Millie’s Adventures: The Mountains

Hello all! Millie here, back for another little round of storytelling, this time about my recent adventures hiking in the Pyrenees. You may remember my blog post about my slightly catastrophic but equally hilarious attempt at doing a training hike back in April with Hetty and my dad – this is what I was training for!

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For some reason I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of making a journey under one’s own power, be that by sail (technically not one’s own power, but…) or on foot. I never really considered hiking until a year or two ago, and then I stumbled across some YouTube videos about people attempting the massive 1000 mile+ trails in the USA and I knew that I wanted to do the same sort of thing. Obviously the States were a little out of the question, but France also possesses beautiful geography and many excellent hiking trails.

Last year was when I really started planning to make some sort of walk. I decided to do a section of the GR10, an almost 900 km long path that snakes through the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. One of my best friends, Gildas, volunteered to do the walk with me (being an equally if not more curious/idiotic person).

A couple of things were decided for us – first of all, that we would sleep in tents and eat our own food, because going from gîte to gîte is far too expensive for two teenagers, and also that we would start at St Jean Pied de Port, a popular hiking spot, as having recently passed our baccalauréat, our end of high school exams, we were entitled to a free train ticket within the region.

I admit that we definitely weren’t prepared enough, but I know this, so no need to point it out. Neither of our pairs of shoes were broken in enough, we’d never done a multiple-day hiking OR camping trip, neither of us had walked a long distance with a heavy backpack, I bought and (sort of) learnt to used a compass the day before we left, and Gildas’ first steps in his shoes were as we got on the train to leave! With that cringe-inducing warning, please read on…

We set off on a cool sunny morning, promising heat later in the day, from a nearby train station. It took us two trains and then a crowded, overheated bus before we reached our destination, the picturesque little town of St Jean Pied de Port, famous as being many people’s starting point for the Camino de Santiago.

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Once there, we popped into a local food shop to stock up on extra food (Gildas hadn’t realised he needed to bring any food and for this reason we would go through mine very quickly) and ask where we could camp for the night. A young man with a Basque accent pointed us vaguely along the path, promising we could camp beside it, and we set off around 5pm. Our first couple of kilometres led through very civilised fields and hamlets, and we ended up straying slightly off course in order to find the shady corner of an empty field to set up our tents in. Already feeling exceedingly accomplished, having walked for all of perhaps 45 minutes, we cooked some couscous in my tiny stove (13 grams! And smaller than a golf ball!) and settled down to watch the sunset. With rolling green hills and the gentle sounds of cowbells from the valley below, it was already one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever witnessed.

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The next morning, we set off bright and early after applying copious amounts of sun-cream, knowing that the day would be a scorcher. Looking at our map, we saw that the path led towards where the hills abruptly became mountains, and were only slightly nervous.

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For an hour or so we followed tiny farm tracks, up and down small hills, fording several small streams, and having our first encounter with cows (they didn’t bat an eyelid at us). After stopping at a tiny cluster of houses where a gentleman very kindly filled up our water bottles, we started our first real Ascent, promising to be a 1h50 climb to the summit. At first we followed a farm track, already quite tiring, and then the path emerged on top of a hill where ponies, the infamous Pyrenean Pottox (they have a mean kick), where grazing. We spent several minutes trying to find the path before realising that it led straight upwards through bright green ferns.

The next hour was very tiring, and hot, and sweaty, but we also met our first fellow hikers and had fun comparing notes. At the top, we stopped to congratulate ourselves and have a cup of tea, as well as enjoy our first real photo opportunity. It was absolutely gorgeous.

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Afterwards, we followed a track for several hours back down into the next valley. This, while not tiring, proved to be slightly treacherous at times, as it was pebbly and you could easily slip. Both of us went flying several times. After that we clutched our hiking poles more tightly. Oh! The perils of hiking on an almost flat path!

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Around 1pm, we reached the little village of Estérençuby, where the Nive river wound through the trees along the valley. Here, we found a shady bank on which to put down our bags, and spent a couple of hours eating, washing clothes, swimming and of course NAPPING, avoiding the heat of the day, before setting off for our camp ground for that night.

