Off to see the wizard

A version of this piece was first published in my Pinnacle Newsletter.

I’ve spent a good deal of my time this week pacing the halls of EventCity in Manchester, ‘doing’ the Outdoor Trade Show with team TGO. While it was great to catch up with so many friends and colleagues, I also found it physically and mentally tiring. I’m an introvert by nature and spending so much time around so many different people, lovely as most of them are, has drained my batteries.

Fortunately I have an antidote on the horizon (there’s a thoroughly mixed metaphor for you). On Sunday I travel to Hendaye and on Monday I will begin my crossing of the Pyrenees via the Haute Route – 750km from Atlantic to Mediterranean. After so many years of dreaming, and so many months of planning, it’s hard to believe that the quest is about to begin at last.

I’ve already written much about my preparations, so I won’t go into detail again here, but I have updated all my existing posts to reflect my final thoughts and plans. My gear list is now final. Unfortunately the Foratata quilt I had been promised from As Tucas never showed up, and I’ve decided to bring a larger-format hardback book for journaling, so overall base weight has increased to around 6.3kg. I can’t say I really care and I certainly don’t think I’ll notice the difference.

If all goes well, this will be my last post until I return to the UK, which will be in late August or early September. I won’t be on social media for the duration of my journey – you’ll have a fair idea why that is if you’ve followed my writing over the last couple of years – and I won’t have access to email. I won’t be restricting my internet use beyond that, but to all intents and purpose I will be going dark. Six weeks of untrammelled thinking, six weeks of unmediated experience – my very own Shrike pilgrimage.

It’s going to be fantastic.

By Alex Roddie

Award-winning outdoor and nature writer, editor, author, and photographer.


Have a great time Alex. Don’t get too hung up on base weight as you’ll soon be fit as a butcher’s dog! Maybe see you there? (although I’m picking up the trail from Gavarnie first week of August – had to cut a thru-hike short in ’18).

I will be walking the GR10 from 23rd July so unlikely I will bump into you. I did the HRP in 2012 and shredded two pairs of trail shoes and scuffed my ankles on rocks a couple of times, very painful. I would be inclined to go for boots if doing this trail again.

Ah, bad luck with the shoes! Must admit I can’t stand hiking in boots in hot weather. I’ve been to the central Pyrenees before, but haven’t walked much more than about 100 miles. My trail shoes held up well though.

Thanks for the advice on ice and spikes, too. I’ve been wavering about them for months. At the last minute I’ve decided not to pack them.

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