Past threads on the HRP have been informative and amusing, so it might be useful to start one for those planning a visit this year.
I'm wandering off on a route close to the various HRP trails, starting from Hendaye on 4 August and expect to finish on the Med in late September, in time to celebrate the fiesta mayor in Barcelona. I say wander because I don't want to hurry and would particularly like to stop a couple of days, for example, in the Marcardau valley, somewhere I've never been and about which the likes of Kev Reynolds and Andy Howell have waxed lyrical, and also to get up to Posets and Mont Roig this year.
I reckon my pack will weigh under 14kg, including food and water. I doubt whether I can get the weight down much from that. The kit is centred around a Golite 1 shelter, Alpkit 400 bag, Jetboil stove and Golite Pinnacle pack. I expect to eat at refuges wherever possible.
I'm going to use the Rando Editions 1:50000 Carte de Randonnee maps which I've obtained from Amazon and Maps Worldwide, and which I'm going to cut up to reduce the >1kg weight.
BTW, the 2nd edition of Tom Joosten's HRP guidebook is due to be published by Cicerone on 15 April. I also think that Veron's original guide is an inspiration.
Veron's original guide is great, I looked averywhere for it to no avail and then found it quite by chance in a quiet backwater bookshop for £4
..... So it looks like I might be on my tod this summer then! Hey ho.
Does anyone who's started on the GR10, GR11 or HRP know of a shop in Hendaye or Biarritz where you can get hold of Coleman gas carts?
Nice to hear from you again
I did ask this question a couple of year's back and got no response. Hence last year I came out by bus/ferry to Paris and then train with gas in sack. I didn't see any such shops in Hendaye but I do remember a couple of the camp sites selling gas but can't remember whether it was Colemans. Suggest you ditch the Jetboil and take an MSR Superfly (less weight) which is compatible with both types. I used one of these and got across with two 500 gm cannisters.
I will probably be doing it too Rob but am waiting to see if that will be solo or accompanied.
The Superfly might be the way to go for gas, if not you can always get one of these.
I've written to Coleman asking about suppliers in Hendaye etc without a response, which is why I posted. And google doesn't seem to come up with any sports/camping shops.
Yeah, I remember seeing your C500 cart in Espot, Pedro, and saw from your other threads how you travelled to Spain.
Ed - I've got one of those Vaude gadgets, but must try it out. I haven't yet worked out how the top screws to the cartridge.
I'm now toying with the possibility of a Honey Stove with trangia backup as an alternative. I also really like the idea of sitting around a small wood fire.
Owen - Like you, I'd recommend to anyone a visit to Ordesa as I've spent many glorious days there, though I'm probably going to give it a miss this time as it's packed out in August, and I fancy the Heas/Barroude stretch. But nothing's fixed, I intend to pick out a route as I go.
I see in the Cicerone preview of Tom Joosten's 2nd edition that he has made some changes to his last recommended route, and he also tries as far as possible to end each stage at a refuge. It's quite a long way from the Veron approach which offers a whole array of altermatives to choose from, and tends to leave you to choose.
I'm conscious of the physical stress involved in long treks as I was crippled with shin splints on the penultimate day of my Pennine Way trip last year. Is it a good idea to do a lot of fitness stuff before you going, or do you get up to speed on the job? And how often, if at all, do you take a day off on a long trek?
I reckon I was averagely fit when I left Hendaye, took it easy the first day, struggled the second but from then on could keep to GR11 guidebook times. I did not plan days off. They just happened, depending upon where I was, what the weather was like, what state my clothes were in etc. In all there were 4 days when I was stationary and two more when I just had an easy half day.
Heas/Barroude is a great walk. I met no one when I did it, and I struggled to convince the old lady at Heas campsite that I should pay her !
I reckon that must be about right for a 40+ day walk, Peter, although I've never been away that long before. This good French HRP blog (in french) -
- recommends 3 breaks following demanding sections on the HRP, at Pierre St Martin, in the middle (Gavarnie?) and at Salardu.
Do other long distance trekkers have a view about days off?
Like Pedro I tend to take them as they come - and I sort of think your body decides that for you; on the GR5 and other longer trips I took time when I thought I needed it - planned stops don't really work for me although I am an extremely retentive planner things don't work out the same way as plans.
On shorter trips - two or three weeks, I don't tend to bother unless I have plenty of time in hand; preferring to dawdle in the mountains rather than arrive two days early in a town.
I reckon I would be around 10-11kgs for 5 days; that said I have been getting my pack weight down by choosing very light gear for a few years.
I don't think 14kgs is too much really and have often carried that much in winter conditions. It just slows you down a little - giving you more time to look around!
I normally weigh in at about 10 kgms at airports and then add fuel and food.
One advantage of a heavy load is the downhill momentum (Mass * Velocity) !
Apologies if you've read this before on other threads.
On travel, we took the train last year from Manchester to Pau, a great overnight trip from Paris to Pau and the timings give you a nice evening in Paris as well and a morning breakfast stop on the way back. It costs about £130 return and that includes two nights' accommodation in couchettes.
Book London - Pau on raileurope.co.uk about ten weeks to three months in advance. The same train goes on to Lourdes for an easy bus to Cauterets.
Just as a suggestion if you're not following the HRP rigidly. Once you drop down from the refuge Bayssellance after about 1km there is a small track following a stream to the left. If you follow this (it soon peters out about but it continues on via cairns after a couple of kilometres and about an 800m climb you'll come to the Lac des Gentianes just beneath a col with a couple of walled places for camping. If you want to see an excellent sunset over Vignemale with a full view of the glacier this a well worth the wait. Especially when the Isards come up for a drink of an evening. I have some photos somewhere which do it no justice at all but I will upload them at some stage.
Incidentally why stop for a couple of days at Marcadau? It is beautiful but the refuge is a real dump with one toilet open for 100+ people and as it is only just over 2 hrs walk from the car park, it is thronged in the summer. I've even seen the french version of hoodies there. You'd be better off at Oulettes de Gaube or Bayssellance or Respumoso on the Spanish side (which has a shower in each dorm and San Miguel on tap).
Just the kind of suggestion about good bivvy spots I was looking for, thanks. Re Marcadau: it's just that I've always managed to miss going there, and Kev R maintains it is one of the best valleys as an introduction to the range. Do you know, Phil, if they are lockers at the refuge, to leave a rucksack while on a day walk?
I don't want to stay at any of these refuges, but camp nearby. In fact, where there are loads of people and/or camping is discouraged especially in Spain, I was thinking of reconnoitring a camp spot some way off before dark and, if the terrain was OK, getting a meal & wine in the refuge, and then making off to pitch up for the night. Is it likely that the guardians will object to this?
Does anyone have any comments about which refuges are difficult about camping? I think Estos is one, and more recently Viados, although I once camped outside the latter. I know it has been generally OK to camp near the French refuges, eg at Arlet, Pombie, Respumoso, Oulettes de Gaube, Sarradets and also Goriz in Spain and Coma Pedrosa in Andorra. I am going to try to get going in the morning by 6ish to avoid hasstle as well as the heat but, to be honest, I've rarely managed to do that for more than one start!
I do like the social side of refuges as well as the shelter occasionally in poor weather, but essentially I've got to keep the carrying pack weight down by eating out whenever possible. I expect to carry a max of 2.5kg food at any one time + water.
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