The Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne is an 800km hike from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean trying to cross the Pyrenees along the French-Spanish border at high altitude. This translates to a total elevation gain of 50km.1 There is no official trail, but a range of books and internet blogs giving outlines of a varying route (see Resources). I started becoming interested in hiking the HRP in early 2017 and luckily had 4 weeks of free time to complete it in August.
There are a lot of blogs that are easily accessible. I searched for blogs in German, French and English and that was enough information to prepare. Mostly, these resources are useful to get an overview, but in the end you do not really need much of it: Look for cheap transportation to the start and end point (Hendaye/Banyuls sur Mer) and download a few GPS tracks and maps or track descriptions. That’s all you need.
You need most of the standard equipment for those hikes: Clothing, shelter, sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Given that there is a lot of elevation involved and the terrain can be very rough and steep, keep the weight as low as possible. I’ve seen a few other hikers doing the trail and they had up to 25kg on their backs. In the prior months I had changed most of my equipment to get down to a backpack weight of 4.5kg and overall I think this should suffice. A few things that I changed before this trip:
- There is a lot of sun shine, so a small solar panel is feasible. I used a DIN A5 sized panel imported from China (120g) for 20 Euro. A 5000mAh battery is sufficient for camera and mobile phone. If you are a heavy user, you will need to recharge in a town every 10 days.
- Sleeping bag should be rated 0$^\circ$C for August. Mine was rated for 5$^\circ$C and was slightly too thin given that there was frost on higher altitudes. Then again, it will be even hotter at lower altitudes.
- A cheap tarp from China does its job flawlessly even in heavy wind and rain.
- Instead of paper maps and guid book, go mobile phone only. I used to have paper maps as backup before, but changed to mobile phone only. You can bring a backup phone if you fear it breaking. Load a GPS app with open source maps and scan your print material.
Maybe another point in time…
Click on arbitrary Day to show corresponding map.
- This is usually the values you find in literature, my GPS tracks indicate only 700km and 40km of elevation. ^