Day 18 was sunny, warm, long and disappointing. The scenery wasn’t good – much time in forest on the climb, the col was the top of a ski run, and a long descent on a trail that cut across the switchbacks in the road down from the ski lift. Perhaps my view was affected by taking the wrong trail in the morning and losing an hour, but looking back, the time on the wrong trail was the most pleasant walking of the day. Not every day can be spectacular.
To make up for the poor day, Luz St. Sauveur is a lovely town. Old houses, curving streets and a fortified church from the 12th century. A good gîte in a well-restored old building. A peasant evening with Monica, a Swiss woman, and Philippe, a French man whose living is travel ( www.chacunsaroute.com ). Both spoke English well.
The evening thunderstorm was the spectacular part of the day. Not a lot of rain, but the sky over the mountains to the west was full of lightning and thunder rumbled down into the valley.
Day 19, today, was short. (Good thing as tomorrow is long.) I took the route on the north side of the valley through some pretty towns.
Barèges is a winter sports town with thermal baths. It suffered a bad flood in June 2013 which tore out everything near the river and disrupted the GR10 route. The reconstruction continues. The town is quiet and run down with few summer tourists.