GR11 Hiking

Day 2: My Neck, My Back, My Booty and My Crack

Kilometres walked: 37 / Total distance: 70km / Elevation gain: 1716m / Elevation loss: 1240m / Time walked 9h39min

I thought those were the lyrics of that one song, at least that’s what I’ve been humming all day, but when I looked them up it turned out they’re quite different from what I remembered. In any case, my version works perfectly as a title.

Basically, it’s a list of things that hurt. My neck & back from the pack that’s a bit heavier than I trained with, my booty from walking uphill and my crack…well let’s say that my super breathable undies are not breathable enough.

Leaving Bera

Because day 1 involved a change of plans, I had a choice to make for day 2: am I going to try and stick to the plan, making up for what I lost yesterday? Or throw the plan out of the window altogether?

I had made a non-refundible booking for a hostal for the third night, which I would like to keep, but between me and that hostal were 70kms and several peaks of increasing altitude.

It wouldn’t hurt to try? I figured I would give it a shot (spoiler: it would hurt).

Day 2 started with a steep climb out of Bera. Even with the temperature having dropped to 22°C in the morning, it was a hot, muggy and sweaty climb. Imagine I would have done this yesterday evening…no way. And the sun wasn’t even fully out yet!

Sunrise over Bera

After that first steep climb a series of rolling hills. Sorry, everyone describes the Basque country as ‘a series of rolling green hills’ so I tried to come up with something more original but it just…fits. Green rolling hills is exactly what they are. There’s grass, there are ferns, and there is a lot of up and down but mostly up.

Rolling green hills. Yup.

Two hours later I arrive at a col on the border with France where I have coffee, and meet three dudes doing the Haute Route de Pyrenees. I’m leapfrogging with them the whole day, exchanging niceties and chitchat until, at the last break before Elizondo, one of them asks me if I have any cream or vaseline “because the heat, it hurts” while gesturing vaguely towards his balls.

I do not have vaseline, but I do have a tube of cream with lanolin for my eczema, so I give him that and he disappears into the bushes and comes back 5 minutes later, visibly relieved.

Town business

I love how hikers have no shame. And joke’s on me, because half an hour later I sense an uncomfortable burning sensation between my own butt cheeks. Uh oh. Luckily I’m almost in town, Elizondo, where I head straight to the pharmacy and ask for “cream for a baby’s ass” in mangled Spanish. It works! Like I said, no shame.

Elizondo

Besides the asscream I order some food I’m a bar and stock up on water before heading out of town again. I got a schedule to keep! But at this point, 31km in, I am knackered and planning to pitch at the first campsite I find.

First wildcamp

That first campsite turns out to be another 6km uphill, on a tiny col next to two crossing paths. It’s not great but it will have to do, I don’t have many more steps in me. Cowbells -the soundtrack of the Pyrenees- in the distance. I fight with my tent in the wind, make my dinner and force myself to eat it. Despite 9,5hours of walking, I am not very hungry.

A restless night’s sleep follows. I am a seasoned solo camper, and a seasoned wild camper, but I never have actually wildcamped by myself, and on top of that my legs are cramping. Around midnight there’s a short lightning storm and I lie awake thinking about all the things that can go horribly wrong. A couple of hours later my alarm beeps.

Another day, another hill to crest. But that’s for the next post!

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