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X-PYR: Day 4.

Published on
29 June 2022

Today our plan was set. First a hike and glide from our base for the night. Then another hike as high as possible (still low cloudbase) with the idea to glide as far as possible towards Accous (TP2). These two steps went perfect, and I landed just at the foot of TP2 in Accous. 

A hike up to the main launch in Accous, then a quick meal, and I  launched in OK conditions. Cloudbase approximately 100m above the launch, and I caught a weak thermal that took me to base. Then glide across the valley where I was able to soar on the NW wind back up to base. Jumped over the ridge to the next valley. Flushed down due to lee side, but further in the valley local conditions were more dominating and I was able to continue all the way to the airspace restrictions. 

Now it was all about hiking again. First up to the Astun ski resort then across the mountains to Pourtalet. This last part was really exciting. More exciting than we wanted…

First issue: We just had enough time to get across the mountains before deadline at  21:00. Second issue: There was fog approaching from both the Spanish and French side of the mountains. Third issue: It was forecasted thunderstorms in the evening. We had no time to lose! Maps and routes were downloaded on the phone, extra battery, food, warm clothes, and raincoats were packed and we were ready to go.

This hike was epiq in many ways. The fog approaching from both sides with the sunny high peaks of the Pyrenees above, and a beautiful landscape made it really special. Both me and Knut enjoyed this hike a lot. 

When walking through the fog at 2500 meters altitude we suddenly hear these insane sounds of a predator eating on its prey. It was really close, and by the sounds it was something big. The sounds from splashing intestines went to deep and intense growling, and then suddenly quiet. In the fog. Only a few meters of visibility. Knut and I looked at eachother and we were both really scared. Intense sounds from a big predator this close, without any visuals, and then totally quiet. This was the moment with the highest pulse during the whole race. Definitely!

We slowly walked away without talking to each other. Only gestures. It was difficult to find the path in the fog, but the pre downloaded FatMap route was brilliant for the purpose. Once below the fog and a longer time without hearing any more horrifying sounds we needed to talk about this happening. What the f*** was this? Knut described it well when he said iIt sounded like something from a horror movie. We talked about how we instinctively reacted to how to survive. We both lifted our hiking poles up, ready to protect ourselves. But it would probably not help us much. In this case it would most likely be like carbon toothpicks for this creature.

We arrived in Pourtalet just as the thunderstorms bagan. We found shelter, and cell phone coverage. We had to search the web for which predators were living in these mountains. A quick search gave us the answer that this was an area with the most bears in the Pyrenees. And by the deep growling and intense sounds we concluded that we probably walked by a bear that had just taken its prey. We walked with headwinds and that’s probably why we got that close. 

Nikolas arrived with the van shortly after. A very needed shower and dinner accompanied by a light show from the thunderstorms nearby. A cool way to end this eventful day! And it’s worth mentioning that we did quite well in the competition today.

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