Friday, 3 April 2020

Camino Primitivo Alternate Route (April 3, 2020) - Day 8 A Consagrada to O Cadavo

Todays walking was a little more difficult...this has happened on every Camino after a number of days where the excitement level is high. I walked 27.7 kms for a grand total of 200.5 kms so definite progress is being made. Santiago de Compostela is in sight...109.5 kms to go. 

Essentially todays walking is what I have called in the past Point A to Point B walking...scenery was not spectacular, no pilgrims on the trail...this pilgrim was feeling somewhat tired. 

It happens! On a positive note the fellow with the dog and big orange ball made his appearance shortly around 7:00 am so all is good!

Perhaps the day got off to a rocky start listening to a CBC Frontburner podcast talking about COVID - 19 and how Toronto is not doing well in this battle! 

Ok Guy give your head a shake and get back to the walking at hand on the Camino Primitivo!

Some of you have asked if I have been lost over to date...well I have been extra careful over the past 8 days...walking along the same 7 or 8 planks on the a careful rectangle at lower elevations and even venturing in the wild behind the structure in the picture below.
Structure in the wild

It has been difficult to follow the Camino Primitivo trail at times however so far so good! I think I am getting better at this than in my previous 6 Camino walks. To give you a sense of some of the challenges I have faced AND overcome I am including a few descriptions below of previous experiences.

But please do not for a second think I am the type of person who gets lost easily! I follow the signs religiously!!! Typical signs that cause problems.
Difficult sign
Another Difficult sign
Impossible sign
No sign at all!

A sampling of being lost on Camino Paths - NONE are my fault!

Camino Portuguese New Day 12 - Caldas de Reis to Padron

Paulo and I had chosen Os Lambruns as our last night’s accommodation prior to our final day...a luxury which turns out is 3 kms out the Camino way.

After a long day we decided to take a taxi from a specific Camino point to Os Lambruns and the next morning return to the same specific point and resume our walk. Totally kosher.

Seemed logical however hopping into a taxi might be misinterpreted by fellow pilgrims so I was determined to be careful.

What followed in my recollection of events. We wanted a taxi...none to be found. We start walking in circles asking people. At one point we are directed to the following booth to phone in front of a million pilgrims for a taxi!!!!
Pilgrim phone booth

While walking around helplessly... estimate 2 kms, Paulo thinks 500 meters, so let’s say 1.75 kms we turn the corner and see Steffan and Allan wave to us from a bar. Panic sets in...if they see us entering a taxi we will NEVER hear the end of it no matter how logical our reasoning is!

During the walk which I estimate would be 30 to 45 minutes...Paulo might say 15 - 20 so let’s settle on 40 minutes it starts to rain!!! Monsoon like rain, Paulo might say light rain so let’s settle on a heavy downpour.

Finally a nice lady in a supermarket provides Paulo with a phone number and a taxi is there in a few minutes. At this point I gave Paulo some very specific pilgrim avoidance instructions for the taxi...remove hats and slouch in our seats as low as possible...who cares what the taxi driver thinks! We must not get people who do not understand our logical plan providing FAKE NEWS to others!

Day 38 (Oct 16) Saint Come d'Olt to Golinhac

At last night's supper the Urseline nun very clearly and emphatically said we should bypass the GR65 after Saint Come d'Olt and just follow the road to Espalion for a few kilometres. The GR65 was simply a torture test I was told.

I had heard from fellow Camino Forum members that sometimes the GR65 goes way up and down for no particular reason other than to get a specific vantage point for a view. I later heard from other pelerins that this was a terrible section!

So I followed the advice and sailed smoothly into Espalion...well almost! 

I saw the GR65 red & white ballisage and went left...asking 2 elderly folks if I was on le Chemin St. Jacques. Oui both times...big mistake not indicating which direction I wanted to go..dah! I passed the chapelle and started going up a very steep path. After about 10 minutes or so it dawned on me...Guy you DUMMY you are walking back to Saint Come d'Olt! I was doing the path I had averted in reverse!

Back down I came, handed out 2 Canadian lapel pins to people who helped me and after spending an hour or so in Espalion I was on my way finally!

Day 29 (Oct 6) - Bourg Argental to Les Chomats

About two hours from Les Chomats there was a trail section which for close to half an hour was the worst trail I have walked on since the start of my Camino journey. I have walked on a fair number of mountain trails in Canada and this one may take the prize.

It was straight up, very rocky, rutted, full of leaves in places and very wet. You almost feel like you are crawling to get through this section...really have to be careful not to hurt yourself. A few pictures which do not really do justice....actually much worse than the pictures show!
Terribly difficult trail section!!!

I am staying at the Gite Plein Sud outside of Les Chomats. My instructions for finding it were to follow the signs posted prior to coming into Les Chomats....did not see a sign...have since been told it may have fallen.

The backup instructions were to enter Les Chomats and there would be a sign...gite 15 minutes from the sign. I found the sign but it was not very descriptive...walked back and forth a few hundred meters...once after asking a very very very elderly gentlemen about the gite. He told to go back to the village and the gite was there...I did gite...turns out that gite was closed in the early 1900's I think!

