Pyrenees Trip Report - day 11

Wallon to Oulette des Gaubes, another incredible day's walk.

We start late but eat early, making up for the paltry offering at dinner with multiple visits to the buffet table at breakfast, stashing lots of stale bread and spice cake.  We don't feel too bad about this to be honest, just fortunate.  After a chat with a lovely family from Holland (satsuma donation most welcome!) we head off up the valley to Lac Arriolet.

This valley is gently beautiful and a very civilised incline up after our more strenuous day yesterday, it winds though trees in shade, over footbridges and onto flat slabs.  Perfect, accessible alpine country, Wallon is popular and this is why.

We stop for a paddle at the lake, then a steeper walk through boulders to a second lake, lunch and the col.  It's a hot rock desert.  Here we meet Vignemale for the first time.

Up to the Col de Mulets was pure zen drama.  So, it said, did you get it yet?  Your dreams and desires count for nothing, your fears and petit wishes for health, wealth and comfort are but a drop in the ocean.  La Montane isn't listening, it's indefatigable, it has its own story, a constant decay and metamorphosis.
This short section - a wilderness wave in the hill - is brutal and intimidating, and I loved walking in the rippling heat around the sickle shaped curve with all my stupid heart.

Up, then down and then some.  A fairly horrible decent off the north shoulder of the Vignemale, all 4 knees hurting now on a mess of rock.  A wash and a beer at the refuge, then to dunk our pins in the freezing river run off from the glacier - its not possible to hold them under for more than a few seconds at a time.  Pitch up on the sandy plain under the big one.

Its a great place, relaxed, friendly walkers.  We buy a litre of wine, decanted straight into our plastic bottle, eat our rice and watch the cloud move up in a solid wall to touch us before moving down again.  Mesmerising.