Day 1: Misty Mountains

When I was planning my hike through the Pyrenees I saw several photos of the mountains and some refugees along the way, but I never could have been prepared to encounter the beauty we saw today. When we woke up in Lescun we were astounded at the height and shape of the mountains surrounding the small village. Immediately out of town you can see a peak that reaches 8,000 feet while the village sits around 2,000. Hiking today felt incredible not only because my body felt good and I was able to see some amazing mountains, but also because I got to experience it all with someone else; who may or may not have been annoyed with my excitement for all that was surrounding us.

First thing I need to mention is the crazy fiasco of getting to Lescun yesterday. After our bus ride to Bayonne we were picked up by a French man on his way to work in Pau who seemed irritable and frustrated at almost anything, but Ryan assured me that maybe that's just how some people are. I tried to not take offense. On the way to Pau there was a steady mist in the air and the roads seemed decently wet enough to make me want to drive with caution if it were my car, but our driver did not feel the same way. After ryan did a quick calculation on his phone we found that we were going 120 miles an hour passing cars and driving through the windy highway on drenched roads. Finally we made it to Pau.

In Pau, we found a grocery store and did some shopping before catching our train to Bedous where we would hitch to Lescun. When we got into Bedous a bus was waiting outside the train and took us within 6 kilometers of Lescun, but there was still a steep long road ahead of us and we worried about the rain that was to come in a short while. Thankfully within ten minutes a hiker on his way to Lescun drove by and took us up the mountain. We found a beautiful small hostel and enjoyed ourselves in a tiny room in the middle of a rain storm in a village tucked into the mountains.

The next morning we woke up with ease and took our time getting ready. Ryan found out that we are allowed to stay as long as we want so we had some coffee and relaxed. I found a classic guitar in the corner of the hostel and fiddled around for a few hours until we decided to begin our trek. We gathered our things, snapped a few pictures and headed out.

Trail today was mostly a climb. We had to get into the National park and head east towards the French/Spanish border. Hiking was a breeze and brought us so much joy. We stopped often and basked in the sun while we could wondering what life will be like in the misty mountains blocked by hanging clouds.

As we walked we heard bells from cows surrounding the pastures, but never got to close to any of them. At one point, however, we heard a huge clamor on the other side of a hill and as we stopped to listen we saw a huge heard of cows running on our trail towards us and as we began to run away they seemed to follow us and gain on us as we ran. I dropped my pack and ran up a mountain shortly while ryan took an easier route curling behind the heard from the direction they came. Eventually they slowed down and I got enough distance up the hill to feel safe. A shepherd came up the hill behind the cows and waved at us in our embarrassment and fear. The cows took off again down the mountain clanging their bells as they trotted. We gathered ourselves and carried on.

As we gained elevation the sunlight became less common and we felt a chill in the air welcoming us into the heart of the mountains. Right before our first summit we passed a cabin and considered waiting the night their for the sky to clear up the next day, but we were too excited to see what was beyond the mountain to wait. Unfortunately, we couldn't see much.

When we got to the top of Col de Pau we could see the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and how the sun shone brightly and the cows laid in green pastures enjoying the mountain air. On the French side, however, it was blowing winds, drizzly clouds and zero visibility. As we walked beyond the Col the wind picked up and I couldn't even hear ryan speak in front of me and if he were a few feet further I wouldn't have been able to see him as well. There were a few moments of fear when the wind blew heavily while we walked on the ridge line from one pass to another somewhere at 6,500 feet without any protection from the wind around us, but finally we passed the Col and descended slightly into the hills and found the sun coming back a little bit. Right as it did we saw tons of cows and horses resting in an open field with one horse on top of the hill above the rest. It was picturesque to say the least. Unfortunately the sun went away and the wind came back to usher us along.

This time it didn't last for long and when we came up to the borderline we saw the clouds part and fell in the direction of blue skies and brightly lit green pastures with jagged rock faces encompassing the scene. Our trail was smooth and mellow as we walked a mile or so to our refugee.

Our home tonight is in a single bed on the top bunk in a small hut next to an alpine lake. Our bed is one hundred percent smaller than the others and forcing us to curl our bodies to find a way to be comfortable in our sleep. Our bellies are full of cous cous, our minds are full of joy and memories and our bodies are content with minor pains from hiking all day. My shin is irritated for sure and I don't know how long I have until it gives out again, but I'm going to live it up while I can and take it as easy as possible resting in the glory of the Pyrenees while finding peace in myself and all that surrounds me. I couldn't ask for a better place to be in while continuing this journey of self discovery and healing. I feel like I could spend the next 9 days walking 90 feet and find so much joy in how I feel with the calmness in my mind and the contentment in my heart. The Pyrenees have welcomed us kindly.

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