Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 31: Arthez de Béarn to Navarrenx (32 kms)

Fritz, one of the owners of Domaine de la Carrère, our lodging last night, offered us a 4 km shortcut for today's walk. You can't get lost he assured me. He even drew a map that Long John Silver would have appreciated. We set out in 49 F weather with steady light rain falling. The shortcut was becoming an even more brilliant idea. We made the first turn on the map, and after that a certain vagueness of where we actually were going started to worry us. There were similar houses, horses in fields, but not all in keeping with our treasure map. So we plowed on relying on a general sense of direction until we were well and truly lost. We finally decided we needed some adult supervision, and knocked on a door. I humbly announced that we were lost to the two men who answered the door. They turned out to be Pierre, and Michèle. Michèle as it turned out owned the corn fields we had been Inspecting for the last couple of hours. He was visiting Pierre to share some photos of his new grand daughter. They knew immediately where we needed to go. Perhaps the backpacks tipped them off. There was much map drawing on a steno pad, and then Michèle, sensing a more practical solution was needed, offered to show me to where we needed to go. His car was a hatchback and only had one passenger seat. Robin stayed with Pierre while Michèle showed me how lost we were. It became clear that somehow Robin would have to be brought to me rather than me going back to her. Michèle got my drift, and was ready to head back to Pierre's to pick Robin up when a car honked behind us. Here was Saint Pierre, with Robin. We offered our profuse thanks to these two great guys, and walked across the bridge leading to Maslacq. Happy to be on the GR 65 once again. No complaints regarding the rain were forthcoming. Adding blessing upon blessing, there was a very nice, and warm, hotel in Maslacq that was open for coffee. We hauled over and rested a bit, and thought about how far a little kindness goes in this world. A tip of the hat to Saint Pierre and Saint Michèle. Thank you for your kindness.

The day was forecasted to dry out, but it took its time getting there. At some point this morning, before one climb or another, our rain jackets came off and umbrellas carried the day whenever a shower came through. It was mostly a chilly day with temps never breaking 55 F. The nice thing was that once the rain stopped the humidity took a dive and by mid afternoon, there was an almost autumnal feeling to the cool breeze drying our damp shirts. Walking today was surprisingly challenging, as we found ourselves going up and down quite steep climbs and descents a good part of the day. The morning was a bit flat, but by the time we reached the Abbaye de Sauvelade some serious interval training began. It only flattened out in the approaches to Navarrenx. It was a very tiring day, but on the plus side we got a few glimpses of the Pyrenees once again. They are oh so close, and beautiful.

Navarrenx is bustling with pilgrims. I don't know how we lost track of so many people after Aire, but here they all are. This town, today, is all about pilgrims. They fill the bars, restaurants, and what few shops are open (it is Monday in France after all). By Thursday all this group will have arrived in St. Jean Pied de Port, ready to celebrate. It has been fun walking with this group. Some will carry on to Santiago, and those friendships will deepen with each passing kilometer. Those who head home from St. Jean will be missed, but most will return at some point, for the call of Santiago is hard to ignore. Robin and I are tired but happy. We got through the day with no greater adversary than fatigue, and that is easily remedied. So with dinner and some nice Bordeaux wine inside us we are ready to crash. More tomorrow, as this leg of our journey starts to wind down. Three days to go to St. Jean. We have been so blessed. All is well.

Where all pilgrims stop for lunch
What's behind that gate
Pilgrim shelter
Robin descending (steep isn't it)
I just like old buildings
Something old, something new
Mountains in the background
Bench in a pilgrim rest area
Navarrenx city walls
Old fortifications



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