I left at 6.30am already this morning to make use of the cooler temperatures. As always the trail made me go up a hill for half an hour before descending on the other side again. Unnecessary to mention that the GR10 (Pyrenean Crossing on the French side) just went around it and met the trail on the other side…

Looking back to Las Illas I have to say again – Thank you for your hospitality. They also do it the right way in my opinion. They are on route of two long distance trails in a spot where many hikers will break for the night due to the availability of water. So instead of having a bunch of hikers camping somewhere in the forest they just offer a lawn in the middle of the town, a water source, a toilet and shower, tables and benches and big rubbish bins right on the spot. All a hiker will need for the night. And they all gratefully made use of the offer. On the other hand the spot looked super clean. The hikers apparently take good care of all the facilities in return.

The morning started out with – mist again. Of course 🤣

Mainly the trail went downhill on a dirt road through beech forest and later past the famous cork-oaks which had been harvested just recently. Time to make some wine 😉

When I arrived in Le Perthus Jacky was already sitting on a bench enjoying cold drinks and also Sebastian arrived shortly after. The two had camped in Las Illas as well and we had dinner together last night. So we had a nice and large breakfast and did some shopping for the day.

We also started out together but once it got steeper the difference in pack weight showed. The two took a break and we wished each other a great rest of the journey and happy trails.

On the map it looked like an easy day after the climb – only downhill from around 1.000m all the way to the sea. But the devil is in the details. The first climb after “the only one” today to the actual highest point.

As most of the time cloudy in France and sunny in Spain. I could also see Canigou in the distance – of course clear today…

Well and then the trail stayed on the ridge again for the rest of the day. But on the ridge there were these many little peaks in between. All open plains, the sun was burning – I think 33C again – and it was a lot harder than expected.

I still had the plan to get to the last water source today and then find a camp spot to roll into town early in the morning. It would be way easier from the logistics.

And then – the clouds came back as every day in the last week.

My mood was still pretty good. I have to admit I was looking forward to the end now. All my gear was extremely greasy and dirty and it was definitely time to wash stuff now properly. My legs were calling for a break and also the last days on roads in clouds and forest didn’t really boost the wish to continue for more days.

But it was also a good feeling if satisfaction. The HRP has been an amazing trail! Way better than expected I have to admit. The photos and everything I had read about it looked promising. But that it had turned out to be so spectacular… Also the stuff I love doing most out there – steep and long climbs in rough alpine scenery – were just uncountable. I camped by myself most of the nights and enjoyed a large amount of solitude. Great cheese and chorizos along the way. A bit of luck with the weather I guess and a few long and hard days which put me into a deep sleep at night. Muchas gracias y merci HRP!

I have to admit I was calculating all day already how long it would take me to make it all the way. And what that would mean to swim, get dinner, find a camp spot and so on. But I also didn’t want to stress and it was better anyways to roll into town tomorrow. But I couldn’t help thinking about fish and wine…

And then more clouds pushed in and the spot were you were supposed to have a great view over the coast and which would have been my place to camp looked like this:

That was just enough. Another night in mist with a wet tent and sleeping bag, no view. I just decided to go down all the way. I had about 10km left and it was 6pm. So no problem to make it. But finding a supermarket which was still open, a restaurant, making it to the camp ground to find a spot to pitch the tent. I started “running”!

It was fun. I checked on the way that the supermarket would close at 8pm. That was the target now. As soon as the trail became more flat again I went fast. Once I hit the dirt road I actually started jogging. It was a great feeling. I could smell food and wine already. I came into town dripping of sweat, all dirty and dusty from the day. I must have made an impression on people according to the way people looked at me. I just had a big smile on my face because I knew the relief was near. THE SWIM! I made it to the supermarket at 8.00pm and they were so friendly to give me “2 minutes”. I grabbed shampoo, a deodorant and moisturizer and went down to the beach.

On the last meters to the sea I met another hiker from the Las Illas gang. He had also just made it and so he accompanied me to the water.

The swim was amazing. I washed if the sweat and dirt of he last three weeks. An amazing feeling. A little side fact I am relatively proud of is that I have managed to not take a single shower on the trail. Dips in rivers and lakes of course but no real shower and no soap. So sorry Banyuls… 😳🤷‍♂️

We had dinner together and a few wine chatting about all the happenings of the trail and the last days. Also if today of course. Way harder than expected. But 50km in the heat are just tiring…

At 11.30 we decided to look for a spot to camp. We went back up to the campground even though they had said earlier they were full. For one I saw enough space to still pitch a circus tent and on the other hand I thought they can’t decline us when they will hear we just walked here from the Atlantic. But as soon as we entered the camp ground a security guard came up to us and said that they were full. We should come back tomorrow. So I told him the story and also that we would only need two very little spots. But he said just “No”. When we asked what we should do now or if he had an idea he just said that it wasn’t his problem. What a prick!

My partner in crime had come down a different way earlier and passed a church about 2km outside of the city – apparently with flat ground around. So we hiked up 2km and 200m again to this lovely place.

The view was also for free:

Found two spots on the side and at 1.30am finally wanted to go to sleep. But suddenly the wind picked up and the tent started shaking and made a lot of noise. Sleeping became difficult. At one point of time even one of my tent stakes came out and I had to get up and pitch the tent again. I definitely didn’t prepare the tent for the worst winds of the entire journey after this lovely evening…

After a couple hours of sleep we got up at 5.30 again and were ready to leave shortly after 6. Just wanted to minimize the risk of getting caught up here. We enjoyed the beautiful sunrise from above.

We still hadn’t solved the problem with the shower yet. No public showers available at the beach or anywhere else. I was in the mood for a little payback for last night… So when we passed the campground on our way back to town we just snuck in again and enjoyed the free showers. And of course we also washed all our dirty stuff there! 💪😎🤣

Now shiny and clean we went to town again, got breakfast and sat at the beach drying our stuff. While sitting here Jacky strolled in. She had camped up and also had made it. We celebrated a bit and just enjoyed the feeling of knowing that we don’t have to walk anymore.

After a great lunch I made my way to the train station and started my journey home…

I guess it will take some time to sink in now… Goodbye Pyrenees and thank you for this great trip! Hugging the palm tree for all the others up there 😉