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Saturday, 25 May 2019

Holidays in May? Check the weather. (Memories of a Pyrenean hike)

We’re about to take off for a two-week trip to Croatia and Bosnia. We start with a couple of days’ travel on trains and boats (Durham, London, Paris, overnight to Milan, and down to Ancona before taking an overnight ferry across the Adriatic to Split. After a couple of days’ rest we set off on a seven-day stretch of the Via Dinarica (https://www.via-dinarica.org/).

I’m hoping the weather is kinder than on some of our previous May holidays. In 2008 we set off to hike a stretch of the long-distance path that traverses the Pyrenees from France into Spain. We departed the little town of Foix in decent enough weather, climbing through the foothills and fondly imaging this was going to be the proverbial walk in the park:
 

 
 As we climbed higher, things deteriorated:




 
At first we rather enjoyed the high mountain scenery. It’s pretty, isn’t it? Especially when we were able to lunch under the lee of a rocky overhang and absorb views like this: 

 
But it wasn’t long before we encountered some seriously challenging conditions:

 
 
I vividly recall staggering up to that ridge, sideways, thigh-deep in the snow, and wondering what the hell awaited on the other side. Mercifully, there was the odd spot of grey amid the white. And before long we started to see the occasional sign of spring:

 
But, faced with weather like this as we set off next morning, I still felt daunted


However, the thing with the mountains is, they are always going to surprise you. Two nights later, we had this hut to ourselves – cast-iron cooking pot, open hearth, a saw with which to cut our firewood, and of course an utterly fabulous morning, of the kind you will only find if you take the risk of venturing out into the wilderness.


If Croatia throws up one or two moments like this we’ll be more than happy.

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