GR11 Day 18 Wild Night in France
la Mina camped near the ruins - France
We headed off early after a restful night, and made the stunning hidden valley, on top of a mountain, where you expect a peak is instead a stunning valley, filled with beautiful water meadows and streams. We watched the horses cantor down the sides of the valley, took many many pictures, and ooohed and ahhhad at the views as we enjoyed a leisurely walk through this green oasis.
Unfortunately valleys only last so long and we then had to climb up to summit the col ...., reaching the top the view down towards the lake was spectacular, and a relief, as we had run out of water.
However something seems to have changed on the route as the path down to the lake wasn't marked. We carried on following the markers but they made no sense to the guide book and when Jac checked the GPS we were no longer on the GR11. Instead we were heading off round the back of a mountain and not to liquid refreshment. After a small dehydration induced tiff we ignored all paths and each other, and headed down to water.
Once we were rehydrated we worked out where the correct path should be, but for some reason all the markings have been erased by an enthusiastic hammer drill, it was all very odd.
As we had lost time with water shortage and route finding, we decided to call it a day and pitch higher in the valley well away from the cows at the bottom of the pass. We found the perfect pitch and were just about to set up our home for the night, when the ominous clanging of cow bells was heard and we were quickly surrounded by a huge herd. Cows are very curious and eventually will come over to investigate you, they are also a bit big for me, so we packed up again and headed further down into the valley, we were just trying to work out where to go next as the mist was coming down when out of the cloud appeared another hiker. It turns out that he is in fact the author of the guide book we are following a Mr Brian Johnson, or as I will now call him jet pack Johnson. He was a very quirky character, covered in tattoos. We had a chat for 30 mins where I did (because I can't help myself) point out that his timings seemed a bit adventurous, and we couldn't match them. He just smiled and said he had only met one English girl that could match his times. It seemed an odd comment and it has bugged me ever since, like it was boastful, and the whole point of timings is to give a realistic indication on pace, not make yourself look super human.
Anyway rant over, the cloud had now descended and we carried on a little way down the path until we found a flat area to the side, and pitched up. We were just about to go to sleep when another sodding herd of cows came around the corner and appeared out of the mist to stare at us, I had to shoo 4 young bulls away as they wanted to look into the tent and I did not want a ripped tent or squashed head. Eventually they disappeared, and then another group clanged up and we once again chased them away, it was all getting a bit fraught and we were about to pack up but it was getting dark and it was misty so we stayed put and had operation cow watch till they went away.
Peace at last and then we heard something around the tent, a quick look outside had us face to face with Mr Fox who was attracted by the 3 cheese pasta we had for dinner.
Later that night we heard lots of grunting off to the side, at first I thought Jac had wind, but once we opened the tent flap again we saw a family of wild boar foraging around in the grass about 15 foot away from us. Jac was a bit freaked by this point but I said we were fine in the tent just watch them, and by the way bring the food bag in, just in case.
Eventually despite everything we fell asleep until about 3 am when more bloody cows turned up.
Things I have learnt:
Cows are nice on a plate, or in a pie, especially in a bun with some salad and cheese. They are not nice in a field, quite close to your head with no protection should they decide to sit on your green tent and squish you in the middle of the night.
It's amazing who you meet in the mountains.