Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 6, May 31: Saint-Chely-d'Aubrac to Espalion - 23.7 kms

We walked early out of town to the tune of cowbells and a distant cuckoo. Ponchos on for the third day running, it was drizzling when we left but it soon sheeted down and did so on and off throughout the day. 

We had a Camino moment when, after about 8 kms of wind and rain, we stumbled across a little stone shelter with an elderly woman selling coffee/tea for 1 euro. She was so welcoming - obviously not trying to make any money out of it but just offering exhausted pilgrims a place to sit and a hot drink. 

The first 16 kms was extremely hard going - like yesterday but with another 24 hours of rain on the track. When we had explored the wonderful UNESCO heritage town of Saint Come D'Olt at the end of this section, we took one look at the track ahead and thought NO.  It was just a wide mass of deep mud that went on forever uphill with no foliage to cling to anywhere. Just as well there was a small road that went the 6 kms into Espalion where we were staying the night, so we opted for that. Even the road had huge puddles everywhere. Geoff's becoming a pro at leaping over puddles or jumping from one slippery muddy rock to another with gay abandon, pack swaying and poncho billowing out behind him. But not me. I approach such acrobatic feats more gingerly with the cautionary thought that I'm only one step away from a French hospital. 

We saw chestnuts lying all over the ground today and long stretches of chestnut trees; a wonky church steeple; an enormous flowery mushroom; startlingly vibrant stained glass church windows; pink sandstone buildings; a very friendly guy who's a fan of the All Blacks who we weren't expecting to bump into again . . .

It was a much awaited moment when we finally came down off the mountains and hit the Lot Valley with it's river winding through, it's rich alluvial soil for market gardening and it's string of villages along the river classified as among France's 'most beautiful'. We'll be walking through them in the coming days. 

Our dominant sound today was gushing water and it seemed to be pouring out of every conceivable crevice. 

C'est la Vie

Geoff & Lyn

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