GR 11 Update – walking to the Mediterranean Sea!
It’s time for the last blog post about my journey across the Pyrenees! Before that, I wanna let you know, that I recently started my own YouTube channel. It’s my new baby and it would mean the world to me if you give it a look by clicking here!
We slept next to the road from that viewpoint. It was a windy night and therefore I didn’t sleep that well. We packed up our things super early and started walking in the dark. The trail went through the small town of La Vajol, then followed for a bit down the main road but changed quickly onto a dirt road. After like an hour we stopped and had breakfast in a cornfield. It was a beautiful spot, now we really arrived in the Mediterranean climate. We walked the whole morning along dirt roads through the forest. It wasn’t so interesting, so we kept our heads down and just hiked on. It was getting warm as we arrived in La Jonquera, a town next to the freeway that goes to Barcelona. We weren’t used to so much civilization.
Sara and I were both out of gas and tried to find some gas but without any luck. We weren’t too sad about it, the vegetation was anyway so dry that we were scared to start a wildfire by accident. Therefore we bought more fresh stuff to eat. It was as usual midday as we hiked out of town in the blazing heat. We hiked about one hour to a church, where we had our Siesta break. Just before was a water faucet to fill up water but most importantly to cool off our heads haha. Brainfreeze immediately but so damn GOOD!! We had lunch at the picnic tables and a nap next to them. I must say, a Siesta nap is life.
The trail was for some parts so small and overgrown, that we couldn’t look above the bushes. As we made it out of the bushes the trail got very sun-exposed and the wind picked up. A storm was coming for us. As we looked back it was super dark and we tried to make it over the pass as quickly as possible. Soon we hit a dirt road and the trail went downhill, so that means easy walking. We also passed a crashed airplane sight from years ago. You could still see the small plane in the forest. I saw it already in the guidebook and from YouTube videos. We didn’t go up there because I think it’s not something to look at. It’s a tragedy what happened there and I don’t wanna take pictures of that. But everyone can do what they want, for me, it felt wrong.
It started drizzling on us as we got to some houses. In my guidebook, it said it was a restaurant. So we got excited about something hot to eat! As we got there it was literally one house and it looked like a farm. A bit disappointed, we walked over there anyway because we needed water. It started to rain on us heavily and we stood under the big tree next to the house. We got lucky because there was just a guy walking out, so asked him about water and food. I actually don’t remember what he said about the restaurant. But he was nice and let us inside the house. He had a little cupboard with canned food to sell, so we got some peas and filled the water bottles in the kitchen. That place was so old and messy, it was like a time travel in a different time. That day we planned to stay in the last bothy of the GR11. It was only half an hour from the farm.
The bothy was one of the nicest we have seen on the trail. It had wooden planks to sleep on and a table. We even found gas canisters and cooked our pasta which we carried for days (because we didn’t find gas). Later in the evening, an older couple from Germany joined us. It also had a big castle nearby. I kinda wanted to go and explore it but we were too tired for that.
To the place, I still can’t pronounce
We started early as it was supposed to get warm that day. I love these early mornings! It’s not easy to get up, especially from my warm sleeping bag (called Jack!) but so worth it. We hiked in the forest up a nice open ridge. where we saw the ocean and had breakfast there. We both like breaks and so was it an hour break! But it was not far anymore and we didn’t wanna stress anymore. Since we left the mountains behind the GR11 follows a lot of dirt roads. Which is not always fun, but if you just wanna walk without watching every step it’s nice. The trail descends to a small hamlet called Els Vilars. It has a water faucet which makes us very happy. The water is warm though, but better than none. We decide to take the road instead of the original GR11. It makes an unnecessary turn and we didn’t wanna do that. Therefore we walked another route which was probably a bit shorter. It went into the town of Espolla, where we had our Siesta break in a small park.
