Kilometres walked: 21km / Total distance: 486km / Elevation gain: 1463m/ Elevation loss: 1316m / Time walked: 6h30min
[I still have to write a wrap-up of the Carros de Foc loop I did with Antonio, but in the meantime I’ll continue with the regular programme of GR11 blogs. Photos are included via links]
I wave goodbye to Espot. It’s a nice town, but after two days being ‘stuck’ there because of a stomach bug (or food poisoning? Who knows) I’m eager to get going. Still a bit weak due to not being able to keep any food down for a day and a half, I decide to take it easy and just see how far I can get.
Tiny, empty towns
The first stage to Guingeta d’Aneu is easy, although I’m taking more breaks than usual. I pass the tiny villages of Estais and Jou, a couple of houses only, before I descent to Guingeta where there is a camping with a small supermarket. If needed I can stop here for today, but I’m actually feeling pretty good so I just buy some hummus and bell peppers in the store and eat them with my tortilla wraps, and finish with a café con leche in the bar.
Enough energy to keep going, I start the climb to Dorve. The guidebook mentions this as steep and preferably avoided at the hottest time of day. Naturally, I’m starting the climb at 12:15. The heat is real, but the steepness isn’t too bad, and there is occasional shade to take a break.
Dorve is another tiny town, mostly deserted. From what I can tell, only one or two houses are (permanently) inhabited. I wonder what will happen to these towns when the last generation of inhabitants dies. It wouldn’t be the first ghost town in Spain. Yet, the local government is investing in new plumbing, a big banner proudly announces.
I sit in the shade for a bit, text my friends, and try to drink lots of water. There is no water on the rest of the climb, and with still a 1000m or so to go I better stock up. I’m probably still a bit dehydrated from being ill, but I’m not really feeling thirsty either, and I’m worried I’ll get nauseous again if I gulp down too much water. Tiny sips the rest of the climb, and lots of tiny breaks.
I don’t know if it’s me being weaker than usual, not being used to the weight of a full pack anymore since the Carros de Foc, or the three liters of water I’m carrying now, but my pack feels insanely heavy and the strap digs into my shoulder again. Step by step I drag myself up the mountain. The climb isn’t actually too bad, it just takes forever. Luckily the last part is via a wooded ridge (shade!) and finally I arrive at the col (2200m or so).
Should I stop here? There are places to pitch but it’s still early. There are some clouds, but no storm forecasted. There is no water until a few hours into the descent, but I have enough for a dry camp, I think. I am pretty tired, but the descent isn’t too complicated or technical, just steep, so I think I can do it. I decide to continue, mostly because I don’t really feel like lounging around camp for that long. I just spend two days in bed, dammit!
I start walking down. Unexpectedly, there are places to possibly camp on the way down, except that they’re either dug up by (presumably) wild boars OR covered in cow shit. Not great, so I continue, until I pass a tiny muddy stream (water!) and just behind it, a flat grassy terrace up the hill. There’s cowshit, sure, but in between there is just enough space for my tent. Cowbells in the distance. A bit further is a barn, which I inspect as a possible shelter, but that’s very actively used by animals it seems. I pitch, cook dinner, brush my teeth, write this blog, and listen to the cowbells which are coming closer. I hope I’m not getting any unwanted visitors tonight.