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 tried to add the photos in the right order. Next time, next year 2020 I’ll be doing the Spanish side.

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 a with 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 id for the GR107 and also the GR367

I took the wrong path at first just after the B&B, following a PR 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.

As always I use my Garmin 5x to record date and the Garmin 64s (this also I use to follow the GPX track) Sadly the Garmin Fénix 5x didn’t want to track the walk so that’s a bummer, luckily I had the Garmin 64s so at least know the kilomètres I was walking

In some places walking was hard work, as it’s very stony and they were slippery, luckily with the I had bought some MICRO STICK CARBON trekking poles, straight away I was glad that I had them, especially as I’m still recovering from a previous broken ankle and both ankles telling me that I shouldn’t have run the 13 km trail last week

The path is fairly well marked, so you can’t get lost, this is pretty much so of all the 100 kms that I did

I lunched at Leychat by 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, couldn’t find the coffee, ate a protein bar as well

Gas canister 100gms, 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 100gm 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’ve slept in a gite, I took the option with evening meal and breakfast, the shower is small but nice and hot, the bed OK, there’s just a quilt and a pillow, no covers, so I’m using my ‘sac a viande’ (sleeping bag sheet) and my pillow on their’s, 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 muddy and sometimes very technical and slippery, I’m really glad that I had my 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 ups and downs that it was paused all the time, needed to set it custom 1.6km speed and the problem was solved, normally the auto-pause is 5km on 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

A lot of the paths are in the forest today, so little sun, arrived at Montsegur, the camping was closed for the season, which I knew in advance
I had already decided to bivouac, and as it was early 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 so continued until she got a message from me saying all OK, then I could bivouac

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

Day2 photos

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

Today’s walk starts 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 though you keep an eye on the cliffs and rocks falls are 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, so took the camping with a gîte (there are several) for dîner and breakfast which is 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 here.
It wasn’t that cold last night in the forest but I was lower at around 650m and protected by the surrounding forest, tonight/tomorrow morning it might 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 came with a less warm quilt

Finally, it wasn’t that cold, though sleeping in long-sleeved T-Shirt and long-legged undies, both merinos but the flysheet was wet from the dew, the sun came out earlier as was higher up and a nicer 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 rather than sleeping in a bed but it was the same price as Roquefixe, where I had a bed and wine (lots) with the meal and better adapted 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 the 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 , 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 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 this 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

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, as 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 but they were doing breakfast, A lovely place and the bed plus breakfast only cost 21 euros

Day5 photos

Day 6
Mérens to l’Hospitalet près d’Andorre

Last day as have decided to stop for now as the weather is meant to change in a day or two and for my very first trek, I think its’s time for a rest, 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 notices that the camping that was closed, and which is at the very end of Merens, I could have easily bivouacked there, as the gates were open

Ankles and knees hurting, but only a little, the up and downs are tiring, am really glad I had the trekking pôles, as wouldn’t have managed otherwise

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, knees hurting, but only a little, the up and downs are tiring, am really glad I had the trekking pôles, as 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 they were indicated as not tested and so maybe not drinkable, though boiled I would think is not a problem, I saw no shops open 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

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