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.

13 thoughts on “GR11 – Homecoming

  1. Thank you Antti for your report. Others wouldn’t have been so honest about dropping out (there is always some stupid pride involved in these things). I perfectly agree with your feelings and emotions and – if in your place – I would have done the same. If there is no more fun there is no point in pushing any further. And consistent bad weather is a VERY good reason to leave the trail. After all, it’s not a job, is it?
    Regards
    Michele

    • Hi Michele and thanks for your kind words. You’re right, it’s not a job so fun factor should stay high enough. And how are you, have you been again hiking in Corsica? I heard about that accident in Cirque, terrible.
      -A

  2. Sorry to hear this trek wasn’t to be – but your decision sounds right to me – the mountains will still be there next time!

  3. Not everything goes to plan, but i hope you enjoyed the majority of your time on the trail. Still very much looking forward to the write up.

    It was this blog that partly inspired me to do the GR5, which i am starting next week!

    • Yep, even if it didn’t go all as I had planned, I got nice memories from the Pyrenees.
      Great to hear that my blog has been inspiring! All the best for your GR5 hike, let me know afterwards how it went!
      -A

      • Hi ,, we have just finished the GR5 it was amazing we took the GR52 to the end so are now relaxing by a pool in Menton, we use your wild camping guide it was very helpful so thankyou , we also did a blog ( not all up yet but Amusing notes on each day , http://www..brownandbird.co.uk if you need cheering up🙂 , don’t feel bad on the GR-11 the mountains are for fun and happiness , we will maybe look at the GR10 next so will look forward to your write up .
        Allanah

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  5. Hi Antti. Me and Paul met Rebecca and Barry (wildpilgrims) on our first night in the campsite near Faro de Higuer – our first night on the GR11 and were very excited to hear you are on the trail too! Of course, miles ahead as we started on 26.7 but still out there. You are well know and a legend hiker. We did the GR5 last year and your blog helped us a lot. Especially your wild camping tips were priceless. Thanks for that. We know very well how dangerous storms can be and you made the right call. Reading your report made us realize how lucky we had been – only two storms in 45 days and anything close to what you went through. GR11 was tough – tougher than GR5 but spectacular. Good luck with your next hike! Dasa a Paul

    • Hi Dasa and Paul,

      Thanks for leaving a nice comment! I don’t know about being any legend but I’m glad my camping tips for GR5 had been useful🙂 I agree, I think GR11 is tougher in many ways than the GR5. Cool that you guys were able to hike it through. Do you have any photos online? I’m about to finish editing my trip video🙂
      Best,
      -A

  6. just came across your blog I did some of the gr11 in june july this year ..wild camping from cadaques to torla just after ordesa canyon, the camping part with the bad weather was a bit nerve racking and the route should be undertaken with a lot of respect ,,I can fully understand your decision to stop!

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