Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 9: Cold and Windy

September 19: Karolina and I woke up to an absolutely gorgeous sunrise! Brilliant hues of orange lit up the clouds and we couldn't get enough photos of them. However, with the gorgeous sunrise came a ferocious wind. The temperatures, officially, probably weren't all that much different than previous days, but the wind-chill factor was significant.

And once again, we got another 'late' start to day, hitting the trail at around 8:00.

We had an absolutely spectacular sunrise! Very windy and cold, but absolutely stunning!

Before leaving, I took a look at one of the rentable-tents near which appeared to be abandoned and looked like it had been ripped to shreads in the wind. I don't necessarily know if that happened during the night or if it's been in bad shape for awhile, but it was in bad shape. And missing a sleeping pad. I brought the sleeping pad I had found by the creek and used overnight to the ripped up tent, weighed it down with a few large rocks, and let it be. It wasn't my problem. =)

What little sun we had didn't last long before clouds obscured it. Between the lack of sun and the brutal windchill, it was by far the coldest day so far on the trail. The summer hiking season was leaving....

We had a choice of trails today--a high route and a low route. Our guidebooks showed the high route as being a bit shorter and--somewhat surprisingly--more level. The low route followed a valley far downhill then up another valley reclimbing all of the lost elevation while the high route just stayed... high. However, to even things out, although the high route was more level, it was also a lot rockier and the going slower.

But none of that mattered to either of us. We wanted the high route because that's where the views were. The views are always going to be better high on a ridge than deep in a valley which the low route followed, and we wanted the views!

Near the end of the day, we saw a couple of guys walking off trail with rifles and dogs. Obviously, they were hunters, but what they were hunting, I had no idea. Cows? Sheep? Goats?

The trail was rough, and it took us about five hours to travel five miles to reach the next refuge, the Refuge de l'Onda. Which put us into the refuge at 1:00 in the afternoon, and far too early for either of us to want to stop. But.... from here, the trail led up a steep and exposed ridgeline and given the strong winds, we had doubts that we'd be able to find a good place to camp before dark and it was unlikely we'd be able to reach the next refuge before dark. We had reached our minimum goal for the day, however, so we decided to stop despite the early hour. It would give me a chance to read my Kindle and Karolina to rest her knees.

That's me, taking photos of the sunrise! =)

Unfortunately, the camping at this refuge absolutely sucked. Everyone was packed into what looked like an animal corral, except it was for animals--it was for campers to keep the animals out. There were no trees in it, and it was highly exposed. Perhaps the worst campsite so far of the trip. The refuge was located just off the ridge we'd been following all day so it wasn't directly exposed to the wind, but wind gusts were still bothersome. I decided to set up my tarp to act as both a wind break and be able to get at least some privacy from the hoards of people around us, but I had trouble getting it up with all the wind and eventually Karolina came over to help me out with it.

While Karolina was eating some Skittles, she dropped one. Early in the trip, she wouldn't eat anything she dropped on the ground. Lest you've forgotten, she had had two wisdom teeth removed just a few days before this trip started, and her mouth was sore--but she was also worried about infection. So I was happy to eat whatever Skittles she dropped on the ground. =)

Her mouth was still sore and healing, but apparently doing much better and now when she dropped something on the ground like a Skittle, she'd eat it herself. I was bummed about this change in our relationship. And we chatted about the "5-second rule," which I told her didn't exist. At best, there might be a "15 minute" rule among hikers, as long as you know who dropped it.

With the long afternoon available for doing nothing in particular, Karolina drew two wonderful pages of drawings in my journal about our adventures so far using four colors of pens I had carried, down to Polish captions. Funny stuff! =) I haven't scanned it or taken a photo of it, though, so you'll just have to image all of these photos I've posted so far turned into cute little 4-color line drawings.

My real adventure for the day were the toilets--one of those that are nothing more than a hole in the ground. I've seen them surprisingly often, but to date, I'd never actually had to use one. That would finally change this afternoon. I asked Karolina if she had any tips or advice--she's had more experience with those squat toilets than I did!--but she didn't really have any suggestions. "Just go for it!" So that's what did. Another life list item checked off my list. *nodding* =) (I'd have forgotten all about it, except Karolina included that in her drawings--me wearing a buff, squatting and pooping in a hole with the poop--appropriately enough--labeled "kupa." You don't really want to see that, though. *shaking head*)

Most of the afternoon and evening, Karolina and I stayed in our sleeping bags to keep warm. I spent the time reading a lot from my Kindle. Karolina spent a lot of it--apparently--just laying there enjoying doing nothing.

Once it got dark, we finally went sleep.

Our campsite, with the refuge visible just up the hill. In the morning, it looked like it would be a beautiful day, but the clouds soon came and blocked the sun for most of the day.

The going became slow along this section. More of a rock scramble than a hike!

What a remarkable.... cairn? Is there such a thing as a sideways cairn? (And great views of the Mediterranean Sea in the background. We were pretty confident that the town along the coast was Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica and where the airport was that we'd fly out from.)

Just a random horse along the trail. Nobody was around, though, which seemed weird....

Even before we reached the campsite, we didn't like what we saw. That "pen" is actually for campers to keep the animals out. But it was completely exposed and not at all scenic.

Karolina trying to keep warm in camp. That's her tent behind her, and my tarp behind her tent.
The scene of unspeakable horrors.... this was the very squat toilet that I had to squat for the very first time. Fortunately, though, everything went according to plan! =)


Karolina said...

I wasn't doing nothing at the campsite of l'Onda, I was admiring views of mountains and clouds! And I was dreaming and philosophing! :-)

JakeSay said...

how did you deal with the wind-chill factor?i heard that special jackets are good, but cn you say what kind?

Ryan said...

Anything that blocks the wind can help with windchill. They're usually sold as "shells"--the top-most layer that protects against rain and wind. It doesn't even have to be thick or warm. (Other layers do that.) Otherwise, buy the cheapest option you can find. =)

JakeSay said...

Thank you very much Ryan for answering my question!