We spent a little over a week on the GR10 from Hendaye to Logibar. The hiking was varied and gorgeous, and very up and down. Now we see why the trail, if stretched out straight, would be almost twice as long as the straight-line distance it covers. It is purposeful in its quest for spectacular vistas from the highest point nearby (and NOT from the roads that so temptingly skirt around the mountain instead of up and over).
As we got further and higher into the more remote regions towards the 7th and 8th days, the accommodations became more, um, basic, and facilities more shared. A well-timed day of thunderstorms gave us the perfect opportunity to skip out on more nights on thin mattresses and in close quarters with other hikers. We did a hop, skip and a jump (translate taxi to the train to a bus) to eventually land in Bagnères-de-Luchon. More on Luchon in the next post. Here are some pics and some videos from glorious Basque Country.
Our little hotel in Ainhoa, with typical Basque architecture.
Beautiful interior in our little hotel in Ainhoa.
Haze and clouds rolling in from the Atlantic to the valleys on our way from Ainhoa to Bidarray.
Parting picture of the sleepy little village of Ainhoa.
On our way to Bidarray. 15 miles and 2,500 feet gain and loss. The majority of the descent was over a distance of about 2 miles. Very steep path down from this rock overhang. Shauna wanted to sit on the ledge for a pic, but Mark said ‘absolutely not’.
More pics of the the descent to Bidarray. Very, very steep with limited recovery from a misstep.
The stream running through St-Étienne-de-Baïgorry was full of fish (and fishermen).
We walked in the footsteps of centuries of past inhabitants across the old Roman bridge at St-Étienne-de-Baïgorry.
About to leave for St. Jean-Pied-de-Port from St. Etienne. The 6 hour 15 minute time estimate is based on straight-through hiking; i.e., no nature breaks, lunch breaks, etc. We found the time estimates to be in-line with our personal experience.
Incredible views of the broad valley.
We had a 360 degree view at the peak of Mt. Monhoa on the way to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. You can just see the road down below that conveniently carried more sensible people around the mountain rather than over it. But the views from the top were worth it.
VIDEO: 360 View from Mt Monhoa
Making more new friends on our way to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. This local man had done the entire GR 10 in about 50 days – but spread out over 10 years.
Coming into the outskirts of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
Gorgeous Italian Cypress trees (we think). Lots of pride taken in people’s yards, flowers and gardens.
Hikers heading south from France to walk the St James Way – or the Camino de Santiago – often cross paths with GR 10 hikers going east or west in St-Jean. One of the pilgrims, an Austrian, who was staying in the same little b&b as us with his brother-in-law.
The walk to Estérençuby was short and fairly easy. The valleys are lush and green.
VIDEO: St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Esterencuby Landscape
Shauna’s hat looks much better on her than on Gertrude. The red/white painted markers are fairly frequent and usually conspicuous. We did get caught up in our iPod stories at one point and went a half-hour – and 350 feet of elevation! – out of our way. We should have noticed sooner that we hadn’t seen a marker in awhile.
Nice view of the tiny village of Estérençuby to which we are about to descend. Steep descent.
Sunrise as we depart Estérençuby for a tough hike to Col Bagargiak.
Hike was long – about 15 miles with 6,000 ft elevation gain – but beautiful. Views of lush valleys, trails through old forests, drops to the valley floors, etc.
VIDEO: Changing landscape Esterencuby to Col Bagargiak
Not our roomiest accommodations….
…..but we were pooped and happy to have a place to stay.
Sunrise from Col Bagargiak was simply spectacular.
We were glued to our spots on top of Col Bagargiak as we watched the sunrise unfold.
VIDEO: Sunrise video from Col Bagargiak
Sunrise gave way to misty mountains.
Watching the sun work its magic to clear away the mist.
We were hiking along a high ridge and felt on top of the world. Landscape really changing now.
VIDEO: Landscape between Col Bagargiak and Larrau
Taking a breather on top of a ridge.
Those roofs at the bottom of the pic were our next point of reference along the trail. The terrain was steep; we had to take lessons from the goats on being sure-footed on the descents.
Can you tell that Shauna loves hiking in the mountains?
As we descended to lower heights, the valley became more forested.
Our destination was just outside this pretty little village – Larrau.
We hiked along this unusual ridge for our final descent. Today’s hike included about 4,500 feet of descent. It was good to get down. Our knees agreed.