Back in France, a few days ahead of schedule, I make the suggestion to Serge that we stop 3 days so the team can enjoy the winter sports and he can run around the slopes. I donâ€™t know why but he doesnâ€™t like the idea at allâ€¦.Too bad !
Our plan is to arrive in Toulouse the 16th so we will take the time go through Tarbes, Pau and Auch before reaching the â€śpink city,â€ť on January 16.
There is bright sunshine with a few clouds in the distance; the first 30 kilometers are run without difficulty, except for the slope which is rather steep.
Once past Soldeu, it is snowing, with a sky white as cotton, which blends with the surroundings and the wind is fierce. Serge and the van go over the Envalira Pass, while I hope to go through the tunnel in the camper, if the hand brake will let me: itâ€™s frozen after waiting an hour at the turn off between the tunnel and the pass. RenĂ© advises me: â€ślet it heat up, kick the rear wheels a few times, go forward, then back upâ€ť and thatâ€™s what I do. It grinds and all of a sudden, bang ! The brake shoes release and I go through the tunnel which is about 3 km long. Then I wait for the team, this time without putting on the hand brake!
-13Â°C, per se, doesnâ€™t seem so cold, but there is also the wind chill factor. Going through Port dâ€™Envalira at 2,408 meters, Serge scowls, we are at the heart of the famous Pyrenees Mountains which we rather dread!
When itâ€™s cold, the hands are the most vulnerable part of the body. Generally, when you run blood does not circulate well, at least in the four extremities. Itâ€™s not unusual to have swollen and stiff fingers when you run for long periods. Sergeâ€™s fingers are white and numb, in spite of the 2 layers he has on his hands.
Rather than suffering these inconveniences, my idea of spending 3 days on skis wasnâ€™t so bad (smile !!!).
The cold has chilled us all to the bone and even though the heating in the vehicles runs on high when we are stopped, it doesnâ€™t warm us. Our feet are frozen and the ends of our fingers are numb.
We are very careful as the day draws to a close because we need our vehicles, and for Serge the end will come with night fall. At just past 6:00 PM he is at the gates of Merens-Les-Vals, paralyzed by the cold.
Tomorrow : Tararscon sur AriĂ¨ge â€“ Foix â€“ puis la D117
Town : Merens-Les-Vals (AriĂ¨ge)
GPS : N42.65031Â° W001.83461Â°