HRP The Pyrenees 2022

HRP 2022

Down below you read about my HRP hike in the Pyrenees. My plan was to complete the 800 km in one go but for familiy resons I desided to end in Gavarnie, I walked about 268 km in total. I will return and continue my hike another time.

I did really enjoy the hike, the begining was a bit to hot for my taste, about 35 C, but it got better as soon I came higher and higher up. During my hike I learn to know several really nice people who also were following the same trail. HRP is never marked and there excist different variant. I followed the route described in the Ciceron guidebook, Pyrenean Haute Route by Rom Marten. You will need proper maps and trail description if you wish to follow HRP, a navigation app is also something I recommend. You can stay at refugios all most every night if you wish but I wouldn’t hike HRP without a tent. It gives you much more freedom and also for safy resons, I wild camped most of the nights.

Day 1: 12 August: Henday to Col de Lizuniaga

It is a tradition to start with a swim in the Atlatic sea before you begin you hike on the HRP trail in the Pyrenees.

I had a lovely swim about 8 a clock in the morning, quite empty beach, just a few more early birds. When I was ready just all the surfers started to come, I was lucky. I didn’t stay long at the beach, eager to get started.

Before leaving I had some problems getting some money from the cash machine. They where all empty, a helpful lady told me that is often the case. I gave up and turn my back to the ocean and left the village.

During the walk I meet a really nice couple, Keith and Lesley, who also are following HRP, we have since then meet several times.

Later in the day it became very hot, about 35 degree, to hot for walking, I had to move slower and I did take a short cut in the end. I started to get some frictions between my toes, needed to be careful, I probably was to sloppy in rinsing of the sand and salt in between the toes after the swim.

I pitched my tent at a campsite in a green field, crossed the road of a silent restaurant/hostel. There was no facilities accept for some fresh water. I made dinner at the tent, had a chat with Christer at home. The nice couple arrived just after I gone into my tent.

Day 2: 13 August: Col de Lizuniaga to Arizkun

I woke up half past five by the guy in the neighbouring tent who started to take down his tent. Some are early. I decided to get up as well, my wish was to get some walking done before the heat slowed me down. I was ready to leave quarter past seven. Took farwell of Keith and Lesley.

Walked most of the parts on dirt roads. I passed a lot of horses and cowes with bells around their neck. A sound familiar from earlier hikes in the mountains.

Pyrenees horse with a signpost

In the end of the trail there was a heavy climb, heavy mostly because of the heat, followed by an even steeper down climb.

I walked in to Leslie and Keith, we had a nice break in the shade of some oak threes together. They took of a little earlier then me, my feet needed some more air. When I come down to the village Arizkun, Leslie welcomed me with a beer. It tasted fantastic. We walked together to the hostel at the neighbouring village, Arizkun, as we all had booked a room there for the night. Unfortunately there was no restaurant open in the village, so I made some dinner in the kitchen.

The weather changed, there was some rain during the evening/night.

Day 3: 14 August: Arizkun to Aldudes

I had a great night sleep, the weather was perfect, my feet was happy. I had some breakfast at the hostel together with Lesley and Keith. I was ready at nine.

dirtroad in the pyrenees following HRP

I started walking up in to the clouds, it was misty and a bit wet. I came up to a field. There was no marks to follow, just white mist and some grazing cows with their jingling bells in the milky white fog, I was happy to have my navigation app to assist me to find the way.

After I while I entered a magnificent forest. The beech trees where really high and it became even more dramatic when walking in the clouds. I climbed further up, still no clear path. I had a short rest above the forest. Lesley and Keith arrived when I was leaving and we continued together.

Lesley and Keith

Had a nice lunch break together, and the sun came through.

I arrived to the village Aldudes in the afternoon, we had beer together at the bar in front of the church. The beer tasted great after the walk.

There was a campsite in the village located a long the river. The water was refreshing, I cleaned both myself and my cloths. I almost took a swim but the stream was quite strong so I didn’t really dare.

At the campsite I met Tasha and Anika, both hiking alone. Tasha from Australia and Anika from South Africa but based in Germany.

Keith, Lesley, Anika and Tasha

There was a fest in the village, they were serving drinks and some flat bread with local cheese and ham. It tasted great. A group of young men were singing some songs from the region. Very beautifully. They kept on singing all through the evening, I could still here them singing from my tent trying to sleep later on.

