I woke this morning with about ten foot visibility. The evening before was the same. The day before the evening was rainy and cloudy. I was damp, wet, disconsolate and cursing. I couldn’t light the meths to make coffee until a camping neighbour assisted with a lighter. This happened a few times so I realised quality control with French alcool de bruler is not good. Then I spilled my precious mug of hot coffee so had nothing to drink. I remembered, vaguely, the same had happened in 2009 and I’d taken coffee at refuge Pombie. I did the same again. All of that takes time which meant I didn’t start walking until ten thirty or eleven. That meant however I was in the right place, at the right time, for this shot of Midi d’Ossau as the clouds were burning away. I’d set off wearing my fleece and Goretex and in less than an hour downhill I was stripped down to shorts and vest. If I’d started walking at eight or nine in the morning, which is typical, this uphill view would be nothing but dismal cloud. Further down from here I got tangled in electrified wire. The path isn’t clear and I wandered into a cattle area. I tried ducking under it but it caught on my rucksack. Then my foot slipped on the mud. Cursing, I had to retreat, take off my rucksack, and try again. My intrusion meant the wire was now slack, two feet from the ground, which wouldn’t fence in the cattle. I tried to correct it with the poles but it didn’t work. I noticed a farmer watching me with binoculars outside a hut. He started to come over. He adjusted a tension pole and the wire lifted again. “Ah, c’est bon” I shouted. I thought he might be angry, which made me angry, because it wasn’t my fault. “Pardon monsieur” I shouted again, because it was his land. He raised his arm and seemed calm about it.


Pyrenees Mountains Book: Midi d'Ossau Cloud

Saturday October 4, 2014