Day 52 – Monday, 23 September – Pontremoli to Aulla – 31 km
What a nice bed! And a feather pillow! I thought this place was great. Yes, the bathroom is pretty bad, but I spend a lot more time in bed than in the bathroom.
I wasn’t really ready to get up at 6, but I was awake and I knew I had a long day of rain ahead.
I was walking out the door at 6:45, at the same time as Fausto and Sergio.
It wasn’t raining yet, but I had my rain stuff on, and by the time I got into the middle of town it was raining.
I didn’t see a place to stop for breakfast, so I just ate one of the Lara bars I’ve been carrying since the beginning. I think I have 3 or 4 left.
I took a detour to the bridge so I could get a shot of the castle.
The walk out of town was really nice. These towns must be so old.
Today was listed as 32.5 km, so that means at least 34-35. Possibly in the rain the whole day.
The path routed down the SS62 for a bit, then wandered off to the side, then came back. I skipped the first two wanderings and just went straight down the road. Sometimes there was a sidewalk and sometimes there wasn’t. At one point there was a local walking ahead of me. Pilgrims aren’t the only ones who walk on these roads.
It rained off and on, but not very much. If that’s how it was going to be all day, I was ok with that.
But then, about 9:30, I was in the middle of the woods and it started pouring. My shoes and socks were soaked in less than a minute. The benefit of that is that I didn’t have to work too hard to avoid puddles anymore, or worry about creek crossings, as there were quite a few.
My poncho keeps everything dry, but it doesn’t completely cover my skirt. In a light rain it takes a while for my skirt to get wet. This time it got wet very quickly. It was 9:30 and I was soaked. I wasn’t thrilled.
But then the rain stopped. By 10 my skirt was mostly dry. I had just been about to give up and walk all the way down the road, but the rain stopped. I looked on the weather app and it said no more rain till 3. If that was true. So then I had to make a choice. This was my last chance to go down the road, or it was 16k through the woods, or whatever the via went on. I made the choice to follow the Via.
It did stay dry for a while, but then there were little spurts of rain.
Whenever I get glimpses of the mountains, shrouded in clouds, it reminds me a lot of Costa Rica.
I went through the woods and through some cute little towns.
Right before noon the sky darkened again and I pulled out my app. Now it was saying 40% chance of thunderstorms at noon. Great.
The rain started coming, but it wasn’t hard yet. I thought, “if it’s going to rain hard, it would be nice if a shelter would magically appear just in time.” I rounded the corner and saw an area with covered picnic tables. The rain started coming harder, so I ran for cover.
I had to stand on the bench to be covered, so that’s what I did. And it poured again. Not quite as hard as a thunderstorm, and there was no thunder, but it rained just as hard as it did earlier. I’m sure that wasn’t a coincidence.
It’s really not fun to walk in the rain. It can be miserable under some circumstances. I haven’t been having the easiest time lately, so you might think I would think, “well God really doesn’t care about me if I’m having a hard time and now there’s all this rain.” But God makes it rain on everyone. But I do think He made me stronger so I could handle it. And then the shelter appeared just at the perfect time. Literally the perfect time. And it wasn’t a big deal. It was a brief rain, and I would have gotten soaked, but in 30 mins I would have dried out again. But it was a blessing that I didn’t have to get soaked in the first place. I would say that shows God is mindful of my struggles right now.
It was kind of slow going through the woods, because of large puddles in the way I had to work around.
After the brief rain the sun started coming out. It still rained a few more times, but it was definitely going away.
But everything was still wet. Wet Roman roads covered in leaves are slippery. I was going down a hill and trying to be careful, but I slipped and fell. I landed on my side, but I landed safely and didn’t hurt myself. It did take me a few mins to figure out how to stand up, because my pack was a little askew. I could have taken it off, but that would have been messy, too.
I appear to not have any lasting consequences, but man, this was kind of a rough day. A very long day.
I just kept going. Normally on a longer day like this, I would have taken a break or two, but when it’s raining you can’t sit. If you sit your butt gets wet and then you chafe and then your day really gets crappy. So no sitting, no breaks.
I got into Aulla, but the ostello was on the other side, still another 2k to go. I passed a supermarket, so I stopped in to get some fruit and some food for lunch. I bought two sets of sandwiches. Something that said it was shrimp salad, and ham and mayo. The ham one is ok, I’ve had it before. The “shrimp” one was hiding the shrimp and I’m not sure I ever found it. I will not get that one again. But they were 1.25 E sandwiches. I also got bananas and clementines and some trail mix and a chocolate bar. I ate as I walked. I ate the whole chocolate bar. There’s no point in trying to save it, it would just melt.
I got to the ostello at 2:40, but it said it didn’t open till 3. I sat down to wait, but then Sergio and Fausto came out and they said I could go in.
Apparently when I went to make the reservation at the tourism office yesterday, she made a double reservation including Paul. I said it was just me, but it turned out Paul was already here. He came all the way down the road and he got here at 11:30.
Yesterday I had the best mattress I’ve had in an ostello and today I think I might possibly have the worst mattress to ever exist. It’s really horrible and I may not sleep at all.
The lady had tried making a reservation at a place in Massa for Wednesday, but they said I should call back today after 9 because their booking wasn’t open. I called at 3:45, and she said I should call back at 4 since that’s when they open. I looked online and sure enough it says they open at 4. If they wouldn’t even talk to me 15 minutes early, you can bet they won’t let you in until 4, and that’s pretty late if you want to do laundry. I decided not to mess with them anymore and I found a hotel on booking.com for an extra 40 E that lets me in at 1. I’ve been staying at a lot of pilgrim places lately, so an extra hotel here and there is just what I need. And I need something to look forward to after this mattress that I haven’t even not slept on yet.
I moved the mattress from the top bunk to the bottom. Thankfully no one else showed up so I didn’t have to feel guilty. I didn’t want to sleep on the top bunk, so moving the mattresses was really the best option. I was going to ask someone to help me, but I was able to do it by myself. When I picked up my mattress it completely folded in on itself. I will sleep tonight!!
I went to dinner with Paul, Sergio, and Fausto. Paul and Fausto get into some interesting disagreements lol.
This place was amazing. Pilgrim menu for 10 E. I had pasta, then “fried chicken” which was nuggets, and fries. They also brought out what Fausto called “pizza bread.” Holy cow that was amazing. It made the whole meal. Basically just pizza crust with salt and rosemary and something else. Sooooo good. I also got a piece of “cake” for 4 E more. It was apple pie with raisins. It was ok. Really, really good meal.