Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Carros de Foc day 4, to J.M. Blanc, 7/18/09

A harder than expected day of hiking – we took the wrong way up a pass. Oops.

Didn’t sleep very well, however; there was a big storm in the night and we woke up to a dusting of snow. Yikes.

The morning was gorgeous but very, very cold. And we were very glad we had packed our down jackets! We bundled up and set out around the lake from the refuge.

Then up up up to the next lake ...

... and then we went astray, somehow. We followed some cairns into a boulder field and managed to miss a springy turfy switchback path.

We got held up in the boulders for quite some time – only towards the end seeing the lovely path below us. A nice young group passed us and showed us where we could go straight down to the path. Afterwards we chatted with them for a while, and then continued up to the pass. At the top we saw the Spanish ladies, and rested a little. Then down the other side, on a clear path (though Very Steep).

The Spanish ladies were ahead of us and kindly stopped to point out that they were going to summit a peak and not to follow them. :)

Then over hill and over dale, past some lovely lakes, came down to the “crossroads”, which had the route to Blanc clearly marked (you know how I feel about good signage). The nice young group were resting by the crossroads and joked that they had waited to make sure we didn’t go the wrong way. They said they were going to Mallafre (which we’ll pass tomorrow), but that Blanc was the most beautiful of the hostels.

So we set off on the little path and stopped by a pond for lunch. While there we saw a guy from Colomina who had been to Blanc and was headed for Mallafre for the night.

We had cheese sandwiches every day, but they were goooood.

After lunch we continued and eventually met up with the noisy group of 8. They were nicer – I think they’d seen some real hiking – and they weren’t that far ahead of us despite their leader’s insistence that they hurry along. The blonde lady who had been so scared crossing the dam and who looked scared about the “day 2 pass” smiled at us and asked how we were feeling. We said “Great!” and asked how she was. She said “Tired… but I think we are halfway there.” We told her she was doing great and didn’t point out that she still had to cross the second-highest pass of the circuit that afternoon as their schedule had them sleeping at Mallafre as well. Poor dear. They said Blanc wasn’t far – but then others contradicted them and said it was.

In a way, they were both right. Not long after leaving them, we spotted the refuge far below. Glorious!

However, there was a hairy scary descent down to the lake that lasted an absurdly long tome before we got remotely close. Then across a beautiful dam and we were sure we had arrived.

But, no, we had to go up and over one last hill, and then back down to the refuge. Still, glorious to arrive here.

Now we’re sitting out in the sun relaxing and I’m trying to get my knees unswollen by massaging them. My right knee especially is painful – I can no longer completely straighten it, nor can I bend it past 90 degrees. Awesome! However, I have discovered a miraculous Spanish medicine – powdered ibuprofen that you add to water and drink. It’s flavoured peppermint and isn’t half bad. And it seems to cure headaches in minutes. Will pick up a box when we get back to Vielha.

J.M. Blanc is gorgeous, and clearly a day-tripper kind of place. You can walk up from Espot or even take a 4WD Land Rover taxi. There’s a nice little restaurant (complete with espresso machine – this isn’t roughing it), 8 16-bed dorms, showers with hot water, toilets, sinks, bliss. They also knew we were vegetarian, so that’s nice.

It was a Saturday, so there were a lot of day-trippers and dinner was noisy – we shared a table with 9 Dutch people (some kind of family reunion, we think) and they didn’t know the routine: get the plates, get the soup, get the bread, get the salad, etc. They were surprised when we leapt up and got the things for the table. They also lit up when we mentioned that we had different food b/c we were vegetarian – and went to go ask for veggie food. So when the main course came and Wil went to get it, they said “These are for the OTHER vegetarians” – and it was a fried egg. Then ours came: lovely lasagnas. The omnivores had potatoes and sausages, but there was some concern that there weren’t enough potatoes for 11 (despite the fact that 4 of those people were vegetarians…). But anyway. It's funny how quickly we have become "experts", and every day it's a bit more surprising that people don't know how it "works".

After dinner we sat by the lake again, and then went up to our dorm to try to sleep, which didn’t work for a while. Lots of people enjoying a noisy Saturday night by the lake. But eventually I dropped off, even though the man next to me was snoring mightily (even through my earplugs). (Perhaps I should note that it wasn’t Wil.)

The next day's route would interesting, as there were options. My knees needed another day of rest, with no mountain passes. So we considered whether we should take the long, low route rather than go over the Monastero pass. We had already been over several passes, and would be going over several more. So maybe would continue our “rest day” by going for a long walk.

somewhere along the way... 

No comments:

Post a Comment