GR10 – summary of the experience
Feeling of the trail
I was living in NYC and preparing my return to France when I found out about the GR10. I want to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and the PCT one day and was looking into similar trails in France. Mountains + long trail = sign me up! It would also be the possibility of testing my limits since I would go for the first time on a hike by myself.
I feel like when I travel alone, you are more opened to the idea of meeting new people and you are actively looking for new encounters. I rarely met boring outdoorsy people and I was looking forward to discover what my hiking compatriots were made of. I ended up not hiking by myself very long since I quickly got a hiking partner but I still enjoyed the days by myself despite the “OMG, what am I doing here” first day. I enjoyed discovering how people can be selfless and giving when we would go and ask if we can pitch our tents in someone’s field.
The landscapes were beautiful and more steep that I expected even though I used to spend my summers in Cauterets as a child. I definitely suffered a bit especially uphill during those hot September days in the Basque country. Never underestimate the power of the post lunch nap!
Equipment and maps
Equipment wise, I used everything that I carried with me, I was never cold at night – sometimes during the day especially in windy/rainy moments but when I would stop, put my fleece on and continue hiking, I was totally fine. There are two things on which I would definitely improve though:
- a hat. I didn’t have a hat (how stupid of me, no hats in the mountains) and I definitely missed it! I used a buff against the wind but it is light and only covered my ears successfully. I borrowed R’s a few times.
- my tent, as mentioned in a previous post, my tent fell on me because of a lack of properly set up guylines. I know how to improve on it and I should be all set next time to survive windy campsites 🙂
I am also considering getting an inflatable sleeping pad… we will see if I feel like splurging!
My gear list can be found here. It is targeted for Spring, Summer in the mountains and Fall. Not for Winter.
I used the GR10 Topo Guide for the Basque Country as well as printed sheets of the elevation from the GR10 website – they were very useful even if I think the distances indicated on the map are not accurate, the Topo Guide is better for this. I also used the GeoPortail app to check out other trail possibilities as well as trying to find out where I lost my way (several times) but I felt like the Topo Guide alone would have been enough. The trail is usually well indicated and blazed, a few signs were broken or removed but it was still easy to follow the red and white blazes. We used the compass once!
Turns out R was carrying enough food to feed 2 people during a week for evening meals/breakfasts and there was enough villages to buy bread (and wine hehe) every day to make sandwiches. I was always carrying a tube of mayonnaise to give a kick to my sandwiches. I was mostly adding tuna or cured ham and sometimes, when feeling fancy, tomatoes.
Mornings were made of tea and oatmeal, a good old mix of peanuts and raisins for snack along with cookies, chocolate bars and saucisson. Dinners consisted of rice/quinoa or whole grain spaghetti with soup to give it some taste. Let’s not forget the occasional dinner in the hostel and the afternoon beer (almost daily!).
195 km (not counting side trip to Spain and the Sare Caves).