Reub's journey

12 August 2011

Why sleeping with 78 strangers for 2 nights was worth it

That's Refuge d'Amitges -just barely discernible-on the top of the forested ridge in this picture. A few weeks ago we hiked up into the high Pyrenees of Spain and spent two nights there in the middle of Parc Nacional d'Aiguestortes. It's the only way to access the back country of the national park, and the price seemed reasonable: for about 50 euros you get a bed, breakfast, dinner, and a picnic lunch. The website said we would have bunk beds. Fine.

By "bunk beds" they meant a couple of gigantic platforms, with all 80 of us sweaty hikers tucked in side-by-side. Oh my. I was lucky to get one of the end spots, so I was next to the wall with John on my side.

The sleeping arrangement was odd, but what did that matter when you stepped outside to see this?

That's me, dwarfed by my surroundings.
We took a long day hike across the rugged high country of the Pyrenees.

I have never given Europe any credit for having wild country, but this trip changed my mind.

There isn't much wilderness over there, but it does exist in a few beautiful hard-to-reach areas.

You have to be willing to work pretty hard to get to it. I have NO idea why I'm laughing in this picture: punch-drunk at 10,000 feet?

Some of the most beautiful sights in alpine areas are the tough little flowers and clear streams.

The landscape is dotted with small lakes made by springs and snow melt.

This is the very top of Pic d'Ratone, named after the marmots living below it, lucky little devils, to have a view like this every day.

This was the lunch they provided
Yes, well, it wasn't that much fun to cozy up with 78 other people at night, but in the end it was worth it. And I must say that being tired after such tough hiking was the best sedative of all. I actually slept.

Post script: All but the last two photos were taken by hubby. Thanks John!


  1. at least they make sure you're plenty worn out so you don't care about the other 78 unknowns around you! :)

  2. Wow. Sort of reminds me of trying to sleep in the back of the van emptied of seats and made into a platform bed with the other 6 or 7 guides on the way to the river. It was a good thing we were all friends.

    It was always worth it once we got to the river.

  3. Adventure is out there! I loved the pictures. Hope the snoring wasn't too bad.

  4. Mom, this place looks amazing!!! And I LOVE that photo of you laughing. Can I have a copy??

  5. Wow what an incredible journey you are having so far! I am not sure my mind could wrap itself around all that beauty and God's creation. You are truely blessed to be able to visit such wonderful places on this earth! Thanks for taking us with you! The sleeping arrangements...LOL ok that is funny but I guess it wouldn't matter is you were dog long as you had the bottom bunk lol! I guess the bathroom was the same right????

  6. TWG: I WAS really worn out, as was everybody else in that room!

    Ellen: Yeah I bet you were squeezed in pretty tight with 7 people in the back of one van. We were like sardines in that bunkbed, and the only Americans in the bunch.

    B&B: The snoring was definitely an issue. I think a lot of people were getting elbowed by their neighbors.

    Jessica: Sure, take it. I honestly don't remember why something seemed so funny though. huh.

    Linda: The bathroom!!! It was co-ed, and quite a hang-out for a number of the young guys. Weird, eh? And when the lights went out at ten the whole place was pitch black. Once I had to get up in the night and it took me maybe 5 minutes to shuffle my way to the bathroom. Ack.

  7. looks worth it to me, all that spectacular beauty

  8. The gorgeous view there is simply stunning, definitely worth sharing room with so many strangers! But I don't think I could do the climbing, so I think I better just stay at home and 'see' the view there through your photography. :)

  9. What an incredible place! Wow. yeah the sleeping arrangements sound weird - could you sleep? I would have been awake all night, but it does make for a fantastic story, hey?

    Have you ever been to Wales? SERIOUSLY wild, oh yeah!!

  10. WOW. What an extraordinary experience! I suppose that a continent that has been so richly inhabited for so many centuries WOULD be mostly cultivated and manicured by now, would't it?

    Thanks for the vicarious ascent. The only thing I don't envy is the sleeping arrangement. Yew.

  11. Sandra: Yeah! Worth it!

    Jama: It WAS stunning, and worth getting in shape to get there!

    Reya: My worst night of sleep occurred days earlier in Barcelona, in a perfectly quiet room, on a huge, perfect bed, under white sheets. Jet lag. But Wales, no I haven't been there, but that would be a fantastic place to visit. I bet it is rough and wild. Real wilderness in Europe is extremely difficult to find: a distant wild place where nobody can save you if something happens, a place with animals, a place with few paths. A place where you hear no sounds of cars, planes, trains, or any equipment at all.

    Jo: I think you're right. How can a heavily populated place that has been lived in, cultivated, fought over, for soooo long and by so many people, contain much wilderness? It can't compare to the western US.

  12. Wow... it does indeed appear to be worth it. What a wonderful experience.. the days, that is.


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