Before hitting the sack we shared some wine at the campsite. Another great evening in the mountains.

Young med singing local songs

Day 4: 15 August: Aldudes to Col d’Intzondorre

I got started just before eight. Tasha started about 5 min before me and damn she was fast, I didn’t see her again that day.

Anika and I had some company during the first part, otherwise I walked most of day on my own.

Last part before coming to Roncevalles I followed a road in a forest, I had some shadow but so far the most borring part of the HRP, and it seemed to continue for ever.

My earlier plan was to stay in Roncevalles, a pilgrim village, or at least have some supper before continue. But when I didn’t manage to get any reservation, I desided not to even visit the village and instead I continued on the next day walk (Day 5 in the guide book).

I met a lot of Camino pilgrims heading towards Roncevalles during their pilgrimage to towards Compostella. I confused some as they thought I was walking the wrong way. After an hour of climbing I realised that I must have missed the campsite mentioned in the guide book. I sat down, as I understod there wouldn’t be any posibility to camp soon further on, so either have to turn back to find the campsite or continue the climb another hour or so. I do not like the idea of turning back.

I spoke with Christer on the phone, it gave me some energy. He is my best support. But the call drained my last bit of power in my phone, damit, not good at all. But I had a map of course.

Then I saw Anika coming up. It was great to met up with her and my mood changed to the better. We continued together, she convinced me that we should find a campsite further on. After some climbing we came up to Col d’Intzondorre, and around the emergency shelter we find a nice place for our tents.

A bit windy but with a wonderful view. It was rather late so we pitch our tents and made dinner before going to bed.

Day 5: 16 August: Col d’Intzondorre to Ergurgui

The night was very windy and I went up as soon as it was light and took down my tent. Anika had already taken down hers. We could pack our bags and make breakfast in the shelter. We decided to walk together for the day, we had nice and relaxed walk. Anika try to navigate with the map instead of the navigation app, which is much easier. It was more challenging and I enjoyed it very much and I need the training as well. We did quite well, just a few mistakes.

At a stream we took a lunch break with some foot bath. We hadn’t met anyone the whole day and suddenly first a women from US came by, she planed to walk the HRP in 28 days, doable but I find it a bit insane. Than three Dutch hikers also passed us, they just stoped shortly for a quick chat and then they continued.

We walked for a while with the US women, she was realy an ultra light backpacker with a lot of long distance hike experiences. She was very efficient in her way to walk, only made very quick breaks, she was even eating lunch while walking, dehydrating it during break while filtering water and taking a foot bath.

At the end of the day section at the old Refuge Ergurgui we met the Dutch team again, we decided to camp there as well and sad good buy to the US women it was to early for her to set camp. We had a great evening with the Dutches, a couple (shame on me, I do not remember their names) were hiking with a guy, Eli, they had met on the trail. All of them were also following the HRP. Lesley and Kieth also joined us after a while.

It started to get dark and we all went to bed. As soon as I was in my sleeping bag it started to rain heavily and there was also some heavt wind and tunder, happy we where down in the valley and not at the campsite last night.

Sleeped quite well after the tunder passed away.

Day 6: 17 August: Ergurgui to Col de Tharta

The couple and Eli took off really early already even before getting light. Me and Anika started about an hour later. I was happy to continue walking with her.

HRP trail is never marked, only when it follows other trails you have something to follow so it is important to navigate with a map or an gps device or navigation app. This morning there were not any clear path, just a steep gras slope,

It was tough but we did find our way up the slope without too many mistakes and by only following the map. Close to the top we met a female Shepard. Anika talked with her in French, she wasn’t to happy about hikers not following any path. She didn’t know anything about HRP and we just followed the Ciseron guidebook’s directions.

In the slope Anika found a headlamp. We guest someone of the Dutch team lost it so we took it with us hoping to meet up with them somewhere later.

Further on we past Chalet Pedro, where me and Yrr ones stayed while hiking on the GR10. It had been renovated and was not a normal gite any more, for long stay only. There was a restaurant that you needed to book in advance, we just took something to drink and an ice cream. Before heading of we took a small break on the gras, aired our feets.

We now followed GR10 up to Col Bagargui. On the way we found a place to buy some some really nice mountain cheese. This made us both very happy as we earlier had some failures in getting cheese at other places. There was also a nice place to stop for some crepes etc. We decided to continue and eat up at the Col.

