Today, Wednesday, we walked about 9 miles. It was much easier than yesterday, but still a lot of uphill. The guidebook rates the trail difficult as green, orange, or red. We decided that it also needs a black rating for near-death difficulty. If yesterday was really black, today was only red. Tonight we have a chalet at a campground. Fun!
This was our first morning to start off in rain gear. Our guide book did not serve us well either. Instead of 12.5 miles it claimed we would walk, James' fitbit said we walked 18 and we all agreed it was much more than 12.5, including two major scrambles over rocky, mountain passes. We are tired.
On the positive side, we saw a wonderful chapel undergoing restoration, some gorgeous scenery, a couple of charming cafes, and a good crepe restaurant for dinner.
We are now on Estaing, which is spectacular despite our aching feet and legs.
Monday morning greeted us with clear and cool skies. We walked about 13 miles, again through farms and forests. The brown Aubrac cows are always with us, which happily also means the time, Cantal and St Nectaire cheeses are too. We had significant downhills treks today. We had to stop and tie our boots for the hills. Of course, then we also had major uphills sections. We were ready for a rest when we arrived about 3:00 at our place in St Come d'Olt.
The morning dawned cool and dry. We walked about 11 miles, again through forests and fields, among the cows and the wildflowers. Russ was curious what variety of cow we were seeing and looked it up . . . Aubrac cows! The hills were not unkind. Our feet, and the rest of us, arrived tired but happy at the Gite St. Andre in St Chely d'Aubrac, which was a bit more modest (no towels or top sheets) but we have sleep sacks and travel towels, so no problem. The place was overbooked and Russ and I got the family's giant guest room. All four of us hung there to relax and chat.
It was us, 4 young French women, and a French hiking club of 14 at dinner at breakfast. Lots of fun and practice for my French.
Pam and James are here! They caught up to us on our 7th day. It was a beautiful
morning until minutes after we all started walking when it started to rain. We ducked into a luckily placed cafe and donned our rain gear, only to have to ditch it when the rain disappeared in 20 minutes or so.
The terrain was wonderful. We walked through farm fields filled with wild flowers and momma cows with their babies.
Threatening clouds hung close and turned to a downpour after a few hours on the trail. We were really happy to arrive at our chambres d'hotes, wring ourselves out, rest for an hour, and then re-group over cafe au lait in the common room with our sketch books on hand.
Dinner was excellent again. All local agricultural fare and great cheese.
Breakfast coming at 7:30, too soon. Time to sleep now. Please, no rain in the morning.
Another wonderful day on the Chemin de St. Jacques! Our chambres d'hotes in St Alban was lovely. There were three bedrooms and a great room and we had it all to ourselves, except that our hosts, who lived in another part of the house, were super nice and sat with us to chat after we got back from dinner in town, and then again while they fixed us breakfast today.
The sun shone as we headed out in high 40-degree weather. Perfect. The 9-mile day had a lot of hills, both up and down. A mile or more uphill, a mile or more descent, a few level areas .... through high pasture lands, forests, and farms.
We are staying at an agricultural accommodation, Ferme de Barry, with a choice of private rooms (us) or shared dorms (not us). The hosts fixed a meal for us featuring a local cheese specialty, aligot.
Pam and James have arrived in Le Puy. We expect them to catch up to us tomorrow.
In addition to our wonderful dinner last night...homemade meatballs, cheesey potatoes, cheese, and plum pudding...we shared stories in French, English, and a bit of German with our fellow overnighters at the chambres d'hotes, 3 French hikers and a German who cycles the Camino from home each year. Breakfast was coffee, homemade plum and strawberry jams, French bread, and yogurt.
The weather was bright and sunny as we took off on the Compostel Bus to jump ahead 40 miles past two "killer" hills. That 50 minute ride would have been a 3 or 4 day walk. It was beautiful and we regretted, not for a minute, seeing it out the window.
We got off at Villeret and walked about 14 miles to St. Alban, again arriving in the rain at a nice chambres d'hotes. All cleaned up, we headed to town for dinner with the locals. This was one of the few places that we did not have a dinner made by our hosts. We met up with an Austrian woman we had met on the trail. She joined us and it was fun to hear about her walk. She had started out walking from home with a church group. Each year they would walk for two weeks and go home, starting the next year where they left off the previous one. Year after year, the group dwindled. Now she is walking alone, a long ways from Austria, and still many years from Santiago, at two weeks per year.
It was our fourth day away from home and our first full day of walking. We climbed down from our hotel in the old city, walked through the commercial district, and climbed back up the other side. After the first mile or so, the trail leveled to a gradual rise toward our destination about 12 miles away. It was a bit of a challenge to get our legs in gear, even with all our neighborhood and Millhopper training. It didn't rain until the last few miles.
Le Puy is a very hilly city! As usual, we had a bit of trouble finding our Inn in the historic old city. We walked from the train/bus station to the center of town and then started uphill. Once to the pedestrian-only section, there were steps rather than roads. We found a very cool plaza with lots of sidewalk cafes, and soon afterwards found the Inn. Having settled in and caught our breath. we ventured back out to relax and grab a bite at one of those sidewalk cafes. Not being at all adjusted to the time, we weren't ready for a real dinner and had cheese and charcuterie instead. Good choice. It doesn't get dark until after 10:00, but that did not keep us awake after two days of travel.
On our second day in Le Puy, we visited many of the sites.
Reading from the Beginning to the End
If you'd prefer to read about our Camino trips from their beginning points to our return, rather than blog-style . . . from the most recent post backwards in time . . . go to the section labeled Our Caminos.
Peg and Russ Hall
- Second Wind
- Why Walk It?
- Step 1. Planning Your Camino -- What kind, Where, When, How far, Alone, Getting there . . .
- Step 2. Getting Ready -- Training, Packing, Gear, Clothes, Electronics, Passports, TSA . . .
- Step 3. Being There -- Money, Lodgings, Food, Language . . .
- Step 4. Adapting -- Guidebooks, Websites, Trail conditions, Schedule, Water, Weather, Pain, Hazards, Phones . . .
- Step 5. Being a Pilgrim and a Tourist -- Types of pilgrimmage, Roman roads, Medieval life, Wonders . . .
- Step 6. Living the Lessons of the Camino -- Once or again, Connecting at home, Being hospitaleros . . .
- Who Are We?
- All of Our Caminos
- Camino 2019 Blog