Pyrenees 16/08/2009

Didn't feel too hot when I got up but got my packing Finnish and played a little bit of freedom force before catching the central line to Liverpool St were they were busy recording a video for a pop song it looked like. I got an ice cream from McDonalds and 45 mins later the stanstead express deposited me in stanstead. To my surprise John and Brian were already there. We checked in and went through to the wetherspoons bar for a beer and we met Nick there. It was rather warm in the airport but the flight to zaragosa on Ryan air was only 1 hr 50 mins. The landing was rather rough which elicited a round of applause from the Spanish flyers for some reason. We caught a taxi to our hotel which was rather plush, myself and Nick had a living room and office. We just dumped our bags however and headed out to the nearby bar for some beers and an ice cream in my case and two rather large sandwiches for Nick. We stayed as you would expect until the bar was closing.
Early start that was a bit wasted as there was a problem with the car hire, so we had to wait around a bit. Had a nice ice cream for breakfast in the hotel lobby, then we hiked a bit in the 32 degree heat to get to the car hire place. We did some shopping in the supermarket then were ready to set off. It was quite a long drive to the place we set off from, the car was quite wide as well which caused a bit of trouble on the country lanes especially with the many camper vans on the road, the cyclists did better in overtaking them than we did. Initially we had a bit of a problem getting out of the town of zaragosa, we went past one place 3 times, but in the end google directions on my phone came to the rescue. We didn't get to the car park and set off till nearly 4pm, and it was 800 metres straight up to the refugee at 2,209 metres. It was pretty warm climbing up and we saw some beaver like animals. We got to the hut just as dinner was being served. The first dish was a rather crude broth with lots of bones in, though this was followed by sausages and potatoes then chocolate cake and cheese and beers.
After not the best sleep I have ever had, at least I was treated to a nice large bowl of coffee at breakfast. In light of the days activities it might have been better to have more than a couple of thin slices of bread and Jam though. We started off well enough. There was a large climb out from the lake with the refugio but we managed that ok for lunchtime we ended up at a place on a dam that had about 4 trains running to it. They teased me by having a fridge with ice cream in it, but it wasn't working so I had to have coca cola and a packet of crisps because john didn't get me the beer I had asked for. I changed into shorts and put on the suncream at this point as we had a long walk up a path to get out of yet another valley. We met quite a lot of other folks going up it but naturally I had to overtake them and beat them to the top, but this just meant I had to wait for the others. But at least the rest point was a refugee, but they didn't have lemonade or drinking water, so I was glad we were doing two days in one after a fairly long rest we were treated to another long climb out of a valley into another one. This time we had the pleasure of scrambling over big rocks to do so. After clambering down the other side we did have a moments respite by a lake were myself and Brian dipped our feet in, but we soon regretted this stop as we could see ominous clouds and heard thunderclaps in the distance, even more worrying as we descended into the valley it sounded like there were rattle snakes in it. But then disaster we found we had gone wrong and had to backtrack out of the valley of thunderstorms and rattlesnakes, which meant much more climbing especially for me and John who had gone the furthest. On the plus side it decided not to rain but the climb back knackered John who could only move slowly from then on. I stayed with john whilst the others got to the hut and booked us in, but the hut was superb, had a bar with draught beer which I indulged in, whilst john tried to kip on the dinner bench. Diner was soup, meatballs, bread and an apple. Afterwards we got a shock as we had to do some via ferrata up to our beds, just what you need after an 11 hour day were we managed 1 mile every 52 minutes.
There was a good deal of snoring during the night, though surprisingly not from our landing, even more surprisingly Nick went the whole night without going to the loo rather than risk the perilous descent in the dark. Breakfast was at 7.30 and we had coffee, bread and jam, biscuits and a little cake which was fine. We had a good start apart from a slight detour from the planned route at the start which was not disastrous and we were able to rejoin the route quite easily. We had to climb out off the valley through a herd of cows, but luckily we were climbing in the shade and didn't get to warm we even found some snow at the top from here on it was all down hill, nearly 800 metres of descent. The route was a great one down through a number of valleys and it would certainly have been quite strenuous if we had been slogging uphill in the heat, the only downside was that the path was often very rocky and we had to pick our way down, was starting to get a bit painful on the feet by the end of it, so when we got back down to the bottom we dipped our feet in the river while we waited for nick. Unfortunately the water was absolutely freezing. Nick soon joined us and we set off in the car and soon found a restaurant at the top of a Col, we watched all the sheep and chickens and the others enjoyed some chips while I had an ice cream. We pushed on then to the zaragrosso airport and dropped Nick off so he could go to work the next day. As we were pushing on we noticed the temperature was still at 37 degrees at about 7 pm. We got to the house just after 9.30 pm to find Paula and Angela and John's sister and Angela's parents. Had dinner of lasagne and a few beers.
Got up about 9am and waited for it to get warm enough, before going for a run, went east and found a route grs 38 that took me to the top of the hill, undortunately my ipod ran out of charge so I only did about 12 k, then after a diet coke went with brian for a ride on the bikes, stopped in polientes and had a beer.
Another long run got to the top of the hill easier, then ran to the west but didn't see anything of interest before I turned back, did about 7 miles but faster. We then took the car to see our friend Jesus at his vineyard, this year he also had his hotel which had a very nice steam room, jacuzzi and sauna. I also bought a bottle of white wine that we had at John's birthday dinner later. Very nice. We also stopped for lunch at a restaurant that jesus had rexommended, casa Toni, I had two desserts and the restaurant was very nice with a millstone underneath the glass top.
Very long run today nearly 2 hours and 11 miles. Ran to the top of the ridge and ran past the observatory and tried to make it to the rocky outcrop at the end of the valley, but the path degenerated into a goattrack which went back down the hill so I didn't manage it. In the evening we went to a charming restaurant near rocamundo. The bar had a glass floor over a mill water which was very interesting. The meal was very good, I had steak for main course which was excellent and a sorbet with vodka for dessert, we also got some shooters from the chef afterwards very nice. Afterwards I stayed up a bit later to finish rescue dawn and sex in the city.
Up and went for a quick 3 mile run that took almost 30 minutes due to the heat as we were leaving for the airport the temparature was 37 degrees. The journey back was uneventful as you always hope they will be.