Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Camino Primitivo Alternate Route (April 1, 2020) - Day 6 La Mesa to Grandas de Salime

Today was a superb day for walking...bright sunshine 5C at 4:50 am when I started. Overall walked 25.9 kms...have now covered 150.2 kms in total. So roughly 160 kms to Santiago de Compostela. It will be my 3rd time walking into Santiago de Compostela so the excitement is building!

I am now within 7.2 kms of A Fonsagrada which was tomorrow's objective! Incredible given the difficulty of the Camino date the elevation gains have been over 5,000 meters with elevation losses of 4,700 meters. Over a 6 day period I am quite sure that would be the toughest stretch of any previous Camino including the Via Jacobi in Switzerland.

A confession here...I am feeling very badly and guilty today. Yesterday I mentioned that the fellow with the dog and big orange ball had for the first time yesterday walked by me without the orange ball.  Today the same ball! I am thinking he probably has been using the orange ball for years...playing with his dog and suddenly after a simple sideways glance from me he feels awkward. I may well have ruined his fun...and I am very truly sorry for this!

Starting at 4:50 am has it's challenges...especially when I am walking and entering blog ideas on my iPhone in the dark. You see if I don't walk in a straight line I risk falling down the stairs you have seen in an earlier they are again in daylight.
Risk falling down the stairs in darkness!

This got me to thinking about the many many risks that I have encountered over my various Camino walks...blizzard in France, countless dangerous bridges/walkways crossed some as high as 1.5 meters high, dead and one very much alive 50 meters ahead of me, dogs, dogs, dogs running out of nowhere and trying to scare me, loose chickens on the road, thunderstorms, hail, cars whizzing by too close to shoulder of the road, slipping on wet rocks/tree roots ascending or descending...and so many more!

Of all the dangers that came to mind one in particular stood out this morning at an early hour. The ever dangerous...fearsome cow!

So I thought I would go back to previous Blog posts and pick out 3 instances where I have had  terrifying cow encounters...2 on Camino routes...1 on the Thames River walk. Here they are unedited! A word of should not read these prior to going to bed...possibility for cold sweats, night terrors and nightmares!

Day 2 (Aug 2, 2013) - Via Jacobi, Switzerland Schwellbrunn to Watwill

Cow incident

Sooner or later I was worried this would happen...face to face with a Swiss cow with no fence between us. Well it did on one of the off the beaten path trails...the cow (see facsimile below) was essentially blocking the trail...and not moving.
Disclaimer - not cow in was much bigger!

The mind does funny things in times of severe stress...mine went into option mode...I could think of five options.

Option 1 - try to sneak under the cow
Option 2 - attach my 2 trekking poles and pole vault over the cow

Neither seemed like a good option...pilgrim dies when squished by cow or pilgrim seen riding a cow in pain after failed attempt to pole vault it.

Option 3 - try to shoo it away...however after all my limited communication attempts with people what were my chances with a

Option 4 - go behind the cow
Option 5 - go ahead of the cow

Option 4 was possible however was worried it could "backfire" on me if the timing was off so to speak.

I went with Option 5 keeping my eyes locked on the cow ( it had no horns and it's ears were swishing) and all went well until...the cow starting following me. This lasted only a few minutes however I was already wondering how I would explain this at the B&B.

Day 37 (Oct 15, 2013) - Le Puy Route France Nasbinals to Saint Come d'Olt

After Saint-Chely d'Aubrac the Chemin for the next few kilometres was quite simply brutal...very rocky, steep and extremely slippery. It was a physical and mental struggle all the way. That is one stretch that I have no interest in redoing!

During this descent I suddenly found myself in a small herd of Aubrac cows with horns and no protective fence! I gingerly sidestepped a few of them, within a meter or so, and made my way to a gate where I lifted the latch.

Bad move as a small electric current went through me...electrical fence! I backtracked 10 metres or so and found where I missed the trail...and there was a giant cow. There was no way around it and vice versa so a Mexican cow standoff started. The cow put his head down and made a snorting I climbed over the stone fence into a pasture...
Fence at right

...and promptly fell into mud or so I think it was mud...will need a good shower tonight! I then moved to the side of the cow and it moved forward...PHEW... I was on my way!

Thames River Walk (Sep 26, 2015) - Abington to Shillingford

Well it's time! Here is what happened as best as I can remember...I am shaking as I am writing this. First the sign (ok the sign was after we saw the cows and protecting walkers coming from the opposite direction however folks please pretend!)
The sign which left me shaking!!!

Next we are in the field where Dave and I are quickly are surrounded by cows...most of them looking mean and hungry! They seem to have a leader too. We were really scared and each picked up the best weapon available....cow patties.

Just when we were ready to throw them along strolls Dennis and he walks right into the cows...and unbelievably they part. He is like Moses leading us through the desert! We are stunned and grateful until we get too close to Dennis and understand why. 

Hmm...his shirt has not been washed for who knows how long and the cows accepted him as their new leader! We were really grateful for Dennis' leadership...he has earned the title "Master leader through cow herds" and we will have to find a way to fully recognize this feat of bravery.
Before they circled Dave and me!!!

Well that's a wrap for today...on to tomorrow where I will cross the mid point of the Camino Primitivo adventure!

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