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Pyrenees sleeping options

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Panka

returning pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
2016 sept. 4 - CF
2019 sept. 2 - CF
Hi,

in 2016 when I crossed the mountains from SJPDP to Roncesvalles, I saw a small open brick construction on the mountain way after Orisson. Is it still there?
My issue is that I know how difficult the first day is (that time it took me 12 hours to complete), therefore I want to cut the first stage to two parts, but I cant stay at Orission, it is already full on the 3rd of september (however I tried to book it 3 weeks in advance). I know I could go on the road and stay at Huntto but then I would miss the amazing view so it is no option for me.

Question: can I stay somewhere on top of the mountain (in the wild :D ), maybe in that brick thing or even just in the plain field? Is it safe? What are the pros and cons? Is there anybody who did that and can advise?

Thanks,
Anikó
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I know I could go on the road and stay at Huntto but then I would miss the amazing view so it is no option for me.
Sure.

I just read this article about bivouacking in the Pyrenees, it happened ten days ago ... Hautes-Pyrénées: Frightened by bear grunts, two hikers take refuge in a chapel. They fled from their bivouac and walked 1h30 until they reached the chapel where they spent the night, then walked back to their stuff in the morning. They left in such a hurry that they didn't even put on their socks and arrived at the chapel "with nothing on us except blisters".

I think the general idea of bivouacking in the mountains is that you are somewhere sufficiently far away from roads (in the Pyrenées parks it is obligatory to walk at least 1h30 away from any road) and have no other option to spend the night which will not be the case here.

You will be told that you can do it, though ...

The land along the route Napoleon and the structures on them are owned by local people and communities.

I'm not surprised that Orisson is fully booked on 3 September. The first week of September is one of the busiest of the camino pilgrim season in SJPP and Roncesvalles. Hundreds of feet will pound the path every day. Buen camino!
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
You can use Express Bourricot's Mountain Shuttle, and walk up past Orisson the first day, then they will pick you up and take you back to St Jean. The next morning they will drive you back to where you left off.


Screenshot_20190803-075500_Firefox.jpg
 

Panka

returning pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
2016 sept. 4 - CF
2019 sept. 2 - CF
You can use Express Bourricot's Mountain Shuttle, and walk up past Orisson the first day, then they will pick you up and take you back to St Jean. The next morning they will drive you back to where you left off.
I know that option, even Orisson Refuge offered me a taxi drive but this is just agains my approach. I prefer to walk forward and not going back and forth :)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
OMG, I wasn't aware that bears are living in this area and could be a threat. Ok, so it is settled, I am not sleeping outside :D
The Pyrenées are high and long, you may underestimate the distances ... you had already walked through the area and had even noticed the shelter used by local hunters for shooting migrating birds, yet you still asked a question about sleeping outdoors ... so maybe you might get a similar fright from noises at night. :cool:
 
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Panka

returning pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
2016 sept. 4 - CF
2019 sept. 2 - CF
The Pyrenées are high and long, you may underestimate the distances ... you had already walked through the area and had even noticed the shelter used by local hunters for shooting migrating birds, yet you still asked a question about sleeping outdoors ... so maybe you might get a similar fright from noises at night. :cool:
Not sure what you are implying here. Yes, I dare to ask the question, because on one hand it is just a blurred memory of that building, I dont know what it is used for, and in 3 years a lot can change, might not be there anymore. I am trying to familiarise myself with any potential risks, either to brake the law, or as the comment shows above a possible bear attack, or whatever I am not aware of.
You think I would consider to sleep under the stars alone on top of the mountain, if I am afraid of noises? Thank you for the useful comment.
 

samoht.w

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 SJPP to Santiago in September
2014 Camino Aragon
GR65.3.3 2015, 16, 17
Camino del Norte 2018
That particular shelter is an unmanned refugio located on a former variant of the Transparencia (GR11) trail. It is available for use by backpackers and trekkers so you should be able to overnight there.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Again, soon as possible!
I have met pilgrims that have stayed there (in the hut) overnight, and others that have freecamped route Napoleon too. No-one seemed to have a problem.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
There is talk of three different things now in this thread: the hikers shelter of Ourtiga where the two experienced local hikers camped and heard sounds at night that made them flee to a chapel miles away; the shelters that are used by local hunters to shoot migrating birds; the emergency shelter Izandorre on the Spanish side of the route Napoleon that was built for emergencies because too many pilgrims with a lack of experience, a lack of fitness and a lack of proper equipment got into emergency situations.
 
