Day 5 – Wednesday, 31 July – Nonieres to Col de Cerisier – 42km
It was the best mattress yet, but of course I didn’t sleep well because I had to get up early and I was afraid of missing my alarm. Idk why I would be worried about that. I always wake up early. I just woke up at 2, 3, 4, 4:30, etc. I got up at 5:30 and started packing up without making too much noise. I knew it was going to be a very long day, so I made sure to fill my bladder completely full. Unfortunately, 3L of water is pretty heavy. You take a lot of water, but then you need to drink more because your pack is heavier.
Sunrise was 6:26 and I was actually out the door by 6:28. I just couldn’t find the path. Idk why, I just had a hard time figuring it out. While I was on the wrong path, I found a snail! I didn’t go too far, but it still took me almost 20 mins to figure it out. It was just a lot of false starts. That was annoying. I was truly on the way by 6:45. I knew I had at least 38k to go, and I also knew there was a good chance the distances between Nonieres and Chalcenon were going to be wrong. They were.
I think I had one of the steepest climbs yet out of the village. Thankfully it wasn’t too long. It was a really nice, cool morning, but there weren’t any amazing sunrise pics. It was really interesting how quiet everything was before all of the bugs woke up. It was several hours of almost complete silence.
The walk basically wound around the mountains going along the river valley.
Sometimes the path has you walking right next to someone’s house, and that can be a little unnerving. Or you walk right between buildings on their property. That would never fly in the US.
I passed one of the towns where I tried to call to stay. I did use their public squat toilet. Outside town there were coiled nets hanging under all of the chestnut trees. I’d like to see them when they’re collecting the nuts!
After that it was just more winding around the mountain side and walking through people’s property.
I am using an app called IPhiGéNie. It’s a French app that has all of the IGNRando maps, and it shows all of the GR paths in pink. Someone on the Camino forum recommended it and it has totally been a life saver. The path is starting to be pretty poorly marked, so it saved my bacon a few times at unmarked crossroads. Unfortunately, some of the markings have just been wrong.
As I was going up the mountain, I checked the map and found that I’d made a wrong turn about 400m back. When I got to the bottom, sure enough, it was marked as the way to go, but my app said to go another way. Looking at the app, it didn’t seem like the marked path would connect to where I needed to go. I’m sure it would have, but it looked like it really took me out of the way. I went the way the app told me, and it was obvious that hardly anyone went that way. The path was overgrown with raspberries that scratched my legs, and there were so many trees fallen across the path. It’s really hard to duck under things wearing a pack. It was a true adventure. I did start to wonder if I would make it back to civilization at all.
Eventually I did. Chalencon was supposed to be 16km from Nonieres, which means it should have taken a little over 4 hours to get there. It took 6. It was actually 21km. I still had 22km to go to where I had a reservation. Any sane person would have broken it into two days. I would have if I hadn’t already had a reservation based on false data.
Coming into Chalencon, they rang the bell to call mass, so I didn’t get to check out the church. The office of tourism happened to be right where I entered, so I stopped to ask where the public bathrooms were, and she let me use the one there. I checked my map to figure out how to get where I was going, and I decided to just go for it. As I was trucking along, marveling at how well I was doing, the scripture came to mind of having Angels around you to bear you up. I know who my Angels are.
Sure, I could have broken the reservation, but they usually require a 25% fee to book, and she waived it for me since I was out of the country and she didn’t have a way to take payment online.
I left Chalencon feeling good and at a good pace. Luckily it was flatter at first, so I covered the next 9 kilometers in about 2 hours. But then the pain started getting worse. The muscle in my thigh kept seizing up, making it hard to walk without limping. I did loosen up after a while and still felt like I was making pretty good time.
About two hours before the end, I was climbing another mountain, when I had to go through someone’s property and they were actually there. This nice little old man tried to convince me that I had too far to go and I should stay with him and his sister for free. I told him I had a reservation. But I did let him refill my water bottle, which turned out to be a good thing because I used it all. It was a very long day.
The final count was 42km. 42km is the equivalent of a marathon, which I did, climbing up and down 3 mountains with a 25lb pack on my back. It look 11 and a half hours. Such an incredibly long day.
Because I am going a less walked route, there are less options for accommodation and they are further apart. I have to go 25k tomorrow, but I still don’t have a reservation anywhere. Hopefully I can get something in the morning, or I’m really going to have to go out of the way.
I found the Gîte about 6:30. It was off the path a bit, so I had to walk on a really busy road. But I actually made it. I almost can’t believe it.
I’m the only guest tonight, and I ate dinner with the family, but unfortunately it was a late dinner. We didn’t start until 8:30. I am so tired.
There was an aperitif outside. Potato chips and some really good dried sausage things that I ate most of before I took a picture. And orange juice. They have some very friendly kittens who purr very loudly. Then the next course was a tart of come kind. I think maybe it was little cheese raviolis? I have no idea what it was but it was stinking good. Then it was gratin potatoes and I have no idea what the other thing was. At first I thought blood sausage, but it didn’t taste like it at all. There were herbs, and maybe even some olives, but I have no idea what it was. It was good. Then some delicious cheese, which I also have no idea what it was, and some ice cream and something else that I have no idea what it was. It was all delicious. French home cooked meals are amazing. They usually do not disappoint.
I’m in a bed with sheets tonight!
Hopefully I can walk tomorrow. I slathered arnica on everything.