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This proved to be more strenuous than previously expected, as it turned out that the campground was right at the top of the next mountain. However, deciding that we were two hardy and foolish young youths, and also because we couldn’t not sleep, we set off up the mountain, following a tarmac road and avoiding the risk-taking local drivers for an hour. When we finally reached the top, both slightly less dry and energetic than before, it turned out to be another 800 metres to the campsite. The view more than made up for any hardship, however. People really do make homes anywhere – there turned out to be several small farms perched atop these exposed, gorgeous green mountains. Our campsite for the night was in the garden of a gîte d’étape for hikers, and we enjoyed having a real shower and a real breakfast the next morning! We also got to try ice cream made for local sheep’s milk. I was quite apprehensive at first, but the ice cream was actually seriously DELICIOUS; sweetened with local honey. If you ever get the chance to try some, do!

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The next morning began quite nonchalantly, and while we’d gulped at the “22km: 8 hours” mark next to that day’s section, we really had no idea how it would eventually turn out (a think we may otherwise have been too intimidated to set off!).

Shouldering our backpacks, we started our trek for the day, which was quite reasonable for all of about 20 minutes! Very rapidly the path veered up our first hill of the day, we walked up through ferns, cows, sheep and brambles for about an hour before reaching the top of that first, breathing quite heavily. We soaked our hats in water from a barn tap, waved goodbye to the animals, and set off down a path through an uninhabited valley.

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Here we also discovered some very beautiful spider webs and became acquainted with the many butterflies of the Pyrenees. The path wound down through the valley for a good two hours, most of the time (thankfully) in the shade, and we crossed several rivers.

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This was all very pleasant, but I must admit that as we were going down I had the nagging fear that all this would mean having to go up again at some point!

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It turned out I was right. Just after we reached the valley bottom, we turned a corner to find that the path stopped because there was a hill in the way. The path went… straight up. Literally. The first 20 metres were a steep STAIRCASE up the slope! This turned into a miniscule footpath, complete with rolling pebbles and big rocks. Being about a foot smaller than my hiking counterpart, I climbed more slowly, and after an hour I reached the sole tree on that side of the mountain, where Gildas had stopped to take some photos and enjoy a snack. After a few minutes we set off again. I must say that I stopped to breathe probably every two minutes, but in my defence the path really did NOT stop going up. I’ve also never seen so many ferns in one place. For another hour we kept going upwards, clambering over boulders (this required hands because I’m tiny), and navigating what was almost a cliff. I’ve never actually climbed, on hands and knees, up through a forest, but now I can say that I have! It was exhausting, and we stopped to eat the last of our bread and Nutella under a tree. Because we didn’t want to take out our stove, it looked like our only snack between lunch and supper would be a small apple compote each (not very filling at all), and we also started to worry about the diminishing amount of water in our bottles.

After lunch we set off again, but the path was much less steep, despite being perilously close to the edge of the cliff (have I mentioned that I’m scared of heights?). The most dangerous part of the day was when we had to cross a boulder in our path. The edge of it actually dropped off the cliff, and unlike Gildas I was too small to step across the gap, so I did it (most dignified, of course) in a crawl, gaining some fantastically fashionable mud stains in the process.

Five minutes later we emerged at the top of the path. A sign told us that our altitude was 1010 metres, and that we still had 14 kilometres and another four hours of walking. The view was incredible. Our path joined a small road that was perched along the ridge line, following it for as far as the eye could see. In any direction one turned were sweeping mountains and deep, green valleys. In the distance were haze-covered, impossibly tall mountains. The feeling was one of being on top of at-once both very small and very big world. At a small hut found an outside tap to get water from, and a cyclist stopped to copy our idea. I asked him in French where he’d come from, but he only squinted and then said “Espagne” in a foreign accent, pointing at the distant mountains. Up there, on the roof of the world, was Spain. It was unbelievable. We said goodbye and set off again, thinking that the worst was over.

