The following morning my tent is covered in dew and I have to resign myself to pack it wet and hope to dry it later on. The sunrise is beautiful and we enjoy a cup of tea when we see someone passing on the trail. It’s E! We invite him to join us for breakfast but he says he is fasting which leave us baffled. The hike up today is one of the toughest since the Iparla Crest, it will be crazy hot and he won’t eat?
We leave shortly after and make our way down into the ravine before starting going uphill again. I notice some sticks are thrown on the ground in a weird way but do not think much of it as R is leading the way and I am going at a good rhythm uphill (does not happen very often!). After at least 100 meters of elevation gain, we notice that we no longer see the red and white blaze indicating that you are on a GR trail. I have no signal to check where we are on the GPS but the maps seems to indicate that we missed a turn somewhere. Alas, we have to hike down the mountain… Noooo! The turn was at the spot where I noticed the sticks on the ground. If you looked closely, they were in shape of an arrow indicating to not go further and to make a sharp turn right! Note to self: less zoning out and more paying attention to your environment.
The way up is not very long but steep and it is hot outside. I am sweating bullets and must look like quite a treat for the two vultures waiting patiently on top of a rock near the trail. Sorry guys, not this time!
We have some road walking before starting the climb up to Occabé and we pass a sign that mentions that the sheepfold around the corner sells cheese they make themselves. They also sell a donkey and as tempting as it sounds to carry my stuff up the mountains, I do not think I would have the patience to deal with those infamous animals. It is R’s birthday and he had been complaining (on a daily basis) of not finding actual cheese every time he comes across a shepherd. This time, they have a lot of it and he leaves carrying a huge piece that will probably not last long. An awesome birthday gift to himself.
And it’s time to start hiking up that beast of a mountain. It is not thaaat big (1456 m) but in the afternoon’s Summer heat, it feels like I am climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. There is not a clear trail up and we soon loose it again. The mountain is covered in small cromlechs, some of them just look like random stones weathered by rain and winds for thousands of years but when you reach the top, you can see some distinct remnants of a long gone past. I am struggling so much on the way up that I do not pay much attention to them since there is no real trail and hiking on thick grass sideways is not the easiest way to go up a mountain. R is feeling good and is already passed the first false summit. I walk on my own for another hour or so, passing chromlechs and dead cows before reaching out a big pile of rocks crowning the top of Occabé. R is here, his tent is up so it can dry and I collapse under a large rock. I also put my tent up so it can dry and after lunch, it’s time for an epic nap to recuperate and reach the Chalet d’Iraty, today’s endpoint.
More pictures of the Cromlechs here (not mine).
It is time to start the descent, my time to shine since I am faster in the way down and R is faster on the way up. We arrive at the Chalet Pedro, where we get a Monaco (the usual) and someone tries to make us pay to fill our bottles with tap water. Not very nice. The place is filled with people doing yoga and kids running around. It is obviously a popular place and easily accessible by car. We decide to leave fast and find a place to camp for the night. Iraty has some Chalets you can rent but it is way above our budget. We get in sight of the first chalet and find a nice spot next to the trail with a beautiful view. When you have a tradition to go to bed with a gorgeous sunset, why would you change it?
Disclaimer: this trip was done in September 2016