Week Two: A Complete Washout

08/04/18-15/04/18 (8 days)

Distance:  355.9 km / 221 miles
Elevation:  
5,176 m / 16,981.6 ft

Week two was tough. It pretty much rained the whole time. Mix that with ‘0°C but feels like -4°C’ kind of temperatures, plus snow, and you've got a struggle on your hands.

We were definitely led under false pretences after the first week of suncream and t-shirt weather, so we were very unprepared. On the first day of rain, we were soaked to the bone by midday and called it quits after a measly 30 KM. We tried to stay at an albergue – a cheap pilgrim’s hostel – in Agurain, but it was closed, and so started our stint in daily-budget-blowing hotels.

Day two in the downpour, we felt better prepared. We weren’t. By 50 KM, we were done. With no campsite in Estella, we stayed in a very fancy B&B. We did find a Decathlon in town though, where we armed ourselves with 9.99 waterproof trousers. And since we were splashing out, we also treated ourselves to a kebab.

 Making full use of the B&B's heated towel rack. 

Making full use of the B&B's heated towel rack. 

Day three in the rain, we were ready. Double raincoats, Sainsbury’s sandwich bags on our feet and waterproof trousers. And it worked! Until the last 20 KM, when it turned torrential again. As Lumbier's campsite was closed due to flooding, we were left with no choice but to stay in a hotel again. We really went to town with this one – drinks in the bar, racks of lamb for dinner and breakfast the next morning. It was incredible.

 Wrapping our feet in sandwich bags.

Wrapping our feet in sandwich bags.

Towards the end of the week the weather did start to pick up, ready for our Pyrénées climb: Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin (1,750m). As we were already at around 800m, it was actually easier than we had anticipated. We did have to climb over an avalanche, however, while a traffic jam built up waiting for a snow plough. Views from the top were unbelievable, as you’d expect - and it was surprisingly warm. 

 Climbing over the avalanche. 

Climbing over the avalanche. 

 View from the top.

View from the top.

We finally made it to Bedous, a little Pyrénées village, where we had a day off lazing around in the sun. And as it turned out, our campsite was right next to the local rugby team’s stadium, so we finished the week with a beer in hand, watching them make it through to the final.

 Cooling beers in the river, ready for the rugby.

Cooling beers in the river, ready for the rugby.