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Unsurprisingly, as you can probably guess, we were wrong.

The path followed a very peaceful, flat, road for about ten minutes. Here we came across a free-ranging ponies and even a foal. Several people in cars were taking photos of them and the view, and Gildas pointed out that the scenery was surely even more special to us, as we’d climbed a kilometre high with our own feet to get there, carrying everything we needed on our backs. It was freedom.

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Then (once again, hooray) the path decided to go up a hill. By now though we were used to hills, and the top looked maybe twenty minutes away. It was a beautiful view, anyway. Gildas reached the top before me, and when I finally got close enough to see his face, he did not look happy. “What? Does it keep going up?” I asked.

The hill had been hiding another hill. “Maybe we take the path that goes down to the right,” Gildas remarked. I examined the markers.

“No, we’re going left and up.” I announced. His face fell. Mine did too, probably.

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Squinting at the distant pile of boulders we were to climb to, we started walking again. The footpath was steep, but it was quite smooth, and by now I’d got the hang of using the walking sticks to pull myself upwards. The path followed the curve of the hill, and the grass around us was rippling and shimmering in the wind. It was beautiful.

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As I reached the top, a distant shape revealed itself. That hill had also been hiding another mountain behind it, and the path definitely went up it.

Gildas seemed quite disgruntled (as he hadn’t brought hiking poles, thinking he wouldn’t want them, and now wanting them desperately), but as we hiked, my mindset definitely changed.

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That morning, I’d wanted to cry and sit down and refuse to move, or say that I wanted to go home. I’d been focusing on how I felt physically, taking breaks every couple of minutes and listening to my own breathing. Climbing up that seemingly endless series of mountains upon mountains, though, something definitely changed. I got into a rhythm, and I only stopped at each crest to drink a little water. My legs were aching, and I could feel massive blisters on my heels, but despite all of the pain I wasn’t tired. As long as I kept walking, I could keep going up those hills at the same pace for hours. I don’t know how I knew that, but I definitely did. I would just walk and walk until we reached our campsite. My legs might collapse, but I wasn’t tired. I overtook Gildas and finally reached the sign and the cairns at the top of the mountain, where the wind was blowing fiercely, threatening to dislodge my poor hat. The view was breathtaking.

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There, the only path led downwards, and we were in disbelief at the fact that it could do so. Somehow we’d walked for six or seven hours, over fifteen kilometres. It seemed like a short and easy downhill walk, but the downhill bit actually seemed to be the hardest.

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The path went down through the trees to a high-altitude valley, and we followed a dirt logging road that had been churned up by vehicles. It was steep, and every step needed to be calculated otherwise one would slip on the loose stones. Previously I hadn’t been tired, but now, bracing myself over and over, I felt like my legs would give out at any moment. They were dead.

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Finally, we reached the road at the bottom, and a concerned-looking man told us where to find the campsite (I dread to think what we looked like!).

We limped into a café and sat down, planning on never standing up again, but it felt like we’d done something incredible. I dialled my mum as we waited for our drinks. Not only had we walked 20 kilometres, with heavy backpacks, but we’d also climbed to the place where the earth touches the sky, and we’d been higher than the eagles. We’d looked down on clouds fro our highest vantage point.

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As someone who does tennis competitively and taekwondo, I’ve done lots of exercise and sports in my life, but I’ve never done so much concentrated physical effort over one day in my life. We were both quite proud of ourselves. Later, we also chatted about how we felt accomplished for having walked that far with a backpack, but how there are people who walk further than that every day of their life simply to go to work and to survive. It was a very humbling experience. There’s a lot that we take for granted.

I’ve never been so glad to have a cold Coca Cola in my life, and went Gildas got up to the pay the bill he discovered that he couldn’t even bend his knees anymore – our legs had become non-functioning sticks. We waddled like penguins to our campsite, and I had to peel my shoes and socks off my blisters, but none of that tarnished the sense of achievement we felt at having done something like that.

