Monday, 30 September 2013

Via Gebennensis (September 30, 2013) - Day 23 Yenne to Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers

Actually I'm a little past Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers by about 1.5 km. Overall a very quiet day...did not get lost, no dangerous animals, nice weather as rain held off, no overnight ghosts and I did not meet a single St. Jacques pelerin.

Breakfast is always the place to start...this morning a simple buffet style

I may have slipped a few dried apricots for the road as you will see later. I was the only person at breakfast and a few minutes early to boot however the nice lady had everything ready...gave her a Canadian lapel pin and started walking at 7:40.

The first 16 km or so to Saint-Maurice-de-Rotherens was almost entirely mountain trails with a fair amount of elevation gain at over 700 metres. It took me over 4.5 hours and I was often working pretty hard (read drenched in sweat). A few pictures showing how rough the trail was in sections are shown below...sure was thankful for the Vibram soles of my Merrell trail shoes. Lesser footwear would have been a problem.

Tough trail section!!!

The going was quite slow at times simply because of wet conditions...I really used the trekking poles to steady myself and tried to be extra careful...all went well.

The guide books indicated that a variant trail should be followed in winter or foggy conditions. Neither applied as far I could tell so I went the regular way. Once on top the fog was pretty thick however I felt very safe sticking to the trail as it skirted the mountain ridge. Suffice to say that straying 5 to 10 feet or so to the right would not have been a good idea. 

Past those trees is a tremendous view and drop I think!

Later in the day - believe I walked along the top of the mountain

A little thank to the folks who maintain the trails...and for those little extras like cairns when the official signs are few and far between:

Small cairn

Medium cairn

Very large cairn

Had lunch and took care of blister prevention in Saint-Maurice-de-Rotherans

A little sparse however an improvement over some others

Further homage to WW1 sacrifices

WW1 Saint-Maurice-de-Rotherans - 15 soldiers died...current population 217

WW1 Gresin - 26 soldiers died...current population 360

In Gresin I was unsure of where the trail went...a lady stopped her car and pointed out the right path. She had a young son...maybe 7 or so...gave them each a Canadian lapel pin. The look on his face...priceless.

The scenery opened up in the afternoon and the walking was once again special...

Afternoon walking

Afternoon walking

Quite late in the day I came across a stand for St. Jacques de Compostelle walkers...totally on the honour system...and they even had a pilgrim stamp for my pilgrim book.

Stand with honour system

I bought a drink and a small cake, in the shape of a shell, for 1.1 profit there! This was a real lift and I left feeling lighter than ever..a few minutes later I had to come back and get my trekking poles!

Finally a little mystery that I would like to solve...came cross a memorial on the trail today:

Mystery memorial had the St. Jacques shell and an inscription Ultreia (onwards) 2008

I am now resting very comfortably in a Chambre d'Hotes called Sur le Chemin de Guiers run by Pascale. 

Future Pilgrims

Again this Chambre d'Hotes is very highly rated in my opinion. It has a room with 5 beds in it in typical gite fashion plus a very large room upstairs. The price is the same for a pelerin in either room at 40 euros for demi pension. I am lucky enough to have the upstairs room as two other pelerins have cancelled and I am the only guest.

My room

View from balcony attached to room

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Via Gebennensis (September 29, 2013) - Day 22 Motz to Yenne

A little apprehensive about today for a few reasons...70% chance or rain, thunder showers expected, a 34 km day which should be my longest of this Camino and a requirement to be at the Clos des Capucins no later than 5pm (more on this later). Monique, the owner of the Auberge de Motz, suggested I might want to stop on Chanaz which was 18km away due to the weather...well intentioned however added to my concerns for the day.

First back to last nights supper which was superb...a little sad because some setting on the camera was off..those darn gremlins! However the menu was a salmon puff pastry, followed by a pork creole dish served with rice and white beans...completed by a chocolate mousse. Really tasty and just right quantities...this time I just waited patiently until the indication was given that supper was over.

Breakfast this morning was a small French bread baguette, a croissant and a small chocolate puff thing...again no picture!

Early morning picture

I was in the restaurant as soon as it was open and left early at 7:20...still a little dark. I felt great and decided that today was a day to push a little harder for several reasons:

The forecast was for light rain in the morning and increasing with thundershowers in the afternoon...the objective was to walk as far as possible before the rain was quite nice as I started.

