It's Actually More Like a Hike at A Beginners Pace
For many months, Lydia has challenged me to do the "Camino de Santiago", "The Way of Saint James" with her. Years ago Lilly and I had discussed doing the Appellation Trail "sometime." But the day never came. So when Lydia threw out the bone, I snatched it up. Since the plan to do the 500 mile pilgrimage from somewhere in southern France to the northwest coast of Spain, we thought it highly important to begin preparing ahead of time. The goal of the long walk is next summer. That means, not only gathering equipment preparations, but also walking, lots of walking with a "pack" on our backs.
Last night we packed our backpacks with extra shoes, nuts, apples and carrots, bottles of water, a rug for a nap on the ground if necessary, walking sticks, other anticipations and her phone, of course. Carys, age five chose to go, Gabriel and Gaia were the backup crew. They were to take us out and finally meet up with us at a village bar in the mountains for a coffee celebration and chips.
When morning came the sky was full of ugly clouds and thunder, with threats of rain. By 7:30 a.m. we were ready to go out the door and through the garden gate. But alas, it was raining. We thought it not wise to rush off on an excursion that we'd never experienced before. So Lydia left a note on the table for Gabriel and we went to the bar for our morning coffee and a sweet pastry to await the verdict of the skies.
After a while Gabriel and the Girls came and since the rain had passed over, they had their drink and sweets, then we all walked home, loaded our back packs into the Fiat and headed out for the Abby. Carys stayed with us for second coffees, hers was milk, and our crew returned to the base camp. A last wash up in the bathroom, a quick confirmation on the "road west" from the bar keeper, and we were off.
Down the road past the Abby and a family of picnickers at the bottom of the hill, then around the slight curve and up a farm field tractor road with vineyards on the right and mountain drop off on the left. The sign post by the Abby indicated the village of our destination would be 1 hour and 45 minutes. Since we are not broken in hikers, Lydia estimated our travel time to be at least 3 hours.
Along the dirt paths and roads we went. More up than level or down for a while. At the top of the road where the vineyard ended, weeds and trees began. We ran into a small patch of black berries... so delicious. A sign post indicated the direction and we marched forward. I have to say, "Carys is a great little trooper!" and Lydia the best of guides. The old man of the prairies was far out of his element, but we all tramped on.
The tractor road turned into a foot path between private properties and after five or ten minutes we were back on a lopsided dirt road. More of the same, alternating, until we came to a narrow black top. Along that nice road we ambled at varying speeds such as our ascending or descending feet allowed. Eventually we came to a settlement of two or three houses.
Then the road changed again to a different color black top and was very winding as we descended to a brick bridge and gray top high way with white strips along each side, which we could see far away. About a forth of the way down, Carys tripped on her shoe string. The fall on the pavement bunged up her knee and the heel of her hand. Thanks to Lydia's foresight, she had a first aid kit.
By this time, Lydia had brought out the rug a couple of times, so Carys had a lie down rest and I took the chair from my back pack to have a sit down, as well. I think Lydia sat on the ground. On arrival at the bridge we stopped for a lunch of nuts and seeds with an apple and a full grown carrot. Lydia hunted the next road sign and finally a passing motorist gave information.
Now, on the white stripped highway we walked the white strip facing the traffic. Until that point we hadn't seen any people or traffic. At the white strip road we got people in both tractors and cars. From there on, it was up, up, up and many, many sharp curves. There simply was no where else to go and nothing else to do, but creep along that up hill road, so that's what we just kept doing.
At the top of the hill we came to a house, then two as the road turned again and we saw a village with a name. It was next before our selected destination, but it had no bar and the one were we found ourselves after four and a half hours of pretty steady walking, had two!!! The other village was only one or two kilometers farther. So we chose to stop near the bar and wait for Gabriel and Gaia to come so we all ate together.
It never rained any more, the sun was not, too, hot and the breezes were nice most of the time. It was a great day of walking, talking and fun with my girls. Sorry you couldn't all have come. And we finished our walk after more than twice the expected time. But to my notion it was a very profitable day.