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Our final campsite was at Iraty, a tiny green valley high above sea level. A beautiful river runs through it, and several shaded pools are deep enough to swim in. Ponies and cows roamed freely amongst the tents and campervans. I hadn’t been there in ten years, since I was a little girl, so it was quite cool to know that I’d walked on my own feet into a memory.

We spent one final day doing nothing more than swimming and enjoying sleeping and eating in the sun, as well as chatting to several people who arrived after us. We met a man who had a backpack the size of a small purse and who walked at the rate of a quick jog, a father and son who were in their third year of hiking and who had their bags organised so precisely that they carried lists of their belongings and their weights, and two women who were spending their first year of retirees enjoying nature.

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Several people (the majority of the hikers were middle aged or elderly) remarked that it was nice to see young people out enjoying the wilderness and being active, and that made me think a little. It’s true that many people nowadays, especially people my age, are tied to their phones and their comfortable life. For several days, I had practically no phone and wore the same clothes (washed in streams) every day. The only way I was going to have somewhere to sleep and something to eat was if I carried my tent and my food. The only way I’d get to the train station to go home was on my feet. Yes, by the end my socks and shorts were a nice brown colour, I was wearing several days’ worth of sun cream, we were down to eating couscous for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and I had blisters that would require antibiotics and bandages – but it was almost one of the best experiences of my life. I saw beautiful, untouched places, and I met and talked to some really interesting people! It also meant that I had to put up with my best friend and he had to put up with me. We both got slightly grumpy at times, but we also shared the adventure of a lifetime.

I’ve always found that sport is the best way to take your mind off something, relax and feel good. That definitely applies to hiking, with the added benefit of being quite-off from the outside world and experiencing more of nature. It’s sad that people were surprised to see young people outdoors, and hopefully people will begin to realise just how important it is to escape and to get back to where we came from. I have no clue why I enjoyed walking myself into the ground for three days straight, but I really, really did, and I’m itching to pick up my backpack and go off again.

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The most painful and scary things are always the most rewarding. So, if anyone wants advice from an eighteen year-old who doesn’t know much, here is some: get outdoors! Go on a walk! Keep walking until you can’t and then still keep going! I think it gave me something amazing.

If anyone made it to the end of this very long ramble (pun intended), then I’d be glad to hear your thoughts on my adventure! Thank you for reading. I would share the pictures of my infected blisters, but they would probably be flagged as graphic content, so I’ll leave them to the imagination…

 

Until next time!

Millie

 

 

 

68 thoughts on “Millie’s Adventures: The Mountains

  • I loved reading about your adventure. You have both a great writing style and a special sense of humor. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your quite wonderful accomplishment!

  • Wonderful recap of your adventures, Millie! Congratulations! Please come to the US for some hiking soon. There are beautiful trails everywhere and, despite the press that we get, they are heavily used as are our national parks. I haven’t hiked in the Pyrenees yet and so I loved the photos and your beautiful descriptions. I am convinced that a life spent outdoors, hiking and biking, prolongs life and elevates ones’s spirit and sense of well-being. So proud of this effort you made and your success. Best wishes on your future adventures and please be sure to take us along again!!

    • Thank you so much! I really loved it! Funnily enough, when I was planning this little hike, most of what I came across was about the US trails — I would LOVE to get to experience them firsthand someday! Thanks for reading xxx

  • Oh Milly, my dearest Milly….. I KNOW that you come from a terrifyingly sportive and fit family, I also know how small you are, I know it was only just your 18th birthday, but now I also know how BRAVE you are! And incredibly stupid 😉
    How can anyone think to do this kind of adventure without properly being trained for, with just your amount of youthful confidence and dare-devilness? Yep, YOU can, and your equally silly friend. I dread to think what went on in your parents and family’s hearts and minds.
    But then, you bloxxy made it! Great on you. I’m married to a former mountain hiker. He stopped when he got married to me, no before…. long before, but he often regretted not going mountaineering any longer. So there must be an attraction to be nearly alone with nature, God, solemness and to try the limits of your physical strength. I never had that – I’m a lazy bum who is happily sitting with a book, a cold drink and my own thoughts in the shade of a tree…. So I cannot even imagine what went through your mind and body. I do applaud you, reluctantly, though. You are more than just a bright mind and a willful small person. You will go far – but honestly, I already knew that when I met you – you didn’t need to prove that to me 🙂 😉 🙂
    Beautiful writing and some great photos! Lots of love and a big hug from your loving
    Kiki