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Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Again, soon as possible!
There is talk of three different things now in this thread: the hikers shelter of Ourtiga where the two experienced local hikers camped and heard sounds at night that made them flee to a chapel miles away; the shelters that are used by local hunters to shoot migrating birds; the emergency shelter Izandorre on the Spanish side of the route Napoleon that was built for emergencies because too many pilgrims with a lack of experience, a lack of fitness and a lack of proper equipment got into emergency situations.
True

The shelters for the shooters have no roof and only three walls though.

I was thinking of the Izandorre shelter, it is pretty well equipped.

I don't recall the Ourtiga one.

Davey
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Also, do check the weather forecast. The weather can change suddenly. You may need clothing and a good sleeping bag to keep you warm if you want to sleep on the mountain. This Sunday (yesterday) the Burguete First Responders had to go up to the Lepoeder pass on the route Napoleon to pick up a group of about 20 pilgrims some of whom showed severe exhaustion and symptoms of hypothermia. Some were in shorts and even wearing flip-flops, says the article in Diario de Navarra. It says that the First Responders team had issued warnings for pilgrims to be cautious because of sudden weather changes but perhaps they didn't bother to inform themselves or had never imagined that such things are common in the area. There can be cold temperatures, fog, wind and rain on the trail, says the article.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I was thinking of the Izandorre shelter, it is pretty well equipped.
Sorry to be so narrow minded but it's an emergency shelter and if people use it as a pre-planned stop for an overnight stay I wish they would just keep mum about it. I tread to think what the hut and the immediate environment will turn into if it becomes a routinely used place of accommodation.
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
If you tent, and if there are bears known to be in area-- make sure any food is outside well away from your tent. All food, and anything that smells tasty (ie. toothpaste)-- keep it outside and away from you. I have read that there is a small population of bears (43 total) in the french pyrenees.
 

Ianinam

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013 / CP 2018
Hospitalera at Roncesvalles:
2015/2016/2017/2018/2019
I know I could go on the road and stay at Huntto but then I would miss the amazing view so it is no option for me.
No option for you because of the amazing views?

Do you realise that these amazing views are not always available for you? If you have a blue sky and amazing views, you are very lucky. The weather in the Pyrenees is quite unpredictable, it often occurs that day after day people arrive disappointed in Roncesvalles because they did not see anything but mist and rain .....
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
No option for you because of the amazing views? Do you realise that these amazing views are not always available for you?
Amazing views is what people read about. When I learnt that 4 blind people belonged to the group of 20 rescued on Sunday, I put 2 and 2 and Google together, found a website that fitted the trip and saw it confirmed, see link posted on the forum here.

This is what the participants had signed up to for the walk SJPP-Roncesvalles on 18 August: a challenging but spectacular route across the Pyrenees. A stage traditionally dreaded by pilgrims, whose strong initial uphill stretch becomes moderate after seven kilometres, providing breathtaking landscapes of soaring mountains and alpine meadows. The stage ends with the stunning descent through a beautiful forest to Roncesvalles.

No mention of potential fog, rain, hail, falling temperatures, a trail that may get slippery in parts or that you may get pretty tired long before reaching Roncesvalles, slowing you down. They, or at least the guide, were aware of the change of weather later on in the day. Apparently he reckoned they would outwalk it in their shorts. They left SJPP at 8 am, arrived in Orisson at 11 am, and by 3 pm the fog had arrived and "it felt like 3 ºC (37 ºF)".

Coming back to the topic of the thread: When it feels like 3 ºC or 37 ºF outside, it will feel pretty much the same inside a small hut. During the whole summer night.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Another consideration for potential free sleepers with limited experience of outdoor life: Don't forget to take a small shovel or a sufficient number of small plastic bags with you so that you will dispose of your "stuff" properly. There is no running water and no sanitary plumbing up there on the mountains. This isn't an issue in places where few people walk or stay but lots of pilgrim walkers tread the Route Napoleon from April to October, with daily numbers ranging from dozens to hundreds.
 
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