Lescun - NOT Pic d'Anie

I screwed up big style here:  I got the wrong mountain. 

Yep, that is quite a confession for someone who thinks he's a decent navigator. 

The woman at the National Park office had warned, "the route to Pic D'Anie is very confusing".  Of course, I thought I knew better. 

Actually, I followed the route superbly.  Except I followed the wrong route to the wrong mountain.

What makes this really smart is that Pic d'Anie is one of those mountains you just should not be able to miss. 

It's the biggest lump of rock sitting above the pretty mountain village of Lescun.  As the cliche writers like to say, it "dominates the skyline". 


When we drove through Lescun I didn't see it at all for two reasons; firstly, the low cloud completely obscured the entire mountain panorama and, secondly, the streets were so narrow I was focused on not smashing a wing mirror.  

Don't go through Lescun with a campervan bigger than a VW T5.

We spent the night in the sloping car park outside the L'Aberouat refuge, which is allowed as it's outside the National Park. 

An early start saw us hiking up through woods, then verdant mountain pastures, past two small, unstaffed refuges. 

                                        

The route over the talus was hard to follow, and this is where I made my error. 

I concentrated on the micro navigation, working out how to get from one cairn or paint flash to the next, without looking up to check whether we were heading in the correct overall direction.  

I also made the beginners' mistake of convincing myself that the land around us 'fit' where I thought we were on the map rather than doubting where we were.

Worst of all, I'd left my compass at home, so setting the map was difficult. 

I ended up climbing close to the summit of an entirely different peak, and it was quite an entertaining struggle to get there.

Liz had far more sense and waited lower down the slopes.

I didn't realise my mistake until we were descending and met a party heading up. "Where have you come from?" they asked. "Pic d'Anie", says me. "Errr, no you haven't", they replied.  Of course I grumbled about this all the way down, although it didn't bother Liz one iota. 

She genuinely doesn't care whether or not she reaches a summit, so long as she has a good day out in the hills, and we certainly had that. 

Navigation advice from a local
Iced tea at the L'Aberouat Refuge slipped down a treat over which we agreed it was wonderful to get out walking again. 

We also agreed I needed to buy a compass. 

For the next day we picked a short cross-border hike to a lovely lake which started in the National Park, and crucially, route finding would not be an issue.  

More about that Hike tomorrow.

Where to spend the night was trickier, as Campervans can't wild-camp in NP. 

We solved this problem by simply driving a few kilometres over the Col du Somport into Spain, then turning Le towards the Astun ski station.  

Closed for the season, its vast car park became our campsite.

What's this about? We took our campervan down the Pyrenees this summer, riding classic cols and hiking great walks. Now I'm sharing the info about best campsites for the best rides.

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