Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 30: Arzacq-Arraziguet to Arthez de-Béarn (30 kms)

Wet start to the day

We had an early night last night, and slipped into bed at 9:00. This morning we pushed the shutters open to find the rain that had been forecasted to fall, actually falling. We through on our rain pants and jackets, and our gaiters. The gaiter issue gets a lot of ink on various forums as to wether you need them or not on the Chemin, or on one of the Spanish Caminos. This is what I have learned. If you are hiking in long pants, in muddy conditions, gaiters will help keep your pants clean. Mud frequently finds its way up to your knees so short gaiters keep you clean up to the limit of their height. I prefer to hike in my rain pants when the path is muddy, as they clean up easily and dry quickly. If it is just muddy conditions then I usually don't use gaiters. I just rinse off the pants at night, and let them drip dry. However, if it is raining (good steady rain) then I wear gaiters, but put them underneath my rain pants. This allows the water running off the rain pants to run off onto the gaiter instead of down through the top of my boots. My rain pants are just a bit shorter than I would like them to be, so this takes care of that. I am using Versalite from Montbell and its lightness makes it an easy choice for hiking even when it is not raining. While I am on the subject of gear, one of the best pieces of clothing both Robin, and I brought with us was the Montbell plasma down jacket. These jackets weigh around 4.5 ounces, and we have used them daily for evening wear. They have been perfect for the Chemin. We will see how much they are needed once we get to Spain.

Okay, back to today's walk. We left town with surprisingly fewer pilgrims compared to yesterday's departure from Aire-sur-l'Adour. Maybe they were all sleeping in after yesterday's efforts. The rain was falling gently, but steadily. The wind was just about calm. We popped open our umbrellas and set off. Just before we started our first uphill I ditched my rain jacket, Robin shed hers shortly thereafter. It was fine walking in long sleeve shirts, rain pants, while using our umbrellas. The rain eventually let up around 11:00, and shifted to light, widely scattered showers. Actually, we had pretty dry weather for most of the afternoon. The rain started falling only after we reached Arthez at 3:30.

The terrain today was a split between hill climbs, and descents, and flat valley floor walking. It did seem we had a lot more hill climbing today than we have seen in the last couple of days. We could have done just fine without the final chug uphill into Arthez. We did have some muddy sections, but we never did hit a real bog. We always found at least semi solid ground to squish through. We also caught a fleeting glimpse of the Pyrenees today as the cloud cover opened up for just a bit before closing in again. Once again there was a significant amount of road walking, on fairly quiet rural roads. Both Robin and I seem to be adjusting to these 30 km days. We have one more tomorrow before the stages shorten. The stage distances on the Norte and Primitivo is another story, for another day. Let us just get to St. Jean first. Overall, it was a very quiet day. We only met a handful of fellow pilgrims, found a coffee spot open, and were somewhat surprised to find a drill rig prospecting for oil just a stone's through from the GR 65. We have splurged and are staying at a very luxurious Chambre d'Hôte in Arthez, that just happens to be right next door to the communal gîte. Dinner will be served in 30 minutes, and then it is off again to an early bed. All is well. Thanks for checking in on us.

Still a happy pilgrim
The drill rig
And now the wildlife report
Unsettled sky
Road walking
House hunting
The sun peaking through
Cloud hunting
Lunch break
Home for tonight
Dinner for two



  1. Wow, you see "terre amoureuse" sticks to you like a lover! I have a photo of my boots exactly like that! Mud splatters on the pants and all! Thanks for sharing..

  2. John -- I look forward to reading your blog every day. Thanks so much for writing about your journey. I am so glad to hear that Robin's leg is doing well! Buen Camino! Kate Golden