At the Col Bagargui we took a long break, we needed it. The restaurant had just closed for lunch. But there was a small, but quite well equipped shop, they even had fresh vegetables, camping gas and local delicacies. We could sit inside where we also could charge our devises.

Keith and Leslie caught up with us. It was nice to meet them again. They decided to stay the night while both me and Anika wished to move on a bit further on the next day stage (day 7 in the guide book). Maybe not the best decision as the weather started to get bad and the forecast didn’t look well for the next day. But we wanted to get closer to the next day climb of Pic d’Orhy, even if it was very unsure if we would be able to climb it the following day, as the weather forecast was not looking good.

The weather got worse and started to be quite windy. We found a spot, at Col de Tharta, that had great protection from the wind. We made dinner sitting inside our own tents, the rain started when I was almost finished.

It turned out that our campsite was really bad when it rains. The bottom ground collected all the water so when I took down the tent in the morning I was standing in a five cm deep pool of water. Now I no I have a tent I can trust as me and my things was still dry.

Day 7: 18 August: Col de Tharta to Refugio Belagua

The weather was really bad the entire day. There were no visibility, a strong wind and and from time to time heavy rain. There was no way we could climb up to Pic d’Orhy (2017 m), we had to wait to reach over 2000 m. We were forced to take an alternative route.

We had really bad weather the entire day, I was happy to not hiking alone, Anika and I managed to keep the mood up together. There was no way we could climb to Pic d’Orhy, we had to take the alternative variation. We were walking in the cloud for the entire day so even when it wasn’t raining it was wet.

At the Cabane d’Ardané (the end of day 7 in the guide book), unmanned hut, we took a break and had a late lunch and some warm tea. I tried to dry my tent but it was very humid so not really any point. We discussed if we should stay the night. Neither of us was tempted to stay or even leave. The hut was quite ok, situated very nicely in a valley with a stream. It also had a fire place.

There were someone camping nearby. We later found out that it was Tasha who had decided to stay in the tent for the whole day, avoiding the bad weather. If we knew we might have stayed. In the end we decided to try to reach the Refugio Belagua, about four hours ahead.

We continued to walk in the rain. At some parts it was really muddy and slippery. At some place dangerous so we had to be careful. After some hours we finally arrived to the Refugio. They had room for us, I wanted to eat there, Anika preferred to cook her own. At the dinner I met the Dutch team again. Indeed a nice surprise, And we could return the headlamp, they were very grateful. The Dutch group has grown, two girls had joined them, Eva and Dara.

We had a nice evening before getting some sleep.

And sorry, due to the weather I didn’t take any picture, accept for one of myself in the rain, the picture is so misarable, so I’ll spare you that one.

Day 8: 19 August: Refugio Belagua to Lescun

The weather was still not pleasant in the morning, still grey and cloudy. This morning we had some difficulties in keeping the mood up. Things didn’t get better when we after half an hour realised that we where following the wrong trail. The correct trail were parallel so we decided to cross the field instead of going back, we had to do some climbing and we were a bit frustrated for a while. Finally we found the trail and there we bumped in to Eva and Dara, who we met yesterday and we walked together with them for a while. The sun appeared and decided to stay and things felt so much better again.

Anika enjoying the sun

We walked through a stony, barren and overwhelming landscape. We saw Marmots and Izards.

We had lunch with Eli, Eva and Dara at the stream at Source de Marmitou. I dried my tent and let the stream cool down my feets.

We continued down to the village Lescun, a decent of about 1000 meter. we reached the village in time to get some supplies in the store. The camping is situated 20 min from the village. The dutch team also stayed at the camping, we all prepared some dinner in the camping kitchen and sat down together outside of our tent. I fried some fresh sausage that I shared with Eli, to go with my home dehydrated tomato, vegetables, mushroom and haloumi mix. It tasted great.

I had decided to stay two nights in Lescun, I needed to get my parcel with food supply at the post office the next day and I also needed a rest. My feet was quite ok but I had some pain in my knee.

Day 9: 20 August: Rest day in Lescun

Nice to be back in Lescun for a rest day, a great place for that. When me and Yrr followed GR10 we also had a break in Lescun.

