Friday, August 10, 2012

GR 11: the decision

As I was slowly progressing down the GR 11 I had to realise a bitter fact: at this speed I would never make it to the end of my hike in time. It had been stupid to already book my onward flight and have a set date for my next adventure without enough buffer time in between. But as much as I lamented it now: it could not be changed. I could only learn a lesson for the future on route planning.

I therefore had three options now: 
  • increase hiking speed tremendously which would be difficult due to the steep terrain. Also this would very much compromise my enjoyment of the hike. There is so much to see and I feel that I need more rest. I was also wondering whether I would even physically be able to hike that fast for the remaining 6 weeks.
  • hike a shorter alternative but there was only one very unattractive option left: hike the GR 11 only until Somport Pass or Roncesvalles and continue on the Camino Frances. This Camino seems the most boring and definitely most overcrowded Camino of all to me. The vision of hiking with hundreds of other pilgrims next to major highways in the blazing August sun was a nightmare to me. I wanted to stick with the less popular Camino del Norte that also offered a nice changer of scenery by following the coast. 
  •  skip a section of the trail which is totally against my principle of a continuous hike. But when I had studied the maps and guidebooks for the upcoming section it had dawned on me that I had already hiked it many years ago. I also realised that I dreaded these next days with thousands of metres of steep elevation gain and loss. My Achilles tendon is hurting and my left knee is making strange noises. I am not enjoying this Pyrenean mountain climbing.
Bottom line: I have decided to skip 120 km of the GR 11 that I have already hiked before. This seems like a short distance but it would have taken me at least 5 days. I will leave the trail at Bielsa, take bus and train to Canfranc and continue from there as planned to the Atlantic Ocean and the Camino del Norte.

I am not very happy about skipping a section but at least I have already hiked it before. It seems the best alternative for me. When I had made this decision it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I felt so relieved that there world not be much more boulder hopping and continuous 2,000 metres elevation gains. After Canfranc the trail does not rise above 2,000 metres of altitude any more. Hopefully I well be back now to easier hiking!

1 comment:

Toñita said...

Hello! first of all I must say it is all in all inspiring to find someone so dedicated to hiking!!
My husband and I are planning on doing our first long hike at the GR11, we are not using ultralight equipment (not much of it available in our country) but we are still ver enthusiastic.
What tips can you give us for this trip? should we cook or should we carry trail food only? how is the weather? in general, anything you can recommend is of great help!.

Than you alrady!

Antonia M-C