Pyrenees Trek & Other European Travels, Summer 2008
About this blog
This trip as originally planned was to have been built around trekking the length of the Pyrenees Haute Route, a 500 mile trail system that follows the spine of the Pyrenees mountain range between France and Spain from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean that takes approximately two months to hike in full. The trek is detailed in a Ciccerone hiking guide by the same name.
So why plan such a trek? There are a number of reasons. My travels in recent years have largely been on overland truck trips to remote corners of the world. I somehow feel in the mood for something different, but also different from one of the many road trips I've taken around North America and the more city-based travel I've done mostly by rail in Europe. Some of the most enjoyable travel experiences I can recall involve trips built around a lot of physical activity including cycling in Germany and Austria in 1996 and a lot of hiking in the Canadian Rockies in 2003 and in various spots in Colorado over the years I've lived there. Approximately a year ago I turned 40 and maybe started to feel the need for a physical challenge as I realize I'm getting old.
So why the Pyrenees and a trek in another part of the world like the Alps or Himalayas or John Muir Trail in California? I'm not really sure. I heard about this one and it really appealed to me. The scenery looks spectacular based on pictures I've seen, mountain huts and refuges to eat in and stay in along the way make the trek easier than one that's entirely wilderness camping, and the multiple cultures and cuisines of the region - Basque, Spanish, French, and Catalan are very appealing.
Well, the trip as initially planned and the trip as it materialized turned out to be two different things, partly because of less than full preparedness and some unrealistic expectations on the part of someone who has done a lot of long day hikes but has never before done a significant backpacking trip. For details you will need to read on, but I ended up abandoning my plan for trekking the length of the full range three days into the trek, modified my plans for somewhat different travel in Europe, and ended up completing an 11-day stretch of the Pyrenees Haute Route near the west-central part of the range with my brother as previously planned.