Preparing to cross the Pyrenees

In a few days I’ll take the train from Paris to Hendaye on the Atlantic coast and start walking the GR10, hopefully making it to the Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean around mid-August. The GR10 is one of three walks that traverses the length of Pyrenees Mountain Range between France and Spain: the GR10 on the French side, the GR11 on the Spanish side, and the Haute Randonée Pyrénéenne (HRP) or High Pyrenees Route that follows the highest walkable route in the middle.

I picked the GR10 because I speak French and I don’t speak Spanish and because it’s my first solo hike and unlike the GR10 and 11 which are well marked with lovely red and white painted stripes, the HRP is largely unmarked. The GR10 is also sufficiently popular that someone should come along and find me if I need help (hopefully it won’t come to that!).

The GR10 is about 900 km in length which includes close to 50000 m elevation gain and loss. I made a rough itinerary using the topoguides published by the French hiking association and the very informative French GR10 website My rough estimate is 44 days which seems reasonable on paper but it really depends how things go once I’m out there. The longest hike I’ve previously done was 10 days on the Kungsleden in the north of Sweden and I’ve never done more than a day hike by myself.

The very helpful French Topoguides. Unfortunately having four of them makes them rather heavy so I’m only carrying two at a time and have cutout the pages that aren’t about the GR10.

I’ve lightened my gear a lot compared to previous hikes I’ve been on but am still wishing my pack was lighter. My sincere dread of being one of “those people” who have to be rescued because they didn’t take appropriate rain gear and got hypothermia in a Pyrénées thunderstorm (for example) is preventing me from ditching anything else.

My lighter than usual but could be lighter pack that I will hopefully not feel the need to unpack and repack too many times before I leave!

My main concerns are tick bites (Lyme disease) and getting caught in crazy thunderstorms. I’m also worried about my knees turning against me. In the past they haven’t been a problem but I’ve had a few running related injuries this year. Most of all, I’m going to miss my husband Trevor. He is staying in Paris to stress out about my well being because (a) hiking for 10 days is about his limit and (b) he’s not in a position to take 6 weeks off.

Things I can’t wait for are the amazing mountain scenery, having better things to take photos of than gear and guide books, meeting lovely hiking people, seeing marmots (love marmots!), and just putting one foot in front of the other.

I clearly just need to leave now since my gear and food are about as ready as they’re going to be but I still feel the need to try to tweak them somehow. I’ve got to the point of asking google the really deep questions such as “how long does a 50ml tube of toothpaste last?” to see if I really need to take it all. It is definitely time to go!

How long will you last?




This is the gear I’m going to start the GR10 with. I’m working towards lightweight hiking but still have a way to go. I bought “Ultralight Backpacking Tips” by Mike Clelland but failed to do step 1 and buy kitchen scales to weigh anything. I’ll do another post after I finish with what worked and what I would change. Will I be miserable without a stove (cups of tea!)?

Obligatory gear photo (clothes worn and trekking poles not included)

Big items

  • Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 tent
  • Polycro ground sheet
  • Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L backpack
  • 2 x Gossamer Gear pack liners
  • North Face Cat’s Meow synthetic sleeping bag
  • Exped SynMat Hyperlight M sleeping map
  • Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag (for inflating sleeping mat, also used as sleeping bag stuff sack)

Clothes carried

  • Uniqlo Heattech long sleeve t-shirt
  • Uniqlo Heattech leggings
  • Patagonia Nanopuff hoody
  • Montane Atomic rain jackets
  • Kalenji running gloves
  • Warm socks for sleeping
  • Thongs (the shoes people!)
  • Buff bandana
  • Injinji Lightweight No-Show socks (spare)
  • Underwear (spare)
  • Nike Dri-FIT Tempo running shorts

Eating and Drinking

  • Snow Peak titanium spork
  • Opinel knife
  • Plastic screwtop container (for cold soaking food)
  • Stainless steel mug
  • Vitamins/Supplements (multivitamin, algae omega 3, calcium, K2, B12)
  • Sawyer Mini water filter
  • IL Sawyer water filtration pouches
  • 2L Platypus Hoser hydration system


  • Samsung Galaxy S4 + charger cords
  • Earphones
  • Puridea S4 6600mAh portable charger
  • Bushnell SolarWrap Mini solar charger
  • Spot Gen3 tracker/emergency beacon
  • Sony RX100 camera
  • SD card reader for phone
  • GR10 topoguides (carrying 2 at a time)
  • Compass

First Aid, Toiletries etc

  • Zinc sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • O-Tom Tick Twister
  • Care Plus Tick-Test kit
  • Lifesystems midge/mosquito headnet (doubles as food bag)
  • First aid: iodine antiseptic, ibuprofen, Arnica Ice, Imodium, assorted wound dressings/bandages, strapping tape, tweezers, scissors
  • Space blanket
  • Toiletries: Tooth paste, brush, floss, moisturiser, shampoo and laundry soap leaves, hand sanitiser
  • Eye mask and ear plugs
  • Toilet paper
  • Pee rag – old bandana
  • Lunacopine menstrual cup
  • Sea to Summit Pocket Towel small


  • Black Diamond headlamp + 2 x AAA spare batteries
  • Emergency matches
  • Notebook and pen
  • Sea to Summit Dry Bags – 1L and 13L
  • Piece of cord
  • Extra zip-lock bags for trash



Clothes Worn

  • Brooks Cascadia 12 trail runners
  • Dirty Girl gaiters
  • Injinji Lightweight No-Show socks
  • Underwear
  • Adidas Techfit sports bra
  • Columbia Irico long sleeve shirt
  • Under Armor tank top
  • Quechua Forclaz 100 convertible hiking pants
  • Quechua Forclaz 500 hiking poles
  • Columbia wide brim hat
  • Sunglasses from Decathlon