Words & photos by Sam Haddad
“Take the path that goes right in a hairpin…follow it uphill through the forest…near the top it takes a sharp turn to the left… the path eventually leads to a paved road.”
We’re somewhere in the middle of the French Pyrenees, where for the last three and a half hours we’ve been walking in thick heat through a deep mountain forest that’s teeming with life. Bees, butterflies and birds in shades we’ve never seen before are all around. We’re not lost, at least we don’t think we are but as we haven’t had a sniff of phone signal since the start of our hike, it’s hard to say for sure.
Instead we’re following a photocopied map and some typed out instructions, which up until now have been enjoyably idiosyncratic. My favourite being: “Follow [the path] for 800m until you find three unusual fir trees, planted in a triangle.”
To be fair the route has been super-clear and easy to navigate, we haven’t needed Google maps at all, but it’s amazing how much you rely upon it even as a back-up security blanket. I say this as someone who grew up pre-smart phones, and honed a fairly decent ability to read a map by navigating my Dad around London streets with a battered old A to Z.