A more interesting day with more time in the hills. Got to 716m elevation at the Col de Méhatché, the highest so far. Once again the route goes almost back to sea level for the night.
The day began cloudy and humid and remained that way until late afternoon when the sun finally broke through. First up was a climb to the Col des Trois Croix just above Ainhoa. You can see the crosses from town. Once again, I was soaked by the end of the climb in the humid weather. Then it was up and down in green hills. Pleasant.
Again I saw many horses grazing free in the high pastures along with sheep and cattle. I’ve come to an unfortunate conclusion about the horses. There are so many that the only possible reason they are grazing with the other farm animals is that they will share the same fate; they will be eaten. Very little horse meat is eaten in Canada and the idea of eating such magnificent animals makes me slightly ill, but different cultures have different ideas.
The last part of the hike today is normally a very steep descent on a loose trail. A bit unnerving and dangerous in the rain. A French hiker I chatted with in the morning said we might not be able to use the trail as it had been badly damaged by heavy rain. That turned out to be the case and the descent was by an alternate route, a local multi-day route used by hikers and mountain bikers named the Sentier des Contrebandiers, the path of the smugglers. Since we are on the border between Spain and France, smugglers were probably active here. It was a safe but unexciting descent on gravel road, trails and some quiet paved road.
Dinner tonight isn’t served until 8:00. I’ll be glad to be sleeping in gîtes d’étap in a few days. They are for hikers and meals are earlier, both in the evening and the morning.