This trip has been amazing but if there has been a down side it has been my inabilty to get WiFi. Before I left home I purposely called into the EE shop to discuss my requirements because I wanted to be able to update this log on a regular basis and keep family and friends in touch with my progress and share with them the highs and not so highs of life on G R Dix.
Unfortunately my in ability to get 4 G and the lack of free WiFi in many of the places I have stayed has meant I have not been able to provide more regular updates to this blog. I am now in Arles Sur Tech. It is the end of day 33 of my trek and my last blog entry refers to my departure from Fos which I belive was day 22. Much has happened since then so I will try and give you a quick summary.
From Fos I headed to the wonderly named Ellie D’Haut, a tiny hamlet that was a former mining village. Evidence of the mining industry was everywhere, including at the gite I stayed at in the evening. The gite is in is what looks like a former school and the gite gardian his wife invite the guests into their home for the meals which is a across the stream and is raised up above the village giving a wonderful view of the surrounding hills and the valley below. The interior is like a museum to the mining industry with lots of photos and pieces of equipment on display arou d the dining room. It was a wonderful meal and I can’t remember when I enjoyed mashed potato as much as I did that night. Luckily I ate a hearty meal because the next night I was not so lucky. From Ellie d Haut I took an alternative route on a varient to the main route which has been added specifically so people who are not camping can find accommodation. Unlucky for me it was Saturday and the Gites in the first two villages I tried were full. At about 4 pm I was 4 hours away from a third village, the small community of Esbintz. I had called a few times but only got an answering machine but tried a 3rd time. I was feeling pretty low by this point. It was . Just at this moment a young lady came in the opposite direction and asked me if I could help her find the path. Her name was Miriam, and she was heading up to the lake about 10k up the valley but had list the path. Miriam very kindly called the gite and advised me the number had changed. She called the new number for me and spoke to them. Unfortunately the were full as there was a wedding in the villages and the reception was at the gite. The lady explained the only other place she could suggest was a small cabin about 40 minutes before the village. There was nothing for it. I was going to have to use the cabin. Miriam and I set about finding the path and proceeded up to the lake. It was nice to have the company. She offered to give me part of her food but I had no means of cooking it but it was a really nice gesture which did a lot to lift my spirits. I left Miriam by the lake and I headed further up the valley to the Col before descending to the cabin and making myself as comfortable as possible, enjoying my evening meal of 200 grams of salted cashew nuts and a dessert of 100 grams of peanut M&m’s.
The next morning I woke cold and hungry and set off in search of breakfast. This arrived about 40 minutes later when I bumbed into about a dozen British lads, all ex soldiers.
They were raising money for a charity called care after combat, by walking the Chemin de liberty, the route used to get allied troops out of France to safety and in to Spain through the Pyranees. One of the guys, Craig, had become ill and had been forced to pull out. His loss was my gain and he very kindly gave me the contents of his ration pack that didn’t need cooking. Never has chocolate covered Kendal mint cake tasted so good. It was really my good fortune to meet these guys. Without that food I would have been in big trouble because when I arrived at the gite for breakfast it was closed, so too was the next gite 2 hours up the track, and so too was the creperie where I was planning to have lunch.
I battled on to the next village were there was an Aurberg. Closed with a big for sale sign on the door.
There was nothing for it but to continue to the village of St Lizier where there was a pub / restaurant and a camp shop. Guess what they were both closed.
Without the help of the guys from http://www.Careaftefcombat.com I could have starved. Thanks guys
The next day started in the pouring rain and it was a miserable start. In fa t it rained for the entire journey. The whole 6 hours to Ax Les Bains. However what happened on the way will live ling in my memory. It is one the highlights of the trip.
On the trail ahead of were 3 shepherd’s with 400 sheep they were bringing off the hills. There was no way I could get passes them. The mountain was too steep and the path too narrow. We were all heading for a bridge about 30 minutes away. There was nothing to be done except lend a hand in rounding up some the strays that were trying to head back up the mountain.
When we got to the bridge I shook hands with my 3 Co workers and headed off down the mountain with a glow of self satisfaction that the rain couldn’t extinguish. It was a wonderful experience being involved.