|HRP - Day 3|
Feeling fairly weary on my 3rd day, I trundled over the Col de Berdaritz and down to Aldudes with a slight sense of dread that nothing would be open on a Sunday morning. I was also slightly confused that I'd just crossed the border southwards from Spain back into France, which seemed a bit counterintuitive since I normally think of France as being north of Spain.
Anyhow, to my surprise and relief the petrol station on the far side of Aldudes was not only open, but had quite a decent supermarket and pharmacy, so I stocked up as best I could. There was not however a tap or poubelle, so I had to leave my rubbish on a table, and walk back into the village to find a source.
So, after much faffing and to-ing and fro-ing, I final located the not-very-obvious steep steps that launch you back onto the trail, but soon had to stop again on a grassy shoulder below Otsamunho to sort my feet out. My 4 smallest toes were now already seriously blistered and painful, so I drained the fluid, washed them in 70% alcohol and taped them up again.
The hiking was fairly easy and pleasant on an open ridge with expansive views. Before long I hit a road and the next few kilometres were all on tarmac to the Col de Lindux which is where you drop back down into Spain to the Col de Roncevaux which has an ugly modern chapel and car park. I re-grouped and re-taped my toes which were falling apart by this stage, and then began a steady climb up an old abandoned road into misty murky weather.
Having seen virtually nobody on the trail so far, I was suddenly confronted with dozens of hikers emerging from the mist. The reason being that I'd just merged with the pilgrim's route Camino de Santiago. In the next hour or so I saw every type of hiker: Solo, large groups, massively over-equipped and massively under-equipped, wearing boots, wearing sandals, the fit, and the not so fit.
The weather was turning increasingly grotty, and started spattering with rain as I turned away from the mass pilgrimage towards Col d'Arnosteguy. I saw a perfect camping spot beside a border stone, but I really needed to get further along the trail so just kept going. The next couple of km was lumpy ground with cattle, so no decent camping spot, however I'd seen signs for Azpegi Refugio, so was tempted to check this out. It was slightly off the HRP down a valley in the direction of Orbaitzeta, and turned out to be well worth the detour. It was a fine unmanned bothy in perfect condition and gave excellent shelter for the night.
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