First, though we went into the shop to buy some fresh fruits. On the menu for lunch was, Baguette with tomato sauce and canned peas! For dessert, we had a huge melon, yum! We laid in the shade until 5 pm before we hit the road again. The small road went through olive groves to the next village. Rabos was very cute with lots of nice trees and small roads. That day was almost the whole day on tarmac roads and my feet weren’t happy. They hurt a lot in the evening. The region until Villaminscle was full of vineyards. It was a rather hilly region. So different from where we have been a week earlier. It still blows my mind how the landscape can change so fast. In Villamaniscle we camped next to the public swimming pool. I said in my guidebook that they are very hiker friendly. We also had amazing and surprisingly vegan food there! At the public swimming pool in a super small Catalonian village!
first swim in the med!
We heard that fire was in the area of the end (Cap de Creus) but not much more. Therefore we weren’t sure if it was even possible to walk through that area. We wanted to decide when were closer. The trail went on dirt roads until the town of Llanca. It was an easy walk there. As we came upon the last curve there it was: the Mediterranean Sea! We had (of course) a little photoshoot and were super excited. The chances were high that we swam in the ocean for the first time in 6 weeks since the Atlantic. We descended to Llanca and went shopping first. Then we were searching for a not-so-busy spot to sit and rest. We found a big playground and sat there in the shade eating our delish vegan matcha ice cream. SO GOOD! At lunch, we discuss our options because of the fire and decided to take the GR92 along the coast to the next village.
So we made our way to the beach. There it was. We couldn’t hold ourselves back when we saw the ocean and dipped our feet in. The plan for the night was to sleep somewhere at the beach. The GR92 followed on a nice path along the coastline through the villas of Llanca. We got to a small lighthouse. It was an amazing spot, so we looked for a spot to sleep and found one easily. It was a super small rocky beach and people just left. The time has come for an actual swim in the Mediterranean! Just wonderful it was. We had a relaxing evening and when it was already dark we blew up our sleeping pads and cowboy camped. A true bliss!
The night was great! My first night of cowboy camping ever. I’m just too afraid when I’m by myself I must admit. We packed up before sunrise and walked up to the lighthouse for sunrise. Sunrises at the sea are the best. We sat there for a while and then started walking to El port de la Selva. It wasn’t far, so we arrived there around 10 ish and had a coffee before we went shopping again. It’s nice if you only have to carry food for one day and then go shopping again. Our plan was to walk to a secluded beach and stay there for two nights. We are having a zero-day 10km before the end. Hilarious, I think. We had so much that we carried a whole cardboard box full of food out of the store. But also lunch for that day. Our packs were heavy, but our souls so happy and excited about the beach. We got the tip from Chase, my knee trail angel, that on the beach is a well to get water.
It was a warm day and the sun was blazing at us. The trail was nice and it took us about two hours to get there. This beach is only reachable if you walk it or take the boat. As we arrived there it felt like a dream! The water was so clear and blue. Funnily a whole boy scouts group was at the beach. We had some chips and swam in the sea and chilled for the rest of the day. Because it was in a National Park we were not allowed to set up a tent there, so therefore we just cowboy camped. There were even rangers coming by boat to check if there was no tent.
DAY 40 & 41
Our zero day was a blast! We chilled all day, snacked a lot, and did some yoga. All you need. The second night on the beach wasn’t that great. It was super windy and I couldn’t sleep at all. I was laying there awake from the wind and the sand in my eyes. We got up anyway because it was time to finish this trail! The trail climbed steeply out of the bay and it was dark outside. We had breakfast a bit later with another sweet sunrise. Perfect timing. The trail went mostly on dirt roads for the rest. The area was really fascinating because the rock was very unique. We were almost at the lighthouse some wild boar even with a little one. From the lighthouse, it was a small trail going to the real end. It felt weird to arrive there. It’s just done. What now?
I felt so many emotions and it’s hard to describe them. I was happy to have accomplished this trail, but also sad to leave the trail but overall I was super grateful to have experienced this. After my knee pain in the beginning I wasn’t sure if I even make it here. And how lucky was I to meet such an incredible person, my new trail sister Sara!! We had the most amazing time together!
Thank you GR 11, for this great experience that I will treasure forever in my heart! <3
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