|Sunflower fields along the GR 7|
|Along the Canal Midi|
I was approaching my first high Pyrenean pass in the evening expecting a quick hop over and a camp on the other side. But I could not see any feasible way to cross the mountains... The GR was routed over a huge steep boulder field and then an incredibly steep trail up to the pass. Not being the most sure footed hiker I hate boulder fields, especially when being alone and late in the evening. But somehow I made it to the top only to find the next surprise. The GR 7 had been re routed and the marked trail did not coincide with neither my GPS track nor my map. Should I bushwhack or follow the trail and hope for the best? Bushwhacking in this steep terrain seemed like suicide and so I decided to follow the markings that luckily brought me down the right valley and to decent camp sites.
The same thing happened the next day. What looked like a nice and easy walk along a stream turned out to be a boulder hopping disaster. 4 km took me 2,5 hours and I felt like Mahoosuk Notch revisited. Again I was way behind schedule. I went through dramatic mood swings: one moment I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness because the mountain scenery was so incredibly beautiful... and then I stumbled across the next boulder field thinking that I should just quit this route instead of risking injury and death by boulder hopping. Part of my misery stemmed from the fact that I just had a sketchy map instead of a decent guidebook with descriptions and times. Things would be better on the GR 11 for which I had detailed maps and a good guidebook. But I still had to get there and this would be tricky.
My French map only showed French trails and there was a gap of about 5 km between the GR 7 and the GR 11. Normally not a problem, in the worst case you just bushwhack. But after nearly killing myself on several boulder fields bushwhacking was out of question for me. Either there was a trail or I would have to walk a long detour. But none of my maps or people I asked could confirm if there was a trail or not. I decided to walk into Porte Puymorens, buy food and try to find a good map. Good plan, but it didn't work as Porte Puymorens had a train station but no shop whatsoever... In my frustration I hopped on the next train to la Tour, the train terminus and border town to Spain. A newspaper booth in the over dimensioned train station brought the answer to my trail question. According to a recent map there was a connecting trail between the GR 7 and 11, called GR 107. Good news since all the GRs are waymarked. I even found a small supermarket and thus fortified I took the bus back. The bus dropped me in a thunder storm that quickly passed.