Monthly Archives: September 2016

Peaceful Walk

As promised, we woke up to a steady rain. We were ready to make it to Cahors come rain or shine!  

We donned our ponchos and headed out into the dark as usual. To an untrained eye, we must have looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame.


We walked an hour in the dark before there was some light. The sun was taking a hiatus today!


If one’s spirits are up, even the rain can’t dampen one’s spirit. We kept walking, listening to the pitter patter of the rain on our hats and the ponchos. 

The rain was steady most of the time, but once in a while it turned into a drizzle, allowing me to take occasional pictures. 

 

There were no towns or sheltered areas along the way, so we had to carry our backpacks for the whole 6 hours without any break! We were finally happy to see the town of Cahors from the hill top. 


After traveling over 350 km, we are taking a couple of days off and are checked into a hotel for a change. We will resume walking again on Friday or Saturday. 

Simple joys

Walking is such a simple activity. When one is out in nature away from everyday distractions, one becomes joyful. All the worries and responsibilities are left behind. All you are focused on is putting one step in front of the other. You are in the moment. Life becomes peaceful and carefree.  The nature is so beautiful and you see it in its full glory. Even ordinary things look extra ordinary! 


The last few days we have seen a lot more color in the trees.  The path is beginning to fill up with leaves, as if nature is welcoming an early fall. 


We are 18 km from Cahors, a major city (we think) on our way. We plan to stay there a few days to rest up. Out here in this beautiful oasis, the signal is weak, and the wifi is just as weak! I am challenged by technology and am struggling trying to load any more pictures. 

Tomorrow we may have to walk in rain all day as everyone is predicting 37 ml. It should be a fun day. 

Hot Day

Leaving late as we did today (drop off at the trail at 8:30), not only did we miss our daily sunrise, but we had to endure an extra two hours of walking in the afternoon!

We enjoyed our evening at the pony ranch. 


It was quiet and peaceful. After the morning breakfast at the ranch, we began our quiet walk of the day. There was nothing spectacular along the way, although the day was peaceful. 


Out of the blue, we saw a sheep gallop past us.  A few minutes later, we saw the shepherd and his dog herding a large flock. We informed him of the fact that one had taken off. He seemed not too worried!


We have been crisscrossing with this man for last few days. Turns out he speaks English, so I was able to find out few things. 

Zoltan is from Hungry. He started his walk in May from Hungry. 

We also met Philippe on the path. He is the husband of Annie whom we introduced you to two days ago.  He’s a fast hiker, whereas the girls like to go slowly.    

Listen to this brilliant way in which he, Annie and Marie Annick travel the French Camino:  They rented a camping-car (an RV).  Philippe rides his bicycle to the day’s end point while the two girls begin walking from the start point.  Philippe walks the Camino backwards, and they cross paths somewhere in the middle and eat their lunch together. Then they keep walking in their opposite directions.  Philippe reaches the start point and retrieves the camping-car, drives it to the end point, and meets the girls.  

Brilliant!!  No one carries a backpack!  No one has to make reservations at a gite.  All can take showers inside the camping-car if the campsite doesn’t have one.  Anyone can choose not to walk in a day if they so choose.  Everyone sleeps comfortably.  Brilliant!

This works in France because the GR 65 is marked in both directions!


We are settled in a gite “Clos des Escoutilles” in Varaire.   They told us that we have one more day of heat. After that to expect cooler weather as well as some rain!

Off the beaten path

We had a choice to make. Walk 10 km to the next town or go an additional 20 km to the next accommodaion on the path.  We wanted to split the difference and walk 15 today and 15 tomorrow. The only way was for us to go off route. 

We started early to watch once again the show of light and dark as the sun attempted to make us feel its presence. 

It was quiet and blissful all morning. 


We had a rare opportunity for a selfie!

 

The gite, it turns out, was miles away from the GR 65. Fortunately the lady was willing to pick us up today and drop us tomorrow (but not before 8 am). I guess we will miss the sunrise in the morning!

We are settled in an old horse/pony ranch right next to the river. We are the only two guests here to enjoy the dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and ponies. 

Sunrise Sequence 

We left Figeac early and began climbing out of the city in the dark. 


We traveled under the umbrella of the trees in the darkness.  As we reached the top, the sun was emerging from behind the mountain and the trees. We were fortunate to witness a beautiful sunrise over the next few minutes. 


