After a good breakfast and a not so good sleep in the tent due to cow bells keeping me up reality hit very soon on the road. Today is the day we climb our steepest and highest peak! Instantly we were climbing away fom the beautiful peaceful village of Larrau up through dense forests roaring with the gusts of wind which stirred their tops. The climbs were a mix from 8% to 13% and definitely felt tougher than the climb yesterday. As we got closer to the top the wind became stronger as the forest got thin exposing jagged rocky mountain faces. Surprisingly we saw cows horses and sheep happily grazing along the edges of the mountain. The Port de Larrau was our pass from France into Spain.When we finally got to the top the wind was as strong as ever. 1531 meters we climbed.Strong gusts made me dread the downhill. A few breaths with some reassurance from Tom and we began the descent on the other side.
The downhill today felt much better as there were less sheep droppings and bumps in the road. It also seemed the wind was less strong on this side of the mountain.However it was strong enough to blow Toms map and holder down the rocky mountain face.I guess we thought we would deal with being mapless at the bottom. It felt good to suddenly be greeting people with "ola" and " buenos dias". We did it!
Just when we started to relax we began the next climb of the day up mount Laza. 1129 metres !! We had to dig out other maps to navigate the next climb.It felt like we would be climbing forever!! We had entered the Valle de Roncal. This climb felt easier than the col before. But my legs were still aching! Few we made it down.
After looking at the map again and reading about a special medievil town not far we headed to Anso. Just when everything started to feel easy and the roads began to flatten we were struck with another climb. 800 metres. Just as our weary legs made it to the top a few drops of rain started to fall and the sky began to rumble. We had to move swiftly down this mountain to escape the impending storm. We arrived in Anso just at the beggining of this sudden downpour and managed to shelter in a cathedral where a Spanish couple informed us of a hotel near by. I think we deserved a good nights sleep! With luck we found the first ever vegetarian hotel in Spain called Posada Magoria.It is run by the ex mayor of Anso and his wife who fought hard to keep the village in its traditional form.We were well fed with organic courgette soup home made sourdough bread oat and vegetable balls in crushed tomatoes with peppers and a delicious local desert like yogurt cheese mixed with honey. All washed down with some local wine and shared among other travellers.
A lovely couple from the USA kindly donated to the cedar centre. We wish them all the best in their travels and their Organic Berry farm in Illinois.Plough Creek Farm! Check it out! A lovely evening and a good nights sleep to prepare us for the next journey ahead.
Photo 1: Cows in the road
Photo 2: Sarah climbing the mountain
Photo 3: Port du Larrau, from France looking into Spain