May 21th, 2014: Today was Day 20… Epic! Pyrenees Take Deux…

By Eric

Hiking the Pyrenees was such an amazing and multifaceted day, that on yesterday’s blog post, I decided to make a much longer than usual video. I kept my writing to a minimum, and I did not post any photos. But without the addition of photos, I would be doing an injustice in depicting yesterday’s grueling venture into the guts and bowels of the nature of the beast!

Hiking from France and up to some of the highest points of the Pyrenees Mountains and then down into Spain, in torrential rain, painful hail, violent thunder, and dangerous lightning was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

So today, even though we hiked from Roncesvalles to Zubiri, and it, in and of itself was a strange, grueling, and wonderful day, I am posting a photo essay of yesterday’s EPIC adventure.

We arrive in Pamplona in two days and will be spending about a week there, so I know I have time to catch up with writing about today’s hike to Zubiri.

So instead, here are (just SOME!) of the awesome views we had yesterday.

We attempted a summit of the highest point of the Pyrenees in extreme weather: torrential rain, painful hail, and dangerous lightning, that at one point seemed to strike adjacent to us.

We attempted a summit of the highest point of the Pyrenees in extreme weather: torrential rain, painful hail, and dangerous lightning, that at one point seemed to strike adjacent to us.

Pyrenees 1; Pilgrims 0. Soaked and miserable, almost everyone returned to Refuge Orisson to wait out the miserable and unpredictable conditions. The coffee was hot, and our refuge hosts were playing Johnny Cash songs to bide the time.

Pyrenees 1; Pilgrims 0. Soaked and miserable, almost everyone returned to Refuge Orisson to wait out the miserable and unpredictable conditions. The coffee was hot, and our refuge hosts were playing Johnny Cash songs to bide the time.

Some pilgrims ultimately made the decision to cancel their attempt of the summit altogether. They hired a professional car. It was a solemn moment for many, grappling with perceptions of safety versus potential danger. Commitment to the hike was at stake for everyone.

Some pilgrims ultimately made the decision to cancel their attempt of the summit altogether. They hired a professional car. It was a solemn moment for many, grappling with perceptions of safety versus potential danger. Commitment to the hike was at stake for everyone.

Shannon and I believed it would be an exhausting and difficult day. But we decided we could skip the taxi and safely conquer the mountain. After some serious gut checks and nothing but our pack on our back, rain gear covering our body, and our trusty trekking poles, we pushed forward.

Shannon and I believed it would be an exhausting and difficult day. But we decided we could skip the taxi and safely conquer the mountain. After some serious gut checks and nothing but our pack on our back, rain gear covering our body, and our trusty trekking poles, we pushed forward.

There was grumbling in the clouds and from Shannon. But it was thrilling as well. We were pushing forward slowly on a mountain with very little visibility.

There was grumbling in the clouds and from Shannon. But it was thrilling as well. We were pushing forward slowly on a mountain with very little visibility.

This was the first of many panorama shots for the day. What a glorious day it was!

This was the first of many panorama shots for the day. What a glorious day it was!

If you are going to take a selfie, make it an epic selfie :)

If you are going to take a selfie, make it an epic selfie 🙂

This was not a problem with leveling my camera to the horizon. Those mountain sheep are actually grazing on a steep incline.

This was not a problem with leveling my camera to the horizon. Those mountain sheep are actually grazing on a steep incline.

Today, we chose the road less traveled.

Today, we chose the road less traveled.

Near the top of the mountain, people huddled in the cold, crisp wind at a food truck. The driver makes the journey 9 months out of the year to sell coffee, soda, fruit, yogurt, and boiled eggs to weary pilgrims.

Near the top of the mountain, people huddled in the cold, crisp wind at a food truck. The driver makes the journey 9 months out of the year to sell coffee, soda, fruit, yogurt, and boiled eggs to weary pilgrims.

I don't always hike in alpine conditions. But when I do, I prefer Dos trekking poles.

I don’t always hike in alpine conditions. But when I do, I prefer Dos trekking poles.

Shannon is officially my favorite mountaineering bad @ss.

Shannon is officially my favorite mountaineering bad @ss.

We saw religious icons placed in some extremely remote and difficult to get to areas.

We saw religious icons placed in some extremely remote and difficult to get to areas.

Endless uphill treks were the order of the day.

Endless uphill treks were the order of the day.

And sometimes, we had to climb practically straight up.

And sometimes, we had to climb practically straight up.

We did whatever we could to stay warm and dry. Even though the ice and hail was melting, the extreme winds kept the conditions quite frigid.

We did whatever we could to stay warm and dry. Even though the ice and hail was melting, the extreme winds kept the conditions quite frigid.

The day dragged on, but the adventure was non-stop. This was the final sign we saw within the officially “French” area of the mountains.

The day dragged on, but the adventure was non-stop. This was the final sign we saw within the officially “French” area of the mountains.

In the movie, The Way, Martin Sheen walks by a sign that says “España.” We never saw that sign, but we were fairly positive this was the first official sign in Spain. ¡Viva España!

In the movie, The Way, Martin Sheen walks by a sign that says “España.” We never saw that sign, but we were fairly positive this was the first official sign in Spain. ¡Viva España!

More than halfway thru the day, and there were still mounds of hail along the trails- in late May!

More than halfway thru the day, and there were still mounds of hail along the trails- in late May!

At one point, during a particularly steep incline, I got about one hour ahead of Shannon on our hike. I was cold, exhausted, and hungry. Too tired to care about anything, I slept for a while while I waited for Shannon to catch up. It was a restless sleep.

At one point, during a particularly steep incline, I got about one hour ahead of Shannon on our hike. I was cold, exhausted, and hungry. Too tired to care about anything, I slept for a while while I waited for Shannon to catch up. It was a restless sleep.

After Shannon caught up with me, we began our long, painful descent down the other side of the mountain. Our pilgrim’s albergue is visible near the upper right corner. We never would have imagined at this point, that it would still take us about two hours to finally arrive.

After Shannon caught up with me, we began our long, painful descent down the other side of the mountain. Our pilgrim’s albergue is visible near the upper right corner. We never would have imagined at this point, that it would still take us about two hours to finally arrive.

It was considerably less cold on the other side of the mountain, but it still rained incessantly. Shannon fought the pain that the frigid weather caused her fingers most of the day.

It was considerably less cold on the other side of the mountain, but it still rained incessantly. Shannon fought the pain that the frigid weather caused her fingers most of the day.

Enough already with the epic panoramas! It’s like nature’s porn.

Enough already with the epic panoramas! It’s like nature’s porn.

We conquered the Pyrenees Mountains. What a beautiful moment etched into our memories forever. Now, just 790 dang-blasted kilometers to go!

We conquered the Pyrenees Mountains. What a beautiful moment etched into our memories forever. Now, just 790 dang-blasted kilometers to go!

Distance: 33,151 Steps/ 16.47 Miles/ 26.51 Kilometers
Location: Roncesvalles, Spain to Zubiri, Spain

Feeling inspired by our journey? Please consider donating to The Passport Party Project. Your contribution will help 10 young girls, get their first passport and go on their first international trip! Go here to donate and find out more.

email

One Response to May 21th, 2014: Today was Day 20… Epic! Pyrenees Take Deux…

  1. Eileen W. Eisner says:

    Sooooooo happy to read another day of y’all’s blog! I love reading what is happening with y’all!

Leave a reply