I wanted to be at the Clos des Capucins as I had already cancelled in August...did not want to do this twice.

Felt good as I had a great long email from Dawn at home and a very flattering comment on my blog from Jeanne (read middle daughter!) about facial hair...always nice to hear some news from home or from anyone really!

The morning walk was forest trails, dike walking and some road walking...nice and conducive to setting a good pace.

Dike walking

And now the weird looking at photo presentations on the Via Gebennensis on You Tube prior to the trip 3 out 6 of them showed a snake on their walk...somewhere in size between a garter and anaconda. Later in the morning I walked through some swampy type land which felt like snake I just motored on by!

Walking speed

One thing for sure there is no right walking speed. For me 3 kms an hour feels really slow and is probably more for uphill walking, 4 kms an hour feels comfortable and is the speed of the estimated times set by the St. Jacques association and 5 kms an hour is city walking at a energetic clip. 

For others it an example my brother Marc consistently leaves me in the dust when we hike in the problem as we meet at key intersections. I understand that most Camino walkers  have the same issue and that often some separation between friends/couple develops during the day.

Today I expected to walk 34 km. there was an indication from the sign postings that the distance was slightly longer and my Bad Elf device registered 36.4 kms over 7.5 hrs or 4.8 kms per hour. I have no intention of repeating this effort!

Signs - a few interesting ones today...

Banks of Rhome river subject to sudden flooding

Sign indicates St. Jacques path is to the you really think one would walk in the river?

Attention sheep - can they really read?

You remember my earlier blog comment on hunting? Today is Sunday...came across two hunters. One an older guy wearing a red vest and hat with his rifle slung across his back...the other a younger guy holding his rifle nonchalantly in his hand...he had the type of dog that runs after dead ducks floating in the water.

We exchanged bonjours and I prayed that neither of them was a wanted fugitive...should have given Canadian lapel pins for safe keeping. My backpack is bright red as is the rain cover, plus I walk with sticks...I should be ok.

Wild boar hunting - they could be a dangerous animal

Speaking of which!!! They are back...followed me from Switzerland!

At around 10:30 I reached Chanaz...absolutely beautiful village...Dawn you would love this place, boulangerie with pattiseries, ice cream parlour, great street with shops along the river and river cruises. 

Today was Sunday and I was not properly prepared from a food perspective...another reason to walk faster as I did not expect to eat much until Yenne. The boulangerie was open so I went in to buy a sandwich, maybe a cookie and a drink. 

Boulangerie - Tartelette au citron and caramel avec pacanes

I had the caramel one immediately and kept the other one for later...what energy food...again Canada food guide compliant (caramel = fruit and vegetables)

The afternoon was spent mostly walking through vineyard country...really really impressive with huge expanses of hill country covered in vineyards.

Coming out of the vineyards a good climb up to the chapel St. Roch and then a really interesting walk on top of a steep cliff and then a long descent towards Yenne.

Walked on top along the ridge

WW1 casualties 18 for Jonguieux - current population 297

Finally I had a request from my sister Pauline for a self

Self Portrait...Snazzy I know!

I am now at the Clos des Capucins in Yenne...really neat place...see below.

Future Pilgrims

The reason I had to be here by 5pm is that it's Sunday and I am the only guest today! Martine the head person here showed me the supper room where everything had been laid out for me!

Salad, salad dressing, pork chops, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, three cheeses, mug of red wine, bread and for dessert tiramisu!!!

I kept some cheese and bread for tomorrows lunch and gave 3 Canadian lapel pins to staff here...seemed quite happy to receive them. My room is quite large with in room facilities, Wifi available and breakfast tomorrow...all for 42 Euros!

The Clos des Capucins was first built in 1642 and twice in their history the Capucins monks were expelled...last time in 1903. There are 28 guest rooms.

All good...WRONG!!! Can you imagine the history here...all alone. This place must have ghosts! Can they go through locked doors? I will be sleeping with my trekking poles tonight!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Via Gebennensis (September 28, 2013) - Day 21 Frangy to Motz

Today was a quiet easy day...well maybe a few kms more than planned (see Future Pilgrims)...walking 22.2 kms over 5 hours or so. Great weather again...unfortunately the outlook is for steady rain for the next two days.