    • Haha thank you for reading it Kiki!!!! In all fairness, the only way I personally was unprepared was perhaps with my shoes that could have been more broken in — my friend was not prepared though, haha! I can’t wait to do more hiking, it’s definitely very special… xxx

  • Mille
    Many years ago my husband and I DROVE through much of the Pyrenees. What beautiful mountains. I envy you in that you experienced them directly. And that you conquered something bigger than yourself. Going beyond your physical limit and succeeding will prepare you for many things in life. Keep walking wherever your path takes you.

    • Thank you! The Pyrenees are indeed very very stunning, maybe because they’re very old and I always feel like they’ve got secrets, which is strange. I did love experiencing them on foot, and hopefully I get to do more of it! Glad you enjoyed my story x

  • What an amazing adventure Millie, and so well written too! Congratulations on doing this walk and sharing you beautiful photos, the scenery is breathtaking. I hope your blisters are healing! x

    • Thank you Janet, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It honestly was so beautiful, every single day! I couldn’t take enough pictures! They don’t do it justice… my blisters are all healed thankfully, they seemed a bit touch-and-go for a while! Xx

  • Congratulations to you both! What an adventure! I have to admit my feet began to hurt right at the beginning of your story when I read about the shoes/boots not being broken in, but hurrah! You made it. You’ll have plenty of good stories forever from this adventure and I’m pretty sure there will be more adventures to come. My husband does a lot of cycling and has done some multi-day trips which are, to me, quite amazing. I’m more of a walker/hiker.

    janet

    • Thank you! It was an incredible feeling! I did several long walks to try and break the boots in, but to be honest I think it may have been because there are no hills here, and I got all my blisters going up hills with my feet at a steep angle against my shoes… I may change shoes, but I will certainly get out there again as soon as possible! Xx

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully hiking is something I can do a lot more of in the future… it really was wonderful!

    • Thank you! And to be honestly I did see a lot of older people out hiking, I think it’s just about not pushing yourself and enjoying it! Xxx

  • Fantastic Millie. I truly believe that anything, anyone in your family attempts will be a roaring success. A wonderful accomplishment. It’s good to push physical limits; it teaches endurance and determination, I wonder what next adventure is in store for you?
    Enjoy your first year of university and living on your own.
    Ali xx

    • Thank you Ali! I’m not sure about EVERYTHING I try being a success, but I certainly (stubbornly) will attempt a lot of things! My next adventure is probably uni to be honest, it’s terrifying but I’m sure I’ll have some stories for you all! Xxx

  • Wonderful adventure! I’ve done some hiking in my high school days and 20’s. The sights you got to see will stay special through your life. And I remember my daughters blisters from her hiking. Your writing took me right along with you. Your family has a special gift in putting words on paper.

    • Thank you! I don’t think I could forget the images of those mountains if I tried… I enjoyed putting it down on paper (so to speak), if only I could’ve written more! There’s so much I had to leave out or it never would’ve ended! Xxx

  • Oh Molly I feel exhausted!! What a fabulous few days and what an achievement… congratulations and well done on an epic journey and how exciting to want to plot and plan another and another … I dream of walking the Camino … or part therof one day … maybe we’all meet along the way! Great writing and thankyou for sharing your story xx
    PS please say hi to your Mum !

    • Haha thank you it certainly was exhausting but well worth every moment of pain and fatigue! The Camino fascinated me, my dad and I want to part of it together! We met a lot of Camino hikers along the way and many had the typical Coquille St Jacques seashell on their bags — I thought it was a cool detail. Thanks for reading xxx

  • I pray for quick healing of the blisters and that your next hike, for I’m fairly sure there will be one, that you will have shoes that are broken in. I truly loved your photography and being old myself, your ability not to give in to the pain. What a delight. Looking forward to your next hike and post.