We walked along the country roads  and paths most of the day with a couple of stops in little villages for snacks. 


Just before lunch we ran into two primary-school teachers, Marie Annick and Annie, from France, who wanted to practice English and were willing to teach us French. We enjoyed their company the rest of the day. 


We passed by an old, French buron, a round, stone structure stacked from the inside, upward, without mortar or wood (including the roof) to shelter shepherds tending their sheep.  The buron can be found only in this region of central France. 


We ended our walk of 21 km and 145 floor climb to the outskirts of Grealou. We are settled at the Gite for the night. There will be a communal dinner soon as there is no other food options for another 10 km!

Rocamadour

Rock of Amadour dates back to the upper Paleolithic age, although its recent history dates back to 1152. The body of a well-preserved hermit, believed to be that of Saint Amadour, was discovered in the cave in 1166.  This site has become a site of pilgrimage, and a great many miracles are attributed to the Saint.  Churches were built in the cave. Four hospitals were built to accommodate the heavy traffic of pilgrims.  In 1562, the war leaders of Bessonie and Marchastal plundered the place. In the 19th century, Rocamadour came back to life, restored in the spirit of its time. 

Our rest day today took us past the river Cele to the train station in Figeac. A 30-minute train ride took us to a station located 4 km from the village of Rocamadour.  A cool morning walk took us to the edge of the old town.  Here is our journey in pictures. 






Rosetta Stone

Today our journey was a short one of 12 km to the town of Figeac. We will take a rest day here and visit the town of Rocamsdour (more to come tomorrow on this). 

The day was misty and rainy so I gave my camera a day off!  The walk was pretty pedantic through country roads and paths.  Here is a quick glimpse of today. 


Jean-François Champollion, born in Figeac, cracked the code of the Egyptians hieroglyphics of the Rosetta Stone. 


The original Rosetta Stone resides in London, but a copy is maintained here at a museum in his honor. 

Long hike

We started early again as we had a long hike ahead of us! We were staying two km outside of a large city so first the 4 km was moving through city/country streets. 



We stopped for breakfast and coffee at around 9. 


We sat for lunch under the shade of a tree by the church. As we  were eating, the nuts fell on our head. Turned out it was a hazel nut tree! We enjoyed a few of them. 


Here are few other fruit trees along the way (tomatoes, apricot, plum, and fig). 

As we were finishing lunch, Neve and her gang of children arrived (notice the umbrella to protect from the hot sun). 


We walked with them for a bit. We saw them again in an hour at another church. The paintings are from 14th century. 


After 24 km and 170 floors we arrived at our Chambre d’hôte. We needed this beautifu place to recharge ourselves after a long day. 


Here are few panoramic shots from today as we bid you goodnight. 

Top of the world

Last night we were nestled in a steep valley in Conques.  We had spent the night in the St. Foy abbey located close to the top of the conch-shaped town (hence the name, Conques).  

This morning we had to go down to the bottom of the valley to the creek, cross a creek on an old bridge and then begin a steep climb up the next mountain range. 

Here from the halfway-point of our upward climb, you can see the town of Conques that we left behind. 

The panoramic view upon reaching the top was wonderful. 


The rest of the day we went up and down hills, but we always we had the panoramic view all around.




Finally, today we found quite a few ripe blackberries to enjoy along the way. 



After 22 km of walking in the sun and 150 floors of climbing, we got to our gite only to find out that we needed to walk another 2 km further into town to get our dinner and to buy a picnic breakfast and lunch for tomorrow.  On the way into town, we ran into Neve and her family as they were planning to have a late lunch. 


Excited Donkey

We love the early morning hike. The body feels healed from the night’s rest, and we are ready to experience the cool breeze and the sun’s emergence into the scene. As usual it was beyond words. 



We passed a cute little town. 


I saw this Donkey all by his lonesome and decided to greet him with a hee-haw. He got all excited and responded with his own hee-haw so loudly I though I had met a long lost cousin. He immediately began following me to the end of his pasture. I had to promise him that I would find him some apples and come back and feed him!


After 15 km and 82 floors, we unexpectedly descended into the 11th century monks’ town of Conques. 



We met Neve and her 5 children in the church as they were spending the day in Conques. 


Our tour guide happens to be the model on the guide booklet. 


After the tour, we all enjoyed some time together at the restaurant.