Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 14 - Estaon to Pla de Boet

38km, 2500 metres of ascent
Whilst at Espot yesterday, I received a text from Jason Williamson of Cosmics saying he would be at Encamp in Andorra in 2 days time. This meant I would need to complete 5 stages in 2 days from Estaon to Encamp, which would be a challenge.

After Estaon the character of the GR11 changes to cultivated farmland, making for easy and deserted walking over the Coll de Jou (1830m) to the village of Lleret. At this point I decided it would be a waste of time to head to Tavascan, so instead cut straight down the hillside to Lladorre and hiked up the road to Boldis Sobira where I re-joined the GR11 just after 1pm.

I was then hiking past Roc de Bataller towards Coll de Tudela when something strange happened. I actually starting falling asleep whilst walking. For perhaps 10 or 15 minutes, I was weaving up the path with my head nodding and more asleep than awake and virtually falling off the edge of the trail. Then suddenly I woke up again, and I felt like I'd just had a deep sleep.

Lots of zig-zags through forest lead down to Areu, where thankfully there was a shop for provisions. I felt pretty jaded, but I knew I needed to keep going in order to get to Andorra tomorrow night, so at 6pm I set off for the final 3+ hours of the day.

The first few kilometres into the Vall Ferrera are on unpleasant dusty pista with 4x4 vehicles hammering past, but eventually the GR11 picks up a muddy undulating forestry trail away from the vehicle track.

I was conscious of time ticking away and impending darkness as I shuffled along through the forest, hoping to get to some decent camping before nightfall. Luckily I timed it just right and popped out at the Pla de Boet meadows, with perfect expanses of flat grass, just after 9pm. And after the usual savaging by mosquitoes, I was quickly in my tent.

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