    • Thank you Alice, my blisters are thankfully almost totally healed now! I may be swapping out the shoes but it’s certainly not the end of my hiking career… who knows where I’ll go next? The photos were great to take, I couldn’t take enough! Any way you turned was so picturesque and magnificent it was impossible to capture on a phone… thanks for reading! Xxx

  • I haven’t been hiking in some years, but this took me back and reminded me how much fun (and hard, but rewarding work) it is. Congratulations on your accomplishment!! So glad that you and your friend got to experience those mountains and foothills. Quite the adventure! Thanks for sharing it and the photos with us! Xoxo, Nancy

    • Nancy!!!! Thank you!!! It was honestly the best time EVER, I can’t wait to go back again and pick up where we left off! Miss you xx

  • Super job, Millie! We are keen hikers both in France (Massif Central and Alpes, mostly because that’s where we have lived but a little in the Pyrénées too) and in the US -mostly Maine and Vermont with chunks of the Appalachian trail conquered. What you did was magnificent and it is clear it is only the start of a life-long love. It amuses me that people don’t realise just how taxing hiking really is. They tend not to think of it as a serious sport but more of a recreation. As an ex-Olympic rower I can vouch for the fact that it takes guts and fitness, something you clearly have in oodles – along with a way with words and flair as a photographer – nothing much will stop you on this life-journey, I’d say!

    • Thank you Osyth!!! It was soooo beautiful! I went to the Massif Central last year actually and did a bit of walking, hopefully I can go back at some point! When I was researching for my little hike lots of what I found was about the AT, and it helped me plan a lot particularly for the lightweight side of things. Definitely was useful, particularly as I had an idea of what I was getting into… my friend definitely was unhappy during that eight hour slog up the mountains without hiking poles. Thanks for your encouragement, I suppose we’ll find out where I go in the future! Xxx

      • Top tip ….. Décathlon do excellent telescopic poles for much less than you would pay in the US 😉. I look forward to snippets of your journey whenever you want to hijack Mum’s blog and if you set one up of your own, you have a guaranteed follower in me 😊

  • Congratulations. You will remember this fabulous experience. I did the Queen Charlotte Track in the north island of New Zealand. 4 days with my best girlfriend. We were both late 60’s. We did sleep in beds at our age but your descriptions made me laugh as I remembered the same experiences. Keep up the adventures.

    • Thank you! I came across the New Zealand trails while I was researching my hike, they seem beautiful and very very different… hopefully I get to see them one day! Thanks for reading xxx

  • Well done Millie, an amazing adventure for you and your best friend that will only bring you closer together through the joy of distant memories.
    Now get out there and make new memories!

    • Thank you! You definitely have to do it with someone you can put up with, my friend and I are pretty amicable people but there were still times when we tested each other’s patience haha. It’s all a learning experience though! I loved it! Thanks for reading x

  • Did I make it thru’ your ‘ramble’ Millie ? You have to be joking! In spite of the fact I could age-wise probably be your grandmother, I’ll be right back at the beginning of your wonderful achievement in a minute or two to ‘do’ it again: I only get into the Pyrenees annually when the Tour is on and think that incredibly hard . . . . love your journo style: when you get to uni in a short while, could you intersperse your Mom’s wonderful stories with yours . . . I would love to learn about French university life !!

    • Haha thank you and I’m so glad you enjoyed my ‘ramble’! It was great fun to write about and in fact I may just have to give this blogging thing a go myself… not sure how much there is to talk about as a university student but I suppose we’ll find out! Thanks for reading xxx

      • Oh please ! Would be absolutely stoked to learn ‘anything’ at all about being in tertiary education in France !!! Give your Mom an occasional break and us a thrill of a differing post if you don’t as yet feel like going on your own . . . .

