Town vortex and social creatures

HRP days 8 and 9: rest in Gavarnie

I made myself extra comfy for the night and woke up on my 8th day at 9.30am. Ridiculously late for trail’s standards. But I was not to go on trail today so I tried to not feel guilty about it. On a normal day I’d have started hiking at least 3 hours ago.

I was feeling so lazy and didn’t really know what to do with myself. I knew I needed to buy some food for the next stretch, handwash a few clothes, have a good shower and basically rest. I laid in my tent and took a selfie to check my appearance. I looked rough as anything. My eyes were puffy, my skin very tanned and my lips burnt despite my efforts to apply sunscreen. I just hate the thing.

I managed to slowly come out of the tent and zombied down to the terrace where I sat with a few others. The camping bar had run out of pastries and my left ankle was sore. It was a poor show. I ordered a pineapple juice with ice cubes and listened to others describe their plans for the day. I wanted to keep mines to a bare minimum.

After some time I mustered the strength to have a shower. I did not take shower gel or shampoo on this trip. Although I like to only ever count on myself in life, I knew I’d be highly likely to find someone less weight conscious who would have packed full bottles and would welcome someone else using up some product. Jean was that exact person. Result.

I shampood hard and washed some clothes in the shower which I hung on the drying line.

By the time I came out of the shower, everyone had already made a trip to the supermarket and Bruno showed up after being a day behind me. They all offered to feed me so I didn’t have to miss the communal meal to go buy my own food. We had melon, bread, guacamole, peaches. It was everything we’d been craving these last few days.

As the hours passed, the pain in my left posterior tibial tendon grew bigger and I started feeling anxious about the impact this would have on my hike. Jean (not Pauline’s father – another one!) offered some of his bandages and gave me some tips for looking after my newly acquired tendinitis. I was mad at myself and the trail for getting an injury when I’d been so very careful on that long descent the previous day.

I did some trail admin stuff for the rest of the day and also met up with Lisette, a HRP hiker whom I’d connected with on the Reddit Ultralight gear forum. She’d been on trail with her brother but due to a mix of his physical/mental unpreparedness and bad weather, was forced off trail for a while.

I made a couple of phonecalls, booked dinner for the group (professional habit) and came back to the campsite. I felt somewhat both extremely lucky to be around such a lovely group and sad that no one was continuing on the HRP with me. They were all either on the GR10, quitting the HRP for now or delayed. I was craving social time but I had no right to be annoyed because I came here to do this on my own.

We had a nice meal in town (though definitely not as tasty as at Le Mourgat) and as we walked back I realised there was no way I was physically ready to be back on trail the following day. My tendon was still sore. It was 11pm when I made the decision to spend another rest day in Gavarnie.

Today was that day. I did pretty much nothing except for treating my tendon with RICE. The campsite owner gave me some strong medicine to make the inflammation go down, which I was grateful for. I waved goodbye to the last of my GR10 friends and I hung out in the sun, always making sure to elevate my leg. I thought about where those I’d met in previous days would be by now and in particular Henry, who’d headed up a more ambitious route. I felt annoyed at myself for not being daring enough to either convince him to stay back or follow his route. The latter would have been pretty reckless.

Tomorrow I head back on trail and will aim to reach Héas via the Hourquette d’Alans (2,430m). I have booked a campsite and a meal at the only place there: La Munia. I’m excited as I’ve heard the hospitality and food is amazing. I’m hoping my ankle won’t fail me but will be ready to adapt my route should that be the case.

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