Do not drink and hike: to Holzarte canyon

The spot we choose to camp turned out to be not so good for me when at 4 or 5 in the morning, a big gust of wind flattened my tent with yours truly, inside sleeping. I got up
several times, put it back up but another gust of wind came along and flattened it again. After an hour or so, I finally give up, ask for R’s hospitality so I can sleep at least one more hour before it is time to get up and hike. I had tried all the techniques that I knew: notch-storm-set-up-2lowering my poles (The Notch from Tarptent is not a freestanding tent), orientating it better, etc. Zip, nothing, nada. Try gathering all your things while trapped under a mosquito net and rain cover and you will see all the fun I had that early in the morning.

I later found out from Camping Jay (too late sadly) how to
prevent this from happening: get some extra rope and and stakes to put on the loop on each side of my tent where the poles end to anchor my tent better on the ground with the orientation changing depending on the wind. I will have to test it out.
See illustration on the side>

There is a supermarket and a café at the Iraty Chalets (some kind of ski and hiking resort) and it is so windy that we decide to go there to resupply and get breakfast without having our stoves fly over the mountain. The place is totally deserted except for some people out to look for birds. We also notice a hiker that we had spotted at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port because of his three sleeping pads. I have seen people with two, but three is a first! He seems to be enjoying the warmth as his eyes are closed, facing the morning sun. We order breakfast (oh yeah… coffee!) and before long, enters E who spent the night in one of the chalets.

While doing our resupply, we chat with the cafe manager who seems to be having a tough week. Some customers unleashed on him the day before and he still dealing with their mean comments. He explains that working on the service industry is a commitment where you have often more bad days than good days but it is ultimately worth it and it is the life he choose. He also mentions that some people no longer take the time to sit, and enjoy their meals. They expect to have everything served to them super fast, rush through and then leave. He points out that a mountain restaurant is not really the best place to have lunch in 30 minutes (or any restaurant actually). You should stop, enjoy your meal, relax, talk to each other.

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Time to leave again – the sun is out but the wind is still here! The walk up to Bargagiak is not really hard or steep but with the wind, it does make it a little bit trickier. There is an option to bypass some of the passes and not hike on the ridges but we decide to stick to the GR10 original trail. Hiking Gods decide to reward us for being purists and we find some blueberries on the northern side of the mountain! Yum! It is a bit late in the season to find them, hikers and birds usually have a go at it and in September much of it is gone.
The hike down to Logibar does not seem bad on the map but felt worse in real life. The second section of the trail makes us go through cow patties land, thick bushes and a non existent trail. We stop in some small clearing for lunch as we cannot find a good decent spot to rest. I keep an eye out for the cows that seem quite intrigued and interested by our sandwiches. Two hikers come out of the bushes, and ask about how bad is the trail from where we came from. One of them is red as a tomato and seems about to collapse. I hope he will make it to Iraty without much trouble.

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Time to leave again and make our way down to Logibar hostel, our goal for the day. The last bit is steep. SUPER steep, we go from 1500 meters to 200 in a couple kilometers. Our knees thank us when we collapse on the chairs on the Logibar terrasse where E and B are having a drink.

We get formally introduced to B while we order the biggest Monaco so far (close to a liter I think!). B started his journey at Le Puy en Velay intending to reach Santiago de Compostela via el Camino Real. He arrived at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, decided the Camino was no longer his scene and decided to walk home using the GR10 which passes by his place. He walked 700 kilometers and was about to add 200 or 300 more to it. Quite a joyful fellow and it is very nice to finally meet him! The Logibar owner is a weird character and seems pretty resentful to be stuck here and it shows. We are quite happy not to stay here (E decided to sleep at this hostel) but there are no flat spaces around to pitch a tent. This hostel is located at the very bottom of a valley with steep slopes on each side. I look at the map and it mentions a flat area right after the Holzarte bridge.

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Bridge selfie

After several monacos, we feel confident we can hike further even if we had a tough day already. I practically run through the next 2 or 4 kilometers. No grass, no roots, just nice rocks, I am flying! The guide indicates an hour to reach the footbridge but we are there in 30 minutes. The place is gorgeous and not for the faint of hearts: the footbridge goes over a 300 meters deep canyon. It is not possible to fall over the railing unless you really go for it but just looking through the net easily makes you dizzy. We stay a bit to enjoy the view and take some pictures but the sun is going to set soon and there are no camping spots in sight. We became picky since our last ones were so beautiful and we do not want to settle for anything less. We maintain a fast pace uphill and come across B an hour later. He found a nice log to set camp under (he does not have a tent and cowboy camp everywhere). We salute him and keep moving forward. We want a view!

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Don’t trip!

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We finally exit to a more open space, the sun is almost down and it is a rush against the clock to find a place to camp.

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You can meet weird people at sunset

We get to the top of the hill and here it is. THE VIEW! I am spent. We did in one hour and a half what is meant to be done in 3 hours, on top of what we had hiked prior arriving to Logibar. I am starving and exhausted and the alcohol buzz is long gone. Tent up, dinner eaten. The moon is up in the sky and I notice some glowing eyes slowing creeping up on us. We are surrounded by sheep who soon take over the top of the hill.

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Topography for the day

iraty

Disclaimer: I did this trip in September 2016

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3 thoughts on “Do not drink and hike: to Holzarte canyon

  1. Hi rockhopper, that is an amazing bridge crossing & view. The photo of you on the trail reminded me of a license plate on a motor cycle that spelled out, URNVUS, yep. I am. Take care , Base Jumper

    Liked by 1 person

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