Le Chemin des Bonhommes – GR107 – French side

The following is my 6 day trek on the GR107, roughly 100kms, quite technical sometimes, I do suggest trekking poles, It was done in the second week of October 2019. I’ve tried to add the photos in the right order. Next time, next year 2020 I’ll be doing the Spanish side I hope.

Day 1
From Montgailhard to Roquefixade

It had rained in the night, but not a lot and had stopped just before breakfast

From the B&B in Montgaillard ‘Le Chalet du Pic’ which was not only pretty but dammed good, cheap, clean, comfortable and with a great breakfast. Also it’s only a 100m from the start of the GR107 (for info, the start is now in Montgailhard and no longer in Foix, unless it changes back) this is for the GR107 and also the GR367

I took the wrong path at first just after the B&B, following a small path uphill, but doubled back after 500m and all went well after. From the start just follow the road until a crossing, and then hit the path on the opposite side of the road, it’s clearly signposted.

As always I use my Garmin 5x and my Garmin 64s to record tracks, The 64s I also use to follow the GPX track that I had previously downloaded to it. Sadly the Garmin Fénix 5x didn’t want to track the walk, it kept stopping, luckily I had the Garmin 64s recording as well so at least I knew the distance I was walking.

In some places walking was hard work, as it’s very stony and they were slippery from last night’s rain, luckily I had bought some Leki Micro Stick Carbon trekking poles, I was glad that I had them, especially as I was recovering from a previous broken ankle and both ankles were telling me that I shouldn’t have run the 13 km trail the week before.

The path is fairly well marked, so you can’t get lost, and I had the gpx track on the 64s, this is pretty much so of all the 100 kms that I did

I lunched at Leychat at the church, as there’s a water tap there and a place to eat out of the wind and rain, my first warmed up lyophilisé meal, pretty iffish, also I couldn’t find the coffee, doh…, I also ate a protein bar as well.

Gas canister 110gms, Amicus stove and a Toaks 750ml pan, only 4 mins to warm up about 400ml of water, at the church you are protected from the wind as the weather wasn’t brilliant, not cold, slightly damp and a little wind. I timed the cooking as wanted to try and calculate how long a 110gm gas canister would last.

When arriving in Roquefixade I took the gite there, as didn’t see anywhere that I could bivouac. Not being a real bivouac person I am unused to this way of sleeping for the moment.

First time in my life that I’d slept in a gite, I took the option with evening meal and breakfast, the shower iwas small but nice and hot, the bed OK, there’s just a quilt and a pillow, no covers, so I used my ‘sac a viande’ (sleeping bag sheet) and my pillow. food was really good, as good as my wife’s, and lots to eat and drink. Breakfast just as good, all that for only 46 euros

Day1 photos

Day 2
Started off from Roquefixade at 9h15

From Roquefixadee to Montsegur, the paths were really muddy and sometimes quite technical and very slippery, I’m glad that I had bought these trekking poles

Like yesterday the Fénix 5x was playing up, took hours to suss out the problem, I had auto-pause as always on, the problem was I was walking so slow in some technical sections or up and down sections that it was paused all the time, I needed to set it custom 1.6km speed auto pause speed and the problem was solved, normally the auto-pause is 5km on a standard setup, this is fine when you run or bike, but here the paths were already technical, and with some biggish up and downs, so custom setting to the lowest setting possible 1.6km solved the problem.

A lot of the paths were in the forest, so little sun, I arrived at Montsegur, the camping was closed for the season, that I knew in advance.
I had already decided to bivouac, and as it was early I thought that I advance on Friday’s étape, the problem was that other than in town there is no réseau téléphonique what so ever, and was worried that Sophie my wife would worry not having any news from me, so I continued until she got a message from me saying all OK, then I could bivouac. Should have done that earlier as I added about another 5 kms walking, and in some really muddy parts of the forest.

The Bivouac although OK, but it was in the middle of nowhere, a small clearing in the forest, I was worried about animals. This was my second bivouac ever, so I didn’t sleep to well, all for nothing as didn’t see or hear anything (hearing… as I’m deaf, I would hear much anyway ….)

Day2 photos

Day 3
From Hameau de Pelail to Comus
Up around 7am, had breakfast while awaiting the sun to rise over the hilltops, started from a very damp and chilly morning in the forest. Of course, the water point that I knew was near but didn’t want to try and finf it last night was only about 600 meters furter on. It would have been perfect for bivouacking as there’s a picnic spot there and plenty of room to pitch a tent, Hameau de Pelail

Today’s walk started with about 2.5 kms on a dead-end road. Then the path, totally different from the forest tracks yesterday, takes you into the Gorges de Frau, the last two days walk was mud and forests, today stones and loads of wind between massive cliffs, pretty neat, enjoyed it thoroughly, but kept an eye on the cliffs and rocks, as fallen rocks were everywhere.

As I’d done about a third of the path last night only had about 10k do and arrived at Comus at 12am A lovely place in the hills, it was now sunny, so took the camping with a gîte (there are several) for dîner and breakfast which was perfect, and with a sun at 24 degrees washed and dried the clothes that I’d been wearing for three days, which meant, pants, socks, t-shirt and trousers.

