From Lindux to Egergui.
After a “good” night sleep on the hard floor of the hut (upon a thin foam mattress) I woke up, seeing Dan packing away his stuff. I hurried up and started packing everything away as well. Leaving the hut 5-10 minutes after him. To my surprise Dan was standing in front of the hut trying to figure out where to go. I took the lead and we went back down to the road we had been walking the day before.
We almost never really walked besides one another, but the one in the back always had the advantage of not having to figure out where to go. So sometimes I was in front and sometimes Dan (Dan was in front most as he just walked faster). We soon came to Col de Roncevaux and started a long ascend towards France again. During this time we followed part of the Camino to Santiago which had so many markings (2 meter high poles with a blue top) that it seamed a joke (once there where 8 only 2-3 meters from one another).
Once at the border the route followed it and I took a break leaving Dan to go on. This was the only time of the day I took some pictures.
I ate a bit and took off. As I came closer to the hill you can see in the picture I saw there where many tourists climbing up to watch an old Roman tower (at least the ruins of it, if you look good you can see it on the picture above).
The path now went to an other pass, first going down a bit and then up again. Instead of following this road I followed one of the many wild horse tracks which stayed level and was more enjoyed by me then a dirt road. After the pass it was down again and almost at the next “pass” I could see Dan standing at a sign post and the French men going towards him. I trotted on and we met each other at the sign post, the French men having gone through a tiny valley and me having gone around it.
It seamed they had some problems finding the route but soon afterwards all 3 of us hiked on towards the Col d’Orgambidé (988m). From there the HRP followed a tarmac road which ended near the Grotte d’Harpéa. There we ate near a shepherds hut and talked a bit to the grand daughter of the inhabitant. I ate my last peace of the delicious cheese I had bought the day before and after a good rest we went down towards the valley bottom where a long steep climb waited upon us. It was a more then 300m ascend which zigzagged up the steep hillside. The first corner I cut off, just walking up the steep grass slope, but only arrived there as fast as the others so followed the zigzagging path up to the Col d’Errozaté.
Once at the top after a hard climb we had a short break before following a stream bed down again. After some time the stream bed contained a stream and we took the chance to wash us in the ice cold water. My blisters had gotten bad and I putted some tape around them which made it much more bearable to walk again (the pain in my hip and knee hadn’t returned since the morning of the day before).
As we where going down again I started falling behind and as they where navigating I took the chance to close the gap between me and them, not checking if they where actually going the right way. Only half way up the next hill (about a 180m climb) I checked the guide book, seeing that they had gone up to early. I again was a 100m behind them and shouted they should go left towards the top of the hill. I took a short cut towards there and we met each other 50m before the highest point. I told them to get towards a pass between 2 rocky points of the hill top and once there we saw a road. Frustrated as I was about me following them I told them to sit down and give me the map. I was able to locate us and saw that we where totally wrong, having climbed up the wrong hill. The only thing we could do now was descent the steep side full of bracken at the other side of the mountain. Every one of us at least fell once into the bracken, trying to get down. Once more I was the slowest and they got down to the stream in the valley about 10min before me (the stream we just should’ve followed all the way down to a confluence of 3 streams instead of climbing a random mountain!).
We had lost more then 3 hours and our plan to get to Chalet Pedro (with beds! and good food) was become questionable. If we wanted to get there before 10pm we had to hurry and as I and Dan had good headlamps it seamed doable. I thought for a short moment, drank some water and decided to come with them, starting to climb stream upwards and after we had come to the confluence of streams we headed SSE onto the actual hill (the right one).
My words “Let’s stick together now” where soon forgotten and I again was dragging behind. Near the top I started feeling bad and as my lips started cracking and my tong started getting stuck in my mouth. Stupid as I was I hadn’t filtered water at the stream, not wanting to hold them up much longer as we had to decide fast. But now that mistake was soon to become a threatening situation 45min up a hill. I sat down and took my whistle, directly giving an SOS signal hoping they would react (the French men was about a 100m from me and Dan was already at the top about 200m in front).
Luckily the French men turned around and started going downwards again after a few SOS signals. After explaining the situation in French with my tong stuck in my mouth he gave half an apple as he too was running out of water, only having a tiny bit left. Once Dan had come down (without backpack) I had had a bit of water and after a fast discussion the French men (whose name I forgot) said he would go down with me again. I told Dan he could go on and hoped he would have a bed to sleep in that night.
I followed the French guy down back to the stream and as the sun was going down we reached it. He knew the mountains and knowing how serious things could get with the burning sun and dry (but cooling) wind he would set up his tent besides mine. I filtered water and lent him my water filter as he didn’t have one. Once I had set up my tent I got into, lay down and got really dizzy and sick. The plan of us eating together was soon dismissed as I couldn’t eat. I just lay there in my tent, zipped up in my small home, feeling miserable. I don’t know how long I lay there but I did fall asleep after many hours. As I woke up at 2am I fell totally fine again and ate some chocolate and nuts. I lay there thinking over all my options and how I would go on with Eco Expedition Eurasia. I lay there awake for more then 2 hours before finding sleep again.
The next morning I woke up and heard my neighbor packing his things away and leaving. I got out of my tent to greet him and took the following pictures:
A man I will be forever grateful.
And again he climbed up the hill side …
I did not, I packed up my things, took my water and followed the road towards France in search of a mobile signal.
I walked for more then an hour and then called back-up, I walked for an other hour (not one car going in the direction I was walking) and came at a coll. After having eaten a bit there and resting I walked on but soon could walk no more. I sat down against a pole in search of a bit of shadow. I always had tried to put on enough sunscreen but the tips of my ears where not more then a crust which when touched started bleeding, my hands too where burned heavily. I sat there for 50 minutes before the first car passed. The car was full and so I went to sit down again and waited some more. Luckily 10min later an other car came and they had one place left. They took me to Saint Jean Pied de Port where I had an amazing meal in one of the many restaurants. After an hour of eating and drinking (ice cold water and lemonade) I had to go on, as I had told my “back-up” I was going to hitch-hike to Pau and then call. After an other half hour of walking I had a ride to a village only 20km from Pau (from where I was this was almost a 2 hour drive). On the way towards there I got a call of Lut who told me Rico was already driving to Saint Jean Pied de Port. They weren’t able to reach me before and Rico now had to turn around and drive towards the village I was being dropped off. We came to the village almost at the same moment and 2 hours later I was at their home, ending this story.
I want to thank Rico and Lut in particularly for picking me up and having me at their home for an other 2 weeks, where we had a great time (at least I had), thanks for driving all the way out to me and then back, something I can imagine can be irritating! To do this directly after a single phone call from the Pyrenees is not worthy, Thank you very very much!
Off coarse I also want to thank the French guy, who once had a name but now will always stay the “French guy who saved me”. Merci beaucoup!