  • Oh Millie, what a wonderful young lady you are. So enjoyed your blog, as well as the first one. If only this 80 year old was 18 again. LOL

  • Millie what an amazing adventure for you. I was tired just reading this. Something you will remember for ever. Be very proud of this achievement and Im sure there is more hiking for you to do. Come out to Australia and so some of the hikes here xx

    • Thank you, it was an unforgettable adventure at that! I am definitely going to be doing more hiking, and seeing as I always seem to end up with stories to tell, it’ll inevitably mean another blog post at some point I suspect! I’d love to come and see Australia, not sure about the heat though haha! Xx

  • Wonderful! Super well done!! I especially liked the token sentence for your Dad, about the spider webs and butterflies :-))

    We’ve just come back from Switzerland and now you’ve got the mountain hiking bug I highly recommend the area around Davos and Klosters.

    • Thank you for reading and for the recommendation! I have to admit that we all seem to have caught the insect bug from my dad… I think it was habit just to take photos of all the insects and creatures I came across, although I do love natural sciences so maybe it was curiosity too… the Pyrenees are certainly full of living things! Xxx

  • Cheers to Millie & Gildas,
    Young and not afraid to let your dreams guide you. Keep that spirit of adventure with you.

    I, too, am afraid of heights. So, you conquered that on your hike.
    Bravo…..

    Very brave of you……..and thank you tremendously for sharing your journey with us.
    Cheerio, Patty

    • Thank you! There were some scary bits where one definitely needed a little bit of courage and an adventurous spirit… Gildas thought it was very funny when I panicked and had to crawl on the mud across the rock! Glad you enjoyed xxx

  • Thank you so much for sharing this adventure in such an amusing way! It brought me back to my days of backpacking with my dad when I was a bit younger than you are now. We would go out for a week or 10 days with nothing but dehydrated food (one time I decided to bring fresh apples…dad scoffed at me for carrying something so heavy until it was time for a snack…then he decided I was the best daughter ever) and one set of clothes and climb mountains. It was wonderful, and something I will always treasure. I learned so much on those hikes, about endurance and what my limits are. My husband and I will be retiring in France in the next year or so, and one of the things I want to start doing again is hiking! I’m glad to hear there is an active community of retiree hikers! Thank you again for telling us your story…blisters and all!

    • Thank you and I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! The food was funny, we had to get a nice balance between not getting bored and also not carrying bricks! As it turns out, couscous can be eaten in a great deal of creative ways… but I still think I’m going to avoid it for a while. There were LOADS of hikers, and particularly retirees, so I think that you will definitely find something to suit your tastes… thanks for reading x

  • What a wonderful adventure, and your photos are glorious. Adding another “well done” to the chorus.
    I’ve read some of the history of how refugees during the Spanish civil war crossed the Pyrenees seeking safety in France, and thought how brave they were to do that with no maps or roads. But after seeing your pictures of what the terrain is like, oh my.
    Keep writing.

    • Thank you! I thought about that as we were walking funnily enough… I cannot imagine how hellish it must have been for people who were carting their belongings, children, probably doing it in awful weather and winter, and pursued by danger… hats off to them… I’m glad you enjoyed my story x

  • A wonderful post, Millie, and terrific photos, too. Have you read “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed? She hiked about 150 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone. I think it’s much better to hike with a friend! Enjoy the rest of the summer, and uni, too!

  • Millie,
    Hope it’s not too late to leave a comment. You write beautifully! Totally captured the essence of your experiences on the journey with your descriptions. My favorite line was “so it was quite cool to know that I’d walked on my own feet into a memory.”. Well done! I was surprised to find you saw many “mature” folks on your hike. I would have thought the path would have been occupied with more young people. That is quite encouraging for me. We have found that after having the privilege of seeing a lot of cool cities and sites in Europe that we enjoy the rural aspect much more. Now we travel with hiking shoes so we can get some good scenic walks in. Don’t know if I’ll ever be a camper though as I prefer a warm shower and bed haha! Hope you continue writing (as your photography is also very well done). And hope you have continued adventures!

    Kindly,
    Amelia

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