The title above is not exactly correct now that I think about it – we actually crossed the Pyrenees on our way to Santiago de Compostella way back in 2001. Well, this was our first proper hike in them then. We had been invited by Jean-luc and Danielle, two fellow mountain lovers who are an amazing resource on all things ‘randonee’ in France, and all-around good eggs. They booked a couple of rooms at a refuge run by the French Alpine Club, high in the Pyrenees (2005 meters, so the sign on the wall said), for a Sunday assault on Pic Carlit, the highest peak in the Pyrenees Orientales (nearly 3000 meters), and maybe the only big one that could be ‘walked’ up. More on those quotes later on.
After an evening of Alpine merriment and giant horses (seriously big horses with a suspicious cow-like quality to them…they even wear cow bells!), we headed off to conquer our ‘pic’ early the next morning. We had a group of 8. Here is Shoko walking and talking to our friend, Ienke.
Here’s Shoko walking up the trail at the beginning.
And me standing on a bolder, pretending I’m taller than Ienke…
I could have been walking in Garibaldi Park last weekend (except there were no mosquitos, bears, or Canadians…).
Ah, and WITH graffiti!
There’s our peak looming up in the distance. Once I got a look at it from this distance I wondered how exactly you would ‘walk’ up it…
And a close-up. See what I mean?
A few pictures of the approach.
And then it just got silly. We hit this area of spiny pinnacles with no trail at all – just some red paint on a few rocks showing they way you could go. Essentially it was full-on four-point climbing and steep as hell.
Luckily for me (wrap a rope around me if you want me to scale shear cliffs!), Jean-luc was having some problems with his ‘equilibre’ (later identified as the bottle of red wine he had stuffed in his backpack!), and decided it was better not to continue. I heartily agreed (Shoko was the only one having fun, I think…), and we gingerly descended, having made it to about 100 meters below the summit. A few regrets on the way down I suppose, but all was forgotten when that bottle of red was yanked out of his pack. In addition to the red, he had two whole cakes for dessert, sausages, chorizo, a bag of chips and cheese stuffed in there…hiking, French style. I could learn to love it.