Pyrenees 19/08/2006


Got up about 5am to catch the Stanstead Express. Was the first to stanstead and settled down for breakfast and a half of caffrey's in the O'neils pub. John then Nick arrived andwegot in the queue for the zaragoza flight. It was long but we didn't seem to take any longer than usual to check through. The flight was uneventful aprt from some weird scenery as we neared zaragoza, and then we had the passengers clapping after a slightly bumpy landing. We disembarked to the car only to find some silly slightly toasted spainsh footballers wife had lsot the keys to her car which was parked in front of ours. We finally got away after she had been speaking for 20 minutes non stop on the phone with the help of the car rental girl when we pushed her out of the way. We drove for a while in the black nissan micro then, stopped to get some cash and supplies before carrying on along a very windy road to Torla. We found the refugio L'atalaya and unpacked and had a beer. We popped into town had a beer and the guys had a frankfurter in a bar as we waited for the pizzeria to open. At 8pm we were able to get in and have a pizza in what was soon a very busy restaurant. After this I was very disapointed to find the most highly advertised pub in town was actually closed so we returned to the refugio and retired into our top 3 a side bunks.
Nick had concussed himself in the night, so it slowed him a bit in getting up. The alarm went off at 7.30am but a bit of anticipated faffing delayed our departure. The breakfast coffee was very good however which came in a soup bowl. We dropped some stuff off in the car, and then set off just after 9am. We were at 1,033 metres and had to climb to 2,160 metres, so just a bit of climbing. It was quite cool early which was good and we were also motivated to get the refugio quickly as we had not been able to book a bed. We pressed on and went down a very scenic valley and got some good pictures of waterfalls. We lunched, or at least the guys lunched on bread and cheese and ham by a stream. We pressed on through a very impressive valley then at just after 2 pm we started the ascent to the refugio de Goriz. We were at 1,700 metres, so the last stretch of the day took in 460 metres of climbing Nick set off first while John faffed and got his headset on, I after a while followed and caught up Nick and we climbed to the refugio together leaving John to trek on to the chili peppers, even so we all managed to pass a significant amount of other walkers on the way up. The refugio and the news that we had bunks for the night were both very welcome arrivals. We sat outside for a while then tried our bunks out for size. Then me and john left Nick to kip while we had milky coffee and chocolate biscuits. We had an interesting meal, it started with lentils, then went onto salad, then some meat, and finally a kind of lemon meringue topping, I could have sat there quite happily for a while on my blow up pillow and drank the cans of estrella dam. But about 8.30pm we were chucked out for the next sitting.
During the night in a dorm full of 27 people it seemed partcularly sadistic on the part of the refugio owners to feed them all lentils. Poor Nick had just 2 trips to the toilet tonight, but as it was outside in a portocabin, I'm glad it wasn't me. After a very ropey nights sleep we at least had a reasonable serve yourself breakfast were I managed to get two decent bowls of coffee. Up and out then at 9am, we slipped over a hill and proceeded to descend a very long way, nearly a 1,000 metres in some ways descending is harder than ascending especially on the feet as you put more weight on them and your feet get jammed against the toe of your boot, the tracks were also very rocky which was tougher on Nick in his trainers. After a partcicularly tricky descent we were followed by a flock of vultures which was pretty worrying. We got right down and stopped by a stream for a reast well at least the others rested I chose to jump from rock to rock. On then and downwards following the river, this was a task for the day no sooner would we catch it then it would plunge over a waterfall and we would have to set off after it. Luckily a lot of the trip was in the shade of trees or it would have been a lot harder. We stopped for lunch and I had some of the sausage on a string by a waterfall were we dipped our feet in the freezing water. We carried on and later came across another little waterfall and did the same. This was really relaxing in the sun. But after carrying on a little while. We had to take the path to Nerrin and this went uphill, which quickly took it's toll on John who donned his earphones, but eventually we crested a ridge and could see Nerrin in the distance. Me and Nick got there and waited for John we could tell when he was nearly there by the F words when he saw the stairs, that he didn't know where the last ones. We then quite easily got our hotel and ordered a beer and a coke, then to our delight we all got a shower and a chance to wash our clothes. Our day had taken nearly 9 hours so the guys had a few blisters. We popped down to lunch and had some scotch broth, salad and hurrah ice cream for afters. We made it all the way to 10.30 pm before retiring on John's birthday. Though not before me and Nick had given John a birthday card or at least a postcard from the last refugio hastely scribbled on.
After the nightly comedy of Nick banging his head on the way to the loo we popped out of bed a little less than bright and breezy, but after a copious supply of bread and coffee for breakfast we set of with only moderate oohing and ahhing from John and Nick. We split up rather quickly, Nick preferring the windey road route in his trainers to the cross country route that me and John took. It certainly was warm from the word go today, Scorchio! Was a phrase over used during the day, we had to climb a 1,000 metres during the day and descend a 1,000 metres. The uphill seemed easier on legs that weren't fresh after the epic of the previous day. Nick and John were suffering a bit from blisters and the like, so were doing very well, by the end of the day even my feet were feeling a bit tender, so I don't blame Nick for forsaking the extended downhill off road section to Torla. John and myself probably got the benefit of some badly needed shade, but lost out in terms of roughness and scratchiness of our path. We got there alright though by about 4.30pm to go straight into a bar for a beer and a couple of soft drinks then we booked into a hotal and met Nick in another bar. We dumped our kit at the hotel which had a room with only 3 beds, but did have the luxury of a telly and a bathroom. We set off then to a posh restaurant El Duendo and had a slap up 3 course meal for 16 euros. We popped into the bar of the first night as well and made it to 11pm before going to bed.
Up in the morning and we drove back to Zaragosa, via a stop off at the shopping centre were we had stopped on the way out so Nick could get some walking boots and me and John could get coffee and croissants. The flight back was delayed by 30 mins or so but otherwise was uneventful.