Next destination: GR11 – The Spanish Pyrenees

For long it has been clear to me that one day I would find myself standing near the border between France and Spain, at the shore of the Bay of Biscay. But instead of crowded and relatively flat road walk or coastal path towards Santiago de Compostela, my own pilgrimage would head east, to the mountains and towards the distant Mediterranean, facing whatever challenge the Pyrenees can throw against .

GR11_Routemap_overview_01(map from OpenStreetMap.org, edited by me)

But on which side of the border, that has been the main question and the answer changing every now and then. As I don’t like that much walking or scrambling on exposed ridges and summits, I quickly excluded the Haute Randonnée Pyrénees, the high route following the highest walkable route through the mountains. After hiking the GR5, walking on French side along the well-marked GR10 has felt like a safe bet, but also less exciting. At the end of this June, I’ll leave Irún behind along the Spanish GR11, hoping to complete the trek from Irún to Cap de Creus, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

The GR11 is a serious trek. Compared to the GR5 it’s longer and according to the Brian Johnson´s guide, includes in total 46km of ascent, on the drier and hotter Spanish side of the Pyrenees. But the trail offers varied landscape, from green hills to a high granite peaks, famous national parks, a visit to Andorra and most of all, magnificient wild camping opportunities.

As usual, unfortunately, I won’t be blogging while on the trail as I try to immerse myself into trail life, to escape from the digital world for a precious while (this is my personal choice and I respect great deal those who see the effort to post while hiking). I don’t posses required electronic devices either. But I hope to be able to publish something interesting before leaving and especially, afterwards.

GR11_Training_schedule_01

Now, I need to begin my transformation from a “couch potato” to a true, light-footed Alpine Ibex! No fancy tricks, just trying to Walk, Bike and Trailrun (trailrunning gives better workout for the whole legs, strengthens ankles and improves balance better than normal jogging) as much as possible, having weekly Football training and couple of Games, and most importantly, doing of ascent/descent drills at the nearby skiing hill (steep, 50m elevation). I don’t plan my training schedule much ahead but just following the progress by writing down what I’ve done. More to follow!

2016_05_19_KAUNIAINEN_training

Next destination: Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Wales it is then! I’m super excited as it has been too long since my last real hike and UK in spring is a great destination. Feeling also a bit nervous as I booked this trip with very short preparation time; only one week to get everything ready and sorted out. I have done sports but not much walking exercises lately so I can only hope my body still remembers how to carry a backpack! Another thing that worries me is the weather in Wales. Prior to my hike Pembroke has enjoyed two weeks of warm and sunny weather. Does it mean that when I get there, it’ll be time for stormy fronts to arrive from the Atlantic, bringing rain after rain?

LDT_Pembroke_01

I won’t buy any maps so having only this guidebook. Navigation should not be any big issue; just keeping the sea on the left hand side! Besides the national trails are usually well marked in UK. My flights are to London, and then with a combination of trains and buses to Wales and back.

Btw, does anyone know if one can get a resealable (Coleman for example) gas canister somewhere around Kilgetty and Amroth?

LDT_Pembroke_02_map

Trail: Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Length: 300 km (11 walking days)

Location: Amroth to Cardigan, Wales, UK

Time: Spring 2015

 

Update 26.4.2015

2015_04_26_Ready_for_WALES

Everything ready to be packed! I’ll be resupplying along the way and eating few times in a pub, but I like to have some portions already with me as well. And nothing beats the finnish chokolate! Btw, the weather forecast doesn’t look that sunny anymore as expected:)