So far no blisters..shoulders complaining a bit however a good start!

Breakfast was later than I have been used to at 8:15...think I may have to get used to this. Not a big deal considering I had short day ahead of me. 

My breakfast

Hot chocolate sure tasted great! After breakfast I gave Mme. Lupin, the auberge owner, 3 lapel pins as she had a few other employees. Well here is the ensuing conversation...first her daughter spent the fall semester as an exchange student in Matane Quebec. I mentioned that one of my daughters, Claire, had complete a similar exchange in Troyes France while in University...Mme Lupin was quite familiar with city of Troyes.

Mme Lupin asked me where I was from in Canada...when I told her it turns out that 3 weeks ago a couple from my home town spent 1 week at her Auberge. They were cycling in the region and it was their 12th trip to France to cycle! Scott you must make the trip!

I mentioned that two of our daughters, Lise and Jeanne, were currently working in Japan. Well last spring Mme Lupin and her husband went to Japan...told her that Dawn and I had visited Japan in the fall of 2012.

This conversation started with 3 small plastic Canadian lapel pins.

Once again the scenery was worth the walk... including a number of interesting houses.

Walking was once again a mixture of forest walking and small country road walking. There was some elevation gain however I find the elevation gains so far on the Via Gebennensis to be gradual...sometimes long however not as heart pounding as the billy goat walking in the early part of the Via Jacobi in Switzerland.

Very quiet day on the dangerous animal front...

Two little guys made quite the noise however the fence protected me!

Walked right by these cows without a worries...very brave around cows now!

I set out this morning wearing long pants as it was cool however within a very short time I was zipping off the pant legs of my North Face pants. Some of you may remember an earlier post on the Tilley pants however I think the North Face pants may well be the world's best!

Colour coded pant leg zippers!

As I entered a forest trail section I noticed two pilgrims ahead of me with Camino shells. I may have quickened my pace a bit to reach them...a couple from Bavaria in Germany who spoke some English. They have walked through Switzerland and are now starting the French section...they do 200 or so kms a year. The woman joked that in 2020 they would reach Santiago de Compostela. I gave her a Canadian lapel pin...he simply pointed to the one I had given and indicated all was good!

I arrived at the Auberge in Motz around was closed however a man saw me and then asked his wife, Monique, to open the Auberge for me. They run the Auberge which is in old historic renovated building owned by the Mairie of Motz. As soon as I entered she offered me water and some time later gave me a chunk of delicious closed until 19:00.

I showed Monique a few Canadian lapel pins and asked if she had any children...turns out she had two cute young kids...girl maybe between 1 and 2 and a boy a few years later. Rather than giving them to her children herself she called them over and I handed out the pins...she explained the maple leaf and pinned them on their t-shirts...was kinda neat to see.

Just outside the Auberge is the church built in 1597!

The ever present memorial to World War 1 - Motz lost 28 men with population less than 400 today

Of note Motz lost 4 men in World War 2...I understand that WW1 was really severe from a human loss point of view however wonder if a village like Motz had nothing left to give when WW2 was fought. I have resolved to becoming much more knowledgeable about this history when I return home.

Finally I feel I missed a golden opportunity to educate myself this morning as I passed by a Musee...

Museum of cows and pastures - why did I not go in?

Future Pilgrims

Auberge de Motz is on a variant of GR 65 after Pont du Fier. Everything about this auberge is really nice...would gladly return and spend vacation time here. Monique who runs the Auberge with her husband is really helpful and I look forward to supper tonight...demi pension 50 Euros.

I was set to not recommend the Auberge given the difficulty I had finding it, the additional 4 kms that I had not planned on and the the road walking on a well travelled road. As I mentioned this to Monique she was somewhat turns out the sign for the GR65 variant has disappeared and they have been unable as of yet to have it replaced. I would have walked 2 kms in a forest rather than what I did. 

Also tomorrow there is a clear way forward that will rejoin the Chemin St. Jacques without any backtracking. 

Don't hesitate staying at the Auberge however make sure to ask about the route past the Pont sur Le Fier...take the forest path to the left right after the bridge...I remember seeing it well however did not know where it went!