Day 2: Turtle and Snail


I woke up this morning with Ryan's head at my waist with his body crossing three empty mattress parallel to ours. In the middle of the night he had moved to give himself more room away from our oddly shaped corner of a bed. I stretched my legs as far as I could and felt my muscles whine waking up out of their contorted posture. The sun was rising and I could see a blue sky beckoning us from sleep. Time to start the day.

After a couple of hours of slowly getting ready, drinking coffee, making breakfast and reading we began our slow hike towards Candanchu. Ryan's feet were in pretty bad shape from a potential fracture in his foot that occurred a few weeks before on a trip to Arkansas and my shin wasn't giving me the most positive response from the previous day full of hiking uphill. We knew we would be taking things slowly which would thankfully allow us to take a lot of breaks and take in the grandeur of the Pyrenees. Many people told us that we had picked the best section of the trail to hike while this section runs the duration of the National Park of the Pyrenees in France. Perfect.

  • Our refugee by a lake.

Trail today was absolutely stunning. We had blue skies with a soft comforting wind that blew the heat off our skin before it could begin to cook us. We walked a beautifully blazed trail running the east side of a huge ridge line with views of the mountains cascading down into the valleys of France. We passed many many sheep again and eventually curved around the side of our ridge line to drop down into the trees. The forest was dense and covered in green moss with a thick understory that would sink up to your knees if you walked in it. We were happy to have some cover from the sun for a while and took a nice break to enjoy the shade and have a tiny naked dance party in the woods.

After we gathered our things we finished our downhill into the Ossau valley and came across a small shepherds hut where we filled water and took a very long break waiting for the shepherd to return to ask if we could potentially camp near the hut because our injuries began to really flare up.

While we waited I found a small creek and read some Lord of the Rings and journaled while Ryan wandered around taking pictures under the shade of his umbrella. Finally the man returned and seemed appalled by our request to camp nearby, but gave us instructions on how to find Candanchu where we could find a refuge. This is where decisions got difficult.

  • This sweet moth kept flying around and Landon on me during my river time.


Right up the hill was a lake that I was desperate to sleep at, but Ryan's foot was in bad shape and in my selfishness I pushed my agenda to get us up the hill without taking concern for his physical condition. We sat for a while talking about what we needed to do and came up with a compromise. We would sleep here for the night and hike to Candanchu the next day. The problem with this was the huge incline in the morning and potential of Ryan's foot getting worse so I suggested we try and hitch to Candanchu to leave our packs and do a day hike to the lake and back the next day. The road seemed too far so we decided to walk to a small parking lot not far away where we discovered the most beautiful waterfall ever.

  • Jumped in for two seconds. Freezing water.

This felt like a reward for both of us compromising and peacefully coming up with a solution for our situation. We explored the huge boulders surrounding the base of the waterfall where the water continued finding at way down the hill through various veins covering a huge area with boulders everywhere. After an hour or so we went up to the parking lot to look for rides, but it seemed we had missed our chance because most of the cars had left and the ones still there seemed to be carrying a full load of families and friends. Unsure of what to do we began to walk down the road in high spirit from our adventure trough the boulders.

After a ridiculously goofy and slow walk down to the highway we found a spot to hitch, but had spent so much time lazily getting down the mountain that it was nighttime so after a few failed hitches we found a camp spot by the river next to an abandoned building called Les Forges d'Abel that seemed a bit creepy with its broken windows, stained rock faced walls and gothic styled structure, but it had been a day and we were exhausted. Ryan passed out within seconds.

It feels good to shake things up and not know what is going to happen. For the first time I feel comfortable just going with the flow and recognizing my friend is hurt and needs to take things slow. Tomorrow we will hitch to Candanchu and try to leave most of our weight in the Refuge while we go to camp at the lake at the top of the mountains. I'm so excited to spend more nights outside and hopefully in more beautiful places than next to abandoned buildings and roads. The Pyrenees' are absolutely mind blowing. I'm excited to see more tomorrow!

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