Day 43: Étang d'Izourt - Siguer

Trip Start Jul 05, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2010

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Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Normally I awake with a startle when the alarm goes off at 6AM, but I was awake before then, freezing! My summer sleeping bag is filled with down and was working brilliantly, but my face, the part that the sleeping bag misses out, was icy cold. The food bags separated me from cuddling up to Felix. I reckon it must have been around 8 degrees. In August? Felix impressively got up and went outside to make some porridge, whilst I did nothing basically. The porridge, made from water using dried milk powder and with raisins and honey in it to perk it up, was perfect for this cold and clear morning.

We left still cold to take a horizontal path across the steep side of the mountain, the side which was in the shade. It was very scenic, and at one point we were followed by three goats, but the narrow and rocky path hurt my injured foot, and I had a blister from yesterday on the other foot. Then my blistered but OK foot jarred badly as we entered Goulier, three hours later. I was feeling very low and threw my boots off in disgust with my body. My worst nightmare was for my other foot to go and it had. Felix went off to see if the gite d'étape sold provisions and returned like an angel carrying four baguettes and two ice creams. After lunch, we tentatively began the final three hours to Siguer, watching every step I took and relying on my walking poles. Thankfully, most of it was in the shade and not too difficult, but the descent into Siguer of 750m in an hour was not what the doctor ordered. Along the way I smelt garlic, though Felix thought it was marijuana. Well they do say there are a lot of hippies in the Ariège mountains.

Siguer is a pretty and forgotten village set in a flowery valley, but had something special called the Accueil Randonneur: a room next to the Salle de Fêtes specially for walkers with two bunk beds, a table, a shower and toilet; all for free. How generous of this tiny constituency to allocate some of their funds to this! Next door, a gite had newly opened which we were told sold provisions. The owner was away on Tuesday evenings but had left a note instructing people to put money into a little box (Caisse) for anything that they take. The shop was her kitchen, with prices on all the food on the shelves and the table contained herbs, mushrooms and fruit that she had picked. It also had a free biscuit tin. I thought this concept was wonderful and old fashioned but had a feeling it just wouldn't work if you tried it in the UK. We bought some fruit and cereal bars as well as healthy items like beer and crisps. We met a chap there who had walked from Banyuls. He said the Eastern section is very hot though there is a wind. Great we thought, a wind helps so much (by cooling) and we had encountered hardly any. He also found it funny that I didn't like heights and told me of a ridge I was going to in two days time.

Back in our room, we had the place to ourselves. I read a tourist magazine that the Ariège was the wildest and most difficult part of the GR10. Three days left to our rest day - can my feet hold out?
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