Thursday, September 5, 2013

GR10 // day 38 // Rulhe - Merens les Vals

Distance: 12.6km (744.9km), time spent: 7:15 (293:31).
Ascent / descent: 511m (44095m) / 1646m (43379m).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 2185m / 1050m / 2439m.
Weather: Great.

Today there was a shorter trip, which I walked in a leisurely way. Another day with great weather, but the guardians at the Refuge de Rulhe said we should enjoy it while it last, the upcoming weather was 'terrible' according to them. Claire has camped a little way away from the refuge and I walked over to her to say hello after having eaten a large breakfast inside.

View from Col des Calmettes.

When I left the refuge the prayer flags were swaying lightly in the wind outside. The first part of todays walk towards Merens les Vals started with a climb up to Col des Calmettes (2318m). Pic de Rulhe is now above the trail to my right and I can hear voices in the air without being able to determine where they come from. On my left side I can see the ridges I walked over yesterday.

A rockslide barred the trail above Étang Bleu, seen below, and a deviation was made to get back on track.

Above Étang Bleu there had been a large rockslide and the trail was caught right beneath it, a deviation has been made through the boulder field (marked with cairns) to lead wanderers past the unsecure part you have to pass. I had to do some scrambling over and around large boulders to be back on the GR10 again. There is a nice green valley below the grey field of large boulders.

Crête de la Lhasse.

The finest view of the day is up at Crête de la Lhasse (2439m). Me and a little bird is relaxing next to the cairn at the highest point and enjoying the view. From the top the ridge is continuing further over some green meadows that I very much wanted to walk over, but the trail wants it otherwise. It wants to go down again, and from now on it goes down all the way to Merens les Vals. Further down there are rocks scattered all around as if someone has dropped them over the landscape from high above.

The trail is going across a field with some wonderful violet flowers before I can look down upon Étang de Comte from above. The little lake isn't lying next to the trail, but I walk up to it after having come down to Ruisseau de Mourguillou. Here I pitch my tent so that it can dry in the nice weather, while I eat lunch and relax in the lovely weather.

View back towards Col des Calmettes and Pic de Rulhe from Crête de la Lhasse, a helicopter is flying over the mountains.

When I'm again on the way down alongside Ruisseau de Mourguillou after the long break at the lake I can see Claire coming down from the mountain, so I stop next to the river and wait for her. We walk together the remaining and less exciting route down to Merens les Vals. On the way down we encounter a man begging for food, this is the first time I've experienced something like that in the mountains (I'm out of food so I didn't have anything to give away anyway).

At Étang de Comte I pitched my tent to dry it, while I relaxed in the nice weather.

In Merens les Vals I find me a place at the Gîte d'Etape de Soula which is located a little way away from the center of the place. Claire is a tough girl with a heavy backpack, she is continuing further (but not after we both are having a break at the gîte with some refreshments). The road up to Andorra is passing through Merens. I buy some more food in a small country shop at the place and have a beer at the one bar here. The dinner at the gîte was very good; aperitif, salad, sausages with gratinated potatoes, cheese and cake.

The ruins of the church in Merens les Vals. The outer walls are still standing, but the inside of the church is razed.

Everything is good, except the weather forecast for the coming days, which got me thinking. A thunder storm is predicted for tomorrow afternoon and on the Saturday after there is supposed to be thunder storms all the day. Not good news when you have to cross over some passes of high altitude on those days. But let's deal with it then, now I have to enjoy my time here.

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