|Leaving Condom on the GR 65|
Today, after enjoying a good night's sleep, we decided to walk the 33 kms to Eauze instead of stopping halfway in Montréal. This was our first distance test for Robin's leg. The day broke with a heavy cloud cover that looked like rain was still possible. We opted for rain pants instead of hiking pants, slung our packs, and stepped out of our hotel and into the already busy streets of Condom. It was just on 8:00 as we maneuvered to the bridge that led us out of town (see photo opposite). The temperature was just shy of 60 F. I opted for a short sleeve t shirt, and Robin chose a long sleeve shirt plus her rain jacket. We picked up the GR 65 striped markers and were on our way. Robin felt refreshed and I felt like I had some mileage in me as well. Some days are just like that. Almost immediately we ran into some friends and we walked in company all the way to Montréal. The discussion along the way helped pass the time. The terrain was quite suitable for a longer day's walk, being mostly flat with some easy climbs. A bit more on this in a moment. The morning drew on and the humidity started to climb. By 11:00 the temp was 75 F and very muggy. We marched into Montréal at 11:30 with a full head of steam. Despite the humidity and rising temperatures we felt strong and managed to avoid any rain. Robin had already changed her rain pants for a skirt before Montréal. We found a cafe in the square, near the church, and sat down for coffee, and a light lunch. We introduced ourselves to a couple of German guys who happened to arrive with us. One guy was from Bavaria, and was not doing well in the humidity, and warmer temperatures. He longed to be back on the Aubrac Plateau. He said he was 72, and felt he was too old for this kind of walking. But, he pressed on, nonetheless. My guess is that he will do fine.
After days of wheat fields today was all about grapes. We walked near, past, alongside, and through huge vineyards most of the day. They were simply everywhere. Very pleasant change. The afternoon's portion of the walk was 16 kms, and it started well. I had made a note in my Miam Miam Do Do guide book to follow the railroad out of Montréal. At some point I read something, about the railroad, that I thought was a short cut. Robin and I kept looking for the railroad that was meant to be our yellow brick road to Eauze. As we moved along I commented how fortunate we were to have this wide flat path to follow out of Montréal. We wondered aloud just how long this beautifully clear, flat, and open path would last. Then, it dawned on me, we were walking on an old railroad right of way that had seen the rails and ties removed. This was a true pilgrim highway that made the final hours of our 33 km day so much easier. This was by far the best, and the longest stretch of trail so far since Le Puy. If anyone is considering doing a longer stage this one is very doable. We arrived at the church, and our lodging in the Cafe de France, at 4:15. Great day's walk. Robin did just fine. She (and I) are feeling the aches of a strenuous day, but nothing serious.
We did have a but of rain and strong winds as a thunderstorm system collided with us about 3:00 this afternoon. The day was hot and humid and you just knew something was going to happen. All day the clouds were darkening. It was just a matter of time, before the storm would find us. One of the dreads of walking in rain, in warmer weather, is the need to be wrapped up in either a rain suit or poncho. I had been thinking about this before we left, and decided to buy a couple of Golite trekking umbrellas (8 oz. each). Today, when the rain started, instead of dawning rain jackets, and pants for Robin, and roasting, we popped open our umbrellas, and carried on. The winds were gusting up to 30 mph, but we were walking on a path that had tall vegetation on both sides. This helped shield us from the wind, and rain. But, we could not have been more pleased with how the umbrellas performed. We walked past a guy all zipped up in his poncho, and I just knew he was dying. I offered a rain muffled "bon jour" as we passed, and he just seemed stunned that someone, wearing only a t shirt, was surviving this tempest. I did have my rain pants on, but Robin walked through the storm in a Marmot skirt that was almost dry as soon as the rain stopped. We are now certified umbrella converts. They just work, and remember the sun shade aspect as well.
We are now sitting at a terrace table in front of the Café de France, our home for the night, enjoying a well earned glass of beer. BTW, when we checked in we were quickly made aware that this building, at some point provided shelter to the mother of Henry IV, a French version of George Washington slept here. I checked the tariff, you don't have to be royalty to enjoy a night here. So far it has been great. Robin has an APOC facebook acquaintance, Gerard, who lives in Eauze. He is Dutch, and represents the Dutch pilgrim association. He has kindly invited us to his home for dinner. We are looking forward to meeting him, and his wife Magda, and enjoying something other than pilgrim fare for dinner tonight. It is now close to 7:00 pm, the sun is now out, offering a pleasant mix of late afternoon light and shadows. We are just being still, enjoying the afterglow of a wonderful day walking the Chemin. Deux autre bières s'il vous plait .
|Victor keeps turning up|