went into a forest again for the final descent. Counted 58 switchbacks with long traverses. Took over an hour. It was tedious but counting them made it more fun. And the surface was good for walking. We got to the bottom and (but still in the forest), and the track started to climb again. We couldn't believe it. Helen thought it was a very poor joke!!! Finally we were traversing and descending to our destination. The trail took us along a canal at the bottom and we made our way in to Fos and our gîte. Certainly another long day. We were both happy to arrive and have a shower and collapse. The Australian woman (Margy) and group behind us arrived MUCH later and totally exhausted. It was the first day them and certainly a baptism of fire.
Time 9.5hrs. (Did it REALLY take that long???)
Elevation Gain for the day 1100m. Descent 1800m
High points Pic de Bacanère 2193m
Accommodation. Gîte d'Etape de Fos. An old mill over a stream and quite a quirky place. The owner was Jean-Pierre who was also quirky!
Bfast. Buckwheat crepes
Lunch. Usual picnic fare plus carrots and tomatoes
Dinner. Wine, salad and pâtés , sausages, rice, tomato and mushroom ratatouille , fruit salad
€48 including tomorrow's picnic
Overcast most of the day. Mid 20s
Being on the french Spanish border so high up.