Saturday, September 12 – Day 9
Because of the impending storm, everyone was planning on leaving early. There was another problem besides the weather. Estaing is the next natural stopping place, but every place for lodging was booked out because of a renaissance festival. The remaining options were either a very short 7k day, or a very long 27k day. I picked the long day. Whoohoo!
I had a hearty breakfast. I am really, really liking the breakfasts. Maybe it’s just because I can eat the bread, but I find breakfast usually holds me for a good 12 miles.
I was out the door and on the trail by 7:40, which I thought was pretty good. The sky and clouds were ominous, but gorgeous.
I ran into Anick by the church, putting on her rain cover. I put mine on, too. Leaving the village we crossed over the river Lot. I was almost giddy with happiness for the day ahead. I am just so happy to be here and to be doing this. Anick said that every morning she wakes up it’s like Christmas, and she gets to open a present. That’s exactly what it is, it’s a gift and a blessing to be able to do something like this. I said good-bye to Anick and headed off up the mountain. That seems to be the story of my life these past 9 days: climbing up and down mountains.
On the other side of the mountain was Espalion. It’s quite a big city. It has everything you could want, and awesome buildings as well. There was a little old church on the outskirts that I stopped to see first.
Then the path followed the river for a bit, and went through a modern park.
I wanted to go see the church, which is not directly on the path.
Afterward, I wasn’t sure exactly where the path was, so I headed in the direction I thought it should be. Turns out I took one road too far to the left, and ended up the side of a mountain. A very helpful woman could tell I was lost and told me how to get back down. The road she told me to use had a sign on it that said it was a private road. It came out in a gardening center, but luckily I didn’t run into anyone. The road it came out on was the proper road. It was so comforting to see those red and white markers, and of course, the backpacks and poles of other pilgrims.
There was another little church, and then another mountain. This one was pretty steep and rough.
I caught up with Anick on the other side, at another little church, but this one was locked. It had a water point and some picnic tables for pilgrims to stop. Pru was there, and she offered me half of her sandwhich. I told her I didn’t want to stop because I wanted to try to stay ahead of the rain. She said she didn’t think it would rain. 5 minutes later it was raining.
I ate the sandwhich she gave and as I walked. It was only a light rain. Then I started eating the two croissants I’d bought earlier on my way out of town. As I was walking, eating, and looking into the storm, I realized that there was no place else I would rather be. I knew I was about to get soaked, and I hate being wet. I mentioned to Pru that I was thinking about putting my rain gear on, and she said she didn’t think it would rain any harder. Less than 20 seconds later it started to pour.
It was still another 5k to Estaing.
We got into town and Pru was meeting Bronnie there. They weren’t staying the night, but were taking a taxi to Fonteilles, which is where I was also going. They wanted me to come with them, but I declined, because I really want to walk the whole way if at all possible. I was wet, but as far as I could tell my socks were dry. Estaing really would have made a lovely stopping place.
I headed off on what would be the longest 8k of my life. Most of it was on the road, and the last 5k of it was all uphill. The mountain was covered in clouds, so I kept thinking I was getting close, and more mountain would appear.
I walked into the place I had a reservation at about 4:40. 9 hours and 18.74 miles later. Walking in the mountains is no joke. My feet have been pretty happy so far, but they hurt pretty badly right now. Just aching and tingling. I think I will save the longer days for flatter Spain. Today was also 268 flights of stairs, which is by far the most I’ve had so far. No wonder. I never would have thought almost 19 miles would take me 9 hours.
Anyway, most of my stuff stayed dry in their plastic bags. They have a washing machine here, so I am washing a bunch of stuff. My scrubba has been working like it’s supposed to, but I think the soap I have isn’t the best. I am going to start using more of it, then buy some other soap. It’s nice to have clean clothes.
Wow, I totally had deja vu while going through my pics. I think I dreamed about being on the camino before I even knew what the camino was. It’s too bad deja vu isn’t more concrete. I wish I could remember exactly what it was.
Dinner was amazing. It’s obvious that the host takes great pride in presenting a feast. The first course was some kind of alcohol, which I didn’t have, and green olives. The olives were yummy.
The second course was nettle soup and cheese and crusty bread. It was delicious. I ate two bowls, and would have eaten more, but it was so hot! They had the heat on, and I was washing both of my t-shirts, so I had my heavy long sleeve shirt on, and I was eating this soup and sweating. We asked if we could open a window, but he turned the ceiling fan on instead. It did help.
The main course was 3 different dishes. Endive wrapped with ham and cheese, a stuffed tomato and rice, and a chicken leg. There was so much of everything, you could eat as much as you wanted.
Then there was a simple green salad course, and then a cheese course, and he brought out the biggest plate of different cheeses. Then the dessert course, was the most beautiful and delicious apple pie, and two different kinds of ice cream (more like sorbet). Then he had some kind of tea, and some kind of liquor shot to end it off (I didn’t have either of those). Dinner lasted almost 3 hours, and didn’t get to bed until well after 10.
Pru and Bronnie were worried about me because I’d had such a long day and I was being so quiet. I assured them that I was always quiet, but they said they didn’t believe me. I was definitely tired, and my feet throbbed all the way through dinner, and I did have a headache from not enough water and not enough electrolyte replacement.