GR11 – Trip video

I’m still unsure how much to write about the adventure that never ended in an epic way I had dreamed of so unlike before, I decided to edit the trip video first. Although, as my plan was to walk the whole GR11, I didn’t shoot that much material during my time there in Spain. I was constantly thinking that I’ll have time and energy to focus on filming something more interesting later on. Even though this video is compiled of quite random shots then, I hope it will reflect part of my experience in the western half of the Pyrenees.

The video is shot with Sony Cybershot DSC RX100 pocket camera.

Sound:
*El Arte de Eschuchar – Gnawledge
(creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)
*District Four – Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
(creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)
*Floating Cities – Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
(creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

GR11 – Homecoming

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After couple of weeks of walking, my hike through the Pyrenees faced an unexpected end as for the first time, a trail “beat me”. Nothing too dramatic happened, it was more a sum of several things but when reaching Benasque near the half-way of the GR11, I didn’t want to push any further. Simply, I wasn’t enjoying enough. But don’t get me wrong here, the experience was great and blister-free, landscape beautiful and fellow hikers super nice. I was just missing that something to justify the upcoming weeks.

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To be honest, I was afraid too. After reaching the high Pyrenees, heavy thunderstorms started frequently to roll in. Slow to build, they erupted late at night and were hard to anticipate. Most of them were flickering far enough to cause any real danger, but one night me and one Irish hiker got caught right in the middle of a long and furious double storm. Through the night silent flashing illuminated the sky, keeping me half awake until around four in the morning, it was there. A dark beast came unseen from behind the col of Collata las Coronetas and suddenly, I was far off my comfort zone. Camping high up in the mountains we were dangerously close, feeling exposed and vulnerable, lightnings banging all around us for hours. I think for me this, probably the scariest night of my life, was finally the last drop.

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The upper part of the Ordesa sector and the long descent to the Anisclo canyon were the real highlights of the trail. After passing through such a beautiful places, it was a hard call to make and for a moment, felt like a massive, embarrassing failure. In the end it was the right thing to do, though, to follow how I was feeling and to transform myself from a thru-hiker to a section hiker!

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As usual, full summary, photos and video will be added later on. In the meantime, I recommend to read wildpilgrims’ awesome GR1 journal.

Gear for GR11: Cooking, food and water

Updated 9.6.2016

Previously, I’ve been carrying 1,75 litres of water with two Nalgene bottles but for the hot GR11, I decided to extend my capacity with two ~0,5 litre water pouches. In addition to that, I’ll take with me Sawyer Mini water filter but I might leave its cleaning syringe out as I believe the need of filtering water to be rare (passing by enough good water points). For cooking nothing has changed during the years. I still use my 0,7 litre Evernew UL titanium pot, which is just enough for one person, and Primus Express stove.

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The Sawyer Mini feels perfect for water filtering needs; no pumping, no movable (brokable) parts, light and versatile. The only drawback that I’ve found so far is the slow flow rate but hey, are we so in a hurry?

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Already on GR5 I got seriously fed up with the “adventure meals”, even if I had only few of them with me, and found cheap pasta meals (knorr, maggi.. those types) from supermarkets much better value for money. Back then, I also decided to improve my trail diet in the future by taking dehydrated veggies with me. That future is now here after my tries have been succesful.

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1kg of carrots shrinks nicely to 50 grams after pre-boiling a bit and keeping in the oven (50 celcius, lid slightly open for air-flow) for plus eight hours. Zucchinis worked out the same way but no need for pre-boiling.

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A test meal of 1 dl of couscous, couple of spoons of veggies, herbs and cashews made it quite nice trail meal. Before boiling for few minutes, I kept the veggies in water for 30 minutes to regain their shape. Unfortunately, the Kupilka bowl won’t have space in the GR11 gear list and I’ll eat directly from the titanium pot.

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I’ll take at least 3kg of carrots and zucchinis with me, dehydrated into few hundred grams. The rest of my trail diet, couscous, noodles, pasta meals, instant rice, instant porridge, muesli, nuts, chocolate bars, bread, sausages, cheese etc. I believe I can find along the trail from village stores.  Some of the stuff I’ll take already from home but in general I’ll use the same strategy as on the GR5; having all the time food for 3-5 days with me, resupplying whenever possible and eating well when overnighting near restaurants.

Updated 9.6.2016

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So, my dry food bag includes 2kg of carrots (dehydrated), 1kg mix of zucchinis, champs, peppers and tomatoes (dehydrated), 8dl of fast porridge mixed with cinnamon and two big apples (dehydrated), 6 rolls of noodles, 7dl of fast rice and 6dl of couscous. Weighing 2kg in total, these will give me a feeling of security for wild camping but I prefer not to carry more food at a time. How long these will last then depend on how often I’ll be eating in a restaurant and the stores found along the trail.

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Finnish chocolate is the best, so I have to take at least something with me. Those bags of dried soup ingredients I’ll mix with the fast rice and it’ll make a tasty portion. My chocolate bag weighs 1kg in total and unfortunately, knowing my chocolate consumption, it won’t last very long. But choko bars are easy to find along the trail.

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Still missing and bought local are fresh bread, cheese, some sausage, cashews and breakfast muesli. I don’t count the calories intake but try to listen my body and follow one principle – eat as much as possible!