After the previous 2 gruelling days to get to Encamp, I was hoping for something slightly less challenging today.
We had a nice slow start to the day with cereal and coffee on the campsite, and then I needed to wait until 9am before the supermarket in town opened before we could head up the hill. Jason joined me for the first 50 minutes up to the big lake, Estany d'Engolasters, before heading back to his family to begin the drive across France.
The trail for the next few hours was nice and easy all the way to Cabana dels Esparvers, lulling me into a false sense of security.
I took a break beside the Riu d'Engait before starting the 600m climb to Portella d'Engorgs 2680m. As I gained height, the sky turned dark grey and rumbling thunder began echoing between the peaks. The spits and spots of rain suddenly began a full-on downpour, which suddenly turned into battering hail. I was still climbing towards the col getting pelted by the mix of rain and hail, with no options for shelter or escape. I wasn't enjoying getting quite so wet and cold, and was surprised when I reached the col that a vertical cornice of snow was barring any obvious descent on the other side. I could have done without this added complication, but I managed to find a point of weakness in the cornice where I could scramble down some steep rocks with water and hail gushing down the hillside.
The hills suddenly take on a different complexion in this weather. I descended to Refugi Engorgs, and discovered it was a filthy bothy, so no use for getting any shelter, but by now the rain had stopped so I carried on as far as the Refugi de Malniu, albeit with soggy wet shoes.
I didn't like the look of the Malniu area at all. It was at a road head with lots of dodgy looking people with nasty looking dogs, so I just kept walking until I was back in the forest and well away from the road.
I was feeling exhausted from the hammering from the afternoon storm, so just found the first suitable bit of flat ground and got eaten alive by mosquitoes as I tried to get the tent up.
This was without doubt one of the most unpleasant nights of the trip, being stuck in the tent with sopping wet gear, and the air outside thick with mosquitoes.
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