In the morning I had breakfast with the others and we took farewell. I will miss walking with Anika but we will try to met up later on and it would have been nice to join the Dutch team, Anika will have great company.

I also met Sandro and Philippe from Germany at the camping, both following HRP and both lightweight backpackers. They had learned to know each other on the trail. They invited me to walk with them the next day, I happely accepted the invitation.

After some washing I took a walk into the village. I picked up my parcel at the post office and sat down outside of the church to write. I haven’t had much time to do it. A guy came by and parked his bike and went in to the church and started singing, nice vocal. Otherwise it was very quite and peacful.

Around 12 I went to a restaurant to have lunch and there I was happy to bumb into Tasha, great surprise, who just arrived. I found out that she was the women in the tent by the cabin the other day. We had a nice lunch and walked to the camping together. I did some repacking and spend the evening with Tasha, having dinner at the gite at the camping.

Day 10: 21 August: Lescun to Montagne de Barnasse

I hiked together with Philippe and Sandro, who I met yesterday at the camping for the whole day. We had a lot of gear talking as both of them also are into ultralight backpacking. A friend of Philipp, joined us up to the Col de Pau.

The climb up to Col de Pau, was great. The clouds seamed to follow us and but we made it up before the view disappeared completely. We had lunch in the sun before continue on a more levelled path.

It was cloudy and you could see mountains sticking up through the clouds, like islands.

The campsite at the refuge d’Arlet (closed for renovation) at the lake didn’t appeal to us so we decided to continue another 30 minutes before we sat camp at a quite nice place with great views.

I made dinner, home dehydrated pasta with vegetarian bolognaise. Tasted great.

After dinner we all enjoyed the last sun before it disappeared behind the mountain.

Day 11: 22 August: Montagne de Barnasse to campsite close to Ibon de Escalar

My alarm went of at 6, went up to back down the tent and to make some breakfast. Ready to go between 7 and 7:30, when it started to be light. This was the normal mountain routin. Philipp always starting a bit earlier than me and Sandro.

In the late afternoon we came to a the ski resort Candanchu. Here we could do some resupply. When we arrived it was still siesta so we sat down at the restaurant and had something to eat and drink.

We refilled some water and left the village. We walked about 1 hour and half and set camp close to Ibon de Escalar. It was late and I was to tired to prepare any proper dinner. I only had a sandwich before getting to bed.

Day 12: 23 August: Ibon de Escalar – half the way up to Col d’Arrious

Started early to climb the last part up to a lake. Nice that we already did some climbing last evening.

Sandor took a morning swim, he tried to swim in every lake we passed.

When we reach the Col de Moines (2168m) we had a great view over Pic du Midi d’Ossau and a beautiful valley with horses.

We walked down in to the valley, passed a couple of lakes.

We passed a sign 2 km to Refuge d’Ayous. Yrr and I stayed there when we were hiking the Pyrenees for the first time in 2009. Read about it here.

We continued further down, much further down. We had an early lunch break at a stream at the bottom before starting the climb up again (1643m). We dried our tents.

It was a long and hard climb, the guys disappeared, I took it easier as my astma was tough on me this day. Still I keept an acceptable speed. The last part was challenging, I had to climp on big boulders. It was exciting and I loved it.

I reach the Col d’Peyreget (2310m), I had a great view. Didn’t stop for a break, continued down to the refuge de Pompie (2031m) were I met up with the guys again. I had some chili. We also met two German girls, Simone and Eva, who joined us for the rest of the day.

We continued a few more hours in to next day stage, half way up towards Col d’Arrious. We had some difficulties to find a good camping spot for everyone, but I think we all found something in the end, I found my spot under a big big stone. We sat and ate together outside the girls’ tent before it was time to crawl into our tents. At least I was very tired.

Day 13: 24 August: Campsite half the way up to Col d’Arrious to Refugio de Respomuso

Didn’t sleep that well, the big stone above my tent, shined through the fabric. The night was warm, the stone probably kept some heat from the day. Sandro and I where the last who left the camp. On our way upward we meet some sheeps with three dogs that guarding them, you have to be careful when there are dogs but they are just doing their job to protect the sheeps. We made a small detour around the herd.

Sandor followed by the three dogs guarding the herd of sheeps

The climb up to Col d’Arrious was ok, still bit tired in my lower legs.