So I then went for it and kept walking past the sign..oh first managed to phone the Gite and left a message that I was lost and wandering around aimlessly...first time in days that I have been able to successfully use my phone...cell service in these parts is not too good!

After 10 to 15 minutes and having to dodge a vociferous dog...I phoned again...this time I spoke to someone. By now I was really tired and told the owner I was lost in the wilderness and was about to sit on the road...he asked me questions like which farm I just passed...HOW do I know.

Somehow I must have said something that clicked and Vincent was kind enough to come and pick me way I would have found it!

Day 18 (Sep 25) - Nyons to Geneva

And then I was in Coppet...30 minutes earlier than the average Swiss walker as per time estimates or around 10:15. Here the fun started...followed the signs down Ave de la Gare right to the lake's edge...then the trail petered out as I can't walk on water! (Can think a few people reading this who think they can!)

A lady wished me a Buen Camino so I asked her where the trail went...she did not know. I wandered around for 5 minutes or so and then asked a few guys working. The young guy had no idea however the older gentlemen said I had to go back up Ave de la Gare and take the road which ran parallel to Ave de la Suisse ( this road was a few feet from where I received the directions). So back I went for 5 minutes or so...however I stopped at the train station and asked someone...he was new to Coppet however he asked the bus driver.

The bus driver said to go back down Ave de la Gare and take Ave de la Suisse...straight to Geneva...15 kms. Ok off I went back down to where I was earlier at the lake...walked up Ave. de la Suisse for 5 minutes or so however I knew it wasn't Via Jacobi signs! I was about to turn back when I saw a police station...why not stop as this is an Emergency! The police officer was talking to someone about some burglary of some description and didn't seem to share my sense of emergency so I stared at a wall map of Coppet.

There was the parallel road Ave de Tanney...I had to go past the off I went back up Ave. de la Gare. This time I was very sure...until I walked 5 to 10 minutes on Tanney and again no stupid signs! I was about to scribble a sign "Pilgrim lost - please help" and sit down at a street corner when I came upon an elderly gentlemen...he told me I was on the right path and to keep going to Tanney...I could have hugged him...but I gave him a Canadian lapel pin instead.

I kept walking however it still didn't seem signs again...until I came upon a fork in the road...left/straight/right...take your pick. I decided to go left as it was going towards the lake. After another 5 to 10 minutes minutes or so I was getting ready to lie down in the middle of the road in the hope that I would be sent to the police or something...until I saw a big Tanney sign...I was there...well not quite!

The sign turned out to be an unmanned railway crossing...however there was another elderly gentlemen who was talking on the I raised my arms and poles to ensure he saw me and waited and waited...seemed like forever however he was kind enough to recognize someone in desperate need. I explained that I had lost my way (didn't tell him I was totally clueless at that point and on the verge of a hissy fit) and wanted to walk le Chemin St. Jacques to Geneva. 

Easy he said take the next left...walk until you hit a road and follow it in to Geneva. I was so relieved ...he got a Canadian lapel pin big time. So...a few minutes later my prayers were answered and I was on...Ave de la Suisse...YES the same one where all this started about an hour ago.

So I resigned myself to walking it...knowing that I was carving new pilgrim territory coming in to Geneva. It was actually a fairly pleasant walk all the way in (about 12 or 13  kms at that point)...
Pleasant walk to Geneva

Day 13 (Aug 13) - Fribourg to Billens

A good start however things soon were not very good. Christine explained that instead of going back 2.5 kms to Riggisberg (extra distance I walked yesterday) I could go forward and hook up with the Via Jacobi using an alternate route. We looked at maps together...she said she had placed a marker at the only junction and off I went.

Marker was no where to be found yet the surroundings were as described...soon I found the Wanderweg signs and I thought I was good. I even stopped someone and he confirmed it as well. I kept walking and seeing Wanderweg signs, which I often follow, however had an overwhelming feeling that I was off 9:30 I had yet to see a Via Jacobi sign.

Shortly thereafter I came to a yellow sign which indicated directions to various towns...NONE of which were mine! I walked back to a farm and said I was lost. Two people just spoke German...third one spoke some English. He looked at where I wanted to go on my iPad PDF map and showed me where I was. Way off...likely 5 kms or so off.

I asked if he could just point out the road to backtrack and he said sure...wait a minute. Next thing I knew my backpack was in his car...he was a veterinarian and he drove me back over the roads I had just come for the past hour...then a little zag and I saw the Via Jacobi sign. In total he only drove for maybe less than 10 minutes...but it really saved me. 

In hindsight I was at some point very close to where I should be however veered off at that point...there are so many walking paths! I tried to save 2.5 kms but in the end walked at least double that!

I could have given him a hug (note not a big hugger therefore I didn't)...offered him some money to which he said no...then dug up 10 or so Canadian lapel pins and gave them to him...he seemed happy.

A short while later I stood by the side of the path quietly and acknowledged the Direction that I had been provided and gave thanks. That event was a lot more than luck...

1 comment:

  1. I am surprised that there are not any deep ruts in your current path. I hope you are doing both left turns and right turns along the way. Or are you (in the words of Derek Zoolander) a non-ambi-turner? On second thought scratch that idea given the directions you have to follow!!