The owner, said that yesterday’s morning was minus 4.
It wasn’t that cold last night in the forest but I was lower at around 650m and protected by the surrounding forest, so tonight it could be fun, as here it’s 1160m and no protection, so might freeze my balls off. For info as ultralight trekking, I had left my very warm sleeping bag at home and brought my less warm quilt, also smaller, taking up almost half the room of the quilt. size

Finally, it wasn’t that cold, though slept in long-sleeved T-Shirt and long-legged undies, both merinos, the flysheet was wet from the dew, the sun came out earlier as it was a nice day so just managed to dry it out before leaving after breakfast

Day3 photos

Day 4
From Comus to Sorgeat,

The gîte a Comus, was expensive, more of an upper-class Gîte, nothing to complain about, sanitaires very clean, food good but rather than pasta it was slices of duck, nice but ill-adapted for sport, I had camped as they have both options, but it was the same price as Roquefixe, where I had a bed and wine (lots) with a better more adapted meal for persons doing sports

The walk starts nicely from Comus flat for a change and mostly grassy until the town Prades, loads of fountains in Prades to fill up with water and then uphill again to 1669m Col de Balagues.

Here at the top, I had a hard job finding the path see as the signs have disappeared, so I wasted time trying to find the right way, after a while. (basically just continue over the top in the same direction for another 150/300 m and then, left downwards towards the big peak, La dent d’Orlu after a while you see maybe some cows and a sort of fencing in the distance, you walk towards that, you’ll then arrive a large path/road (just before you arrive on the road I had to walk through and near some cows, normally this doesn’t worry me, but my trekking poles are bright red, so hid them a little under my arms, you never know, hah hah)
Following the road this that leads you to the refuge de Chioula, though just before it you turn left and the refuge is on the right, I lunched here with a lovely view of what I had just walked, you can actually see the Col de Balagues from where I had just walked, though over an hour ago. After this a more uphill to the Col d’Ijou then a long long very long, small single-track downhill walk until Sorgeat , at 1050 m

I had planned on using the camping municipal a Sorgeat tonight, the camping was meant to be open, they had confirmed me by mail, but there was nobody except yearly pitched caravans, but loads of spaces so I pitched the tent and even used the showers and electricity to charge all my devices up, and all free of charge.

Day4 photos

Day 5
Sorgeat to Mérens

This was a hard day, Sorgeat to Ascou then downhill to Orgeix, a long, steep and technical path with rocks everywhere, at the bottom Orgeix is a pretty village with a river running through it. stopped for 10 mins and ate a protein bar
From here an uphill that lasted 3h30, until the refuge (Col de Joux) that I had previously planned to stay at. Shame is that a long long stretch of this walk is a road/path where véhicules can use, though only 4*4 and so pretty boring. Though the end is nice and grassy, I arrived at the refuge Col de Joux but it was early to stop for the night, which I had planed, so I ate lunch in the sun and headed on to Mérens les Vals, and yet again another big downhill that took well over an hour to complete. For info the refuge sleeps about three to six people, I don’t remember how many exactly, two in the main room, with a fireplace double mattress and about three maybe four in the other room, though it needs a good spring cleaning and TBH doesn’t really look inviting, you could place a tent in front of the refuge as well, drinking water apparently is about 100 m away, a fountain, but I had plenty of water so didn’t go hunting for it.

I arrived around 16h30 at the Gîte de Mérens only to find it closed, luckily there was a young man in front who was staying there and he said the owners would be back later, so chatted with him, until the owners came back, there is big dortoir for about 15 people there was plenty of room for me, but we were only two, they weren’t doing dinner but we were allowed to use a small kitchen to cook for ourselves they were doing breakfast though, A lovely place and the bed, showers plus breakfast only cost 21 euros. This was the only place since I’d started that I didn’t see any fountains for drinking water.

Day5 photos

Day 6
Mérens to l’Hospitalet près d’Andorre

Last day as have decided to stop for now as the weather was meant to change in a day or two also it was very first trek and also the Spanis part starts in the mountains, Next time I’ll do the Spanish section

The walk from Mérens to l’Hospitalet was fairly easy about 2h30, following quite often the train line, only takes about 2 hours, what I did notice was that the camping that was closed, which is at the very end of Merens, I could have easily bivouacked there, as the gates were open

At Hospitalet près d’Andorre I stayed at the only hotel, good food, room Ok, and then took the night train back to Paris

So after 6 days walking, over 100 kms and about 6000m de dénivelé. Ankles OK better than I thought they would be, knees hurting, but only a little, the up and downs are tiring and sometimes there are some pretty technical parts, am really glad I had the trekking pôles, as I wouldn’t have managed otherwise

Most of my equipment was up to scratch,
I’m going to change the tent for a Tarptent StratoSpire1, basically same weight than the Nemo Hornet 2P just a 4 season tent
It’ll have more room for the rucksack and odds and ends under the flysheet but less room inside, but for a one only sleeper that’s fine and I think a little warmer as its a 4 season rather than a 3 season tent
some slight clothes changes, but mostly all was OK , even though I say it myself, I had planned my equipment and food well. You can see all my other post https://minty95.wordpress.com/2019/09/24/going-ultra-lightweight-trekking/

Note that there is plenty of water fountains around, so water is not a problem except Merens where it was indicated as not tested and so maybe not drinkable, though if boiled I would think it’s not a problem, I saw no shops open anywhere during my 6 days hike, but as I had enough dried food this was not a concern, but please take this into account, the villages that you go through are small and most have no shops.

Day6 photos

Please feel free to ask me any questions, or leave any comments, as usual I muddle up my English with French words here and there, don’t hesitate to tell me so that I can correct them.