Here I had to decide if I wanted to do the Passage d’Orteig, as it was something you should avoid if you suffer from vertigo. The alternative would only take 20 min more but then I had to climb down and up again. Sandro convinced me to make the difficult part of todays trail.

We met up with the others at the lake before Passage d’Orteig. It was scary but Philippe gave me great support and learned me to find the right technique to climb and hold the rope. It was not difficult and I didn’t suffer too much of my fear of heights. Without my backpack I think it wouldn’t have been so scary. Afterward I was happy and proud that I made it.

Looking down from the Passage d’Orteig at Lac d’Artouste

We took a long rest at the refuge d’Arrémoulit, beautifully placed at the Arrémoulit lake. The guys took a swim and we had some well tasty lunch, similar to pasta bolognese but with chunks of meat instead. I regret I didn’t take a swim as the day was damn hot and the lake not freezing cold.

The lake at the refuge

I took farewell of my cohikers as I had decided to take the alternative route as it would save me some time to reach Gavarnie, hopefully a half day later than Anika and Eli. The idea was to make next stage of HRP together.

Group photo before splitting up: Simone, Eva, Sandor and Phillipe. I will miss them.

It was a beautiful and I enjoyed the hike to Refugio de Respomuso, I past a couple of lakes. It was sometimes hard to find the trail but I navigated with the map and it was doable.

Following man-made paths

When I arrived at Refugio de Respomuso it started raining, quite heavely, and I had heard there might be a storm later as well. The refuge was full but they put me on a waiting list. I was in doubt, I really wanted to continue another hour or so, at least to find a campsite. I met a French guy, Jerome, we already met briefly at the refuge d’Arrémoulit. He was camping nearby and was going to eat at the refuge. Around half past seven I got a bed, I took a quick shower and got some food.

The view from the Refugio de Respomuso was magnificant

Tried to call home but the phone didn’t work and I had no connection since a 24h.

The refuge was crowded. I slept in a room with a lot of people. There was very hot and no air, so it was hard to sleep. It was just awful, I regret my decision to stay in the refuge, it would have been much better in my own tent. Lesson to learn.

Day 14: 25 August: Refugio de Respomuso to Lac d’Arratille

I went up at six and was ready to walk just after seven. I wanted to reach Refuge Walloon around 11 as there was a storm expected in the middle of the day.

On my way up to Col de la Fache (2664m) I met Jerome again. He was in a bad mood as he had followed some wrong paths during the morning.

It was hard for me to reach the col, struggling with the astma. A group/family of 10 people invited me for a coffe break at the lake but I continued. They probably thought I needed a break.

Passed Lac Col de la Fache just before the last climb up to Col de la Fache (2664m)

At the col everything was fine again and I continued directly down. On my down I surpisingly run into Tasha, who was on her way up to climb the summit of de la Fache. We talked a bit and hope we would meet further ahead again, maybe already in Gavarnie.

On my way down from the Col de la Fache (2664m)

I made company with Jerome down to the refuge Wallon. We had some lunch together, biff stew with rise, quite nice. Decided to continue a bit together.

It started to rain and it was a bit cold. But there were no storm. We decided to move on. We had a quick stop at the stream, I clean some clothes and had a refreshing foot bath. Jerome had a swim.

Stream in the Pyrenees

We discussed to stop and camp at Lac d’Arratille, higher up, 1,35 h a head. But it was also tempting to continue another 2 1/2–3 hours over the two cols, Col d’Arratille (2528m) and Col du Mulets (2591m) and set camp down at De Gaube, which is a very nice place to camp. But the weather didn’t look promesing and the climb and descend shouldn’t be done in bad weather and the weather forecast was not on our side. At the moment the weather was sunny but things change fast in the mountains.

Jerome decided to move on, I decided to stay above the lac, it was a nice place to stay the night and I didn’t want to take the risk to get trapped high up in the mountain in bad weather and I was also a bit tired.

While setting up my tent the cloud started to gather, I had made the right decision, but it made me worry about Jerome. Luckily on his way up to the col he met some other hikers heading down and they adviced him to turn back. At first it didn’t rain much but after a while we had a lot of rain, hard wind, hale, and even thunder. It lasted for an hour. I got some rest in my tent in the meanwhile, almost got to sleep. After the storm it was ok weather again. We ate dinner together before saying good night.

After the storm I got some company…