GR5 Day 30 - Longest Day and No Water
Wild camp above Refuge de Merrvillas - Sospel
Today we have left the land of boulders, marmots and chamois and have returned to the land of trees, grasshoppers and lizards. Oh and also the heat has returned.
Last nights wild camp was beautiful and remote, tonight we are however in Sospel municipal campsite, there appears to be a Billy Ocean disco club night in a camper van not far away, and the pitch next to us has 3 girls in a very small car. They are obviously very forgetful as they keep going back and forth to retrieve stuff, and therefore constantly opening and closing the doors on the bloody thing.
We once again (against better judgement in retrospect) have combined 2 days into 1, this has meant a very long day of 22 miles and about 10 hours walking. However on the plus side we are now in the lovely town of Sospel. We have been able to shower and we went out for a very nice pizza, which meant we didn't need to eat pasta for tea again.
The first half of the walk today had us leaving the Mercantour National Park, crossing over the last boulder fields and descending down into grass valleys. As soon as we left the rocks we left the silence, with the crickets making a very vocal return, you could step back a few meters silence, and then a few meters forward, loud, it was quite surreal.
The path turned into a military road and wound its way up past ruined barracks and forts. The GR52 was rerouted a few years ago to make a much shorter day of 4 hours walking, but we followed the old route as we were intending to camp just above Sospel.
So we continued along forest tracks and ridge lines where it soon became apparent that we had a small problem, on the map there appeared no little blue lines that meant water. The few troughs we had past were empty, or in one case a lovely green sludge and drinking that was not an option.
Fortunately the sun didn't appear till later, and by this time we were into our descent in a beautiful forest. Which then turned into a pretty horrible gravel road that went on forever, winding its way down to Sospel.
The law of sod.
When you plan to wild camp, ensure you have adequate supplies of water with you, because if you do not you will not be able to stop at the many lovely spots you pass. All of them will be level, this is quite rare.
Things not to do:
Take only 1 litre of water with you each for a 10 hour hike in the sun. Delicious as Tuc biscuits and nuttela are for lunch. They will leave your mouth tasting of a chocolate sandpit, and you will have claggy chops all day.
Things to do :
Visit Sospel it's lovely, has many old buildings and a stunning square with a beautiful church, it looks more Italian than French.
Perhaps a visit by car this is a more civilised option.
Visit the delicious boulongerie, it sells many tasty treats, in fact so many we managed to spend €24 euros there the next morning!
Best quote of the day:
Jac - on seeing a very unusual GR5 sign (it was a red and white metal arrow no less).
"That's the best one all holiday, that's really made my day, all I need now is a really good poo and my day will be perfect!"