Vultures: Ainhoa to Bidarray

The following morning, R and I said goodbye to Ani, the goal was to make it to Bidarray, 20 km away.

The trail to 3 Crosses Path is smooth and green with views on the ocean. At the Zuharreteaco Pass, we can see the Esteben farm nestled in the valley below. We buy a coke and a sandwich for R and we run into a cyclist who is biking as much of the Basque section of the GR10 as he can while carrying his camping gear with him (he is biking with a backpack!). I thought it was hard to walk uphill in this heat but biking… nope, not for me!

We start again, the goal is to reach Mehatché Pass and have lunch there. There is not a single tree offering shelter and it is really hot: 37 °C (98 F°). It is mostly road walking to the top of the pass where the trail becomes a dirt path again leading to a small sheep barn overlooking the Zarkambidé cliffs. There are a lot of vultures circling above our heads and I keep thinking that I must look like an appetizing snack filled with jamon and mayo from their point of view.

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We start making our way down the cliffs. IT IS HOT! There is again no trees or grass, it’s only rocks, rocks, rocks. With the sun reflecting on them, it soon starts to feel like an oven. Behold, perfected roasted hikers lathered in sunscreen incoming! A real treat for those lovely vultures circling above our heads. I start to feel like Simba in the Lion King. The cliffs are very steep and we slowly make our way down, but midway through, I find it harder and harder to keep walking in the heat. A cave perfectly named “ Saint who sweats” comes to our rescue and we can rest a bit in the cool shade. The funny thing is that in French, le “Saint qui Sue” (the Saint who sweats) can be also understood as “Sweaty Breast” if heard and not written and I received quite a few intrigued looks when I describe that section of the trail later on.

Back on the trail, I can see a gave (name given to torrential rivers in the southwest part of France) in the valley below me and it sounds particularly appealing from here. It feels as good as it looks when we finally reach it and find a natural pool with turquoise clear water. It is probably cold but it does not feel like it. Unfortunately the day is not over and there is one more hour of road walking before reaching Bidarray. At a crossroad, the sign indicates the trail is in one direction while the blazing indicates another and the map shows that we should be following the blazing. This will not be the first time we see tampered or broken signs on the GR10. Looks like someone had fun messing with hikers. It is a bit sad.

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Unfortunately, when we finally make it to the village, the supermarket is closed! We find shelter in a bar, where we manage to get an entire bottle from the owner as well as buying ham and cheese (not for me!) to go (how French!). We ask her where we can put our tents and she suggests the nearby rest house that let people pitch their tents on the lawn for a small fee. We are more of the stealth camping kind so we thank her and try to find another option. The GR10 spikes up right outside of town with very limited tent spots. We run into an old man next to the church and R asks him if he knows a nice spot where to pitch a tent for free.

“Well, you can just go to my field.

“Thank you so much! Where is it?”

“Right behind me!”

The field is huge and located right in the middle of the village and behind the rest house. We can see Robert waiving at us from a chair in the garden.

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Cooking dinner becomes a challenge in the middle of this windy field but nothing that a few well positioned sleeping pads can’t help with. Keeping the chickens at bay from our dinner is more difficult.

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Robert insists to invite “the youngsters” for dessert at the only restaurant in town and we are all seated next to a couple who did Iparla Crest the same day (it is tomorrow’s destination). It is steep and dangerous especially when it rains which is exactly what the weather forecasts tomorrow!

Disclaimer: I did this trip in September

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