Larresingle – Lamothe (21km) – Nogaro (27.9km) – Barcelonne du-Gers (27km) – Miramont-Sensacq (23km) – Uzan (24.9km) – Maslacq (23.6km)
I CAN FINALLY SEE THE PYRENEES! For the last week or so, the guidebook has been constantly referring to the ‘spectacular views of the Pyrenees on a clear day’. Sadly, there has either been a heat haze or, on one day, just miserable grey cloud, preventing me from seeing the mountains towards which I have been progressing for the last month – until today! Some weather god up there is finally on my side, as the weather today has been warm (but not hot), with a gentle breeze that was just strong enough to blow the mop of hair off my face, but not so strong as to make my life difficult. These conditions led to a disproportionately joyous moment for me, as I first spotted the Pyrenees in the distance. Granted, it wasn’t exactly a clear day, so they just look like great looming, grey blobs on the horizon, but nonetheless distinctly mountains. This view, combined with the warm sun on my back, the gentle breeze, fabulous-feeling feet and my Ultimate Summer Song*, had me feeling so out-of-this-world happy I thought my heart would burst! I felt invincible – though a rock on the path quickly brought me back down to earth (almost literally). That feeling stayed with me all day, though I paid better attention to where I was putting my feet.
WOW glad to have got that off my chest! It hasn’t all been dancing down the track though… For a couple of days, my ankle was really playing up – of course this was the perfect time for everyone to share their horror stories of stress fractures, shin splints, how their sister’s husband’s brother’s wife had to drop out and couldn’t do anything for 6 months… I got a bit nervous, can’t lie, but I paced myself and took plenty of breaks and the issue resolved itself (big sighs of relief all round).
There’s also been the heat – until the last two days, it’s been pretty darn toasty down here. So toasty that one night I ended up sleeping on the tiled floor of the dorm, as it was significantly cooler than lying on the bed! It wasn’t exactly the best night’s sleep I’ve had, which consequently made me particularly unappreciative of the straight, flat sections of road through crop field after crop field the following day.
This in turn led to a pretty stressful ten minutes – I was walking along, not paying too much attention to my surroundings, when I saw a sign indicating that the lake I had passed an hour earlier was now 3.2km ahead. I kept walking, though slightly unnerved by the prospect of having possibly done a full circle. I then came across another of the signs, so, fully perturbed now, I stopped and whacked out my map book, taking a quick look around to garner a hint as to where I was. My heart fell as I caught sight of a sign saying I was in ‘Vignes’ – according to my ever faithful book, this was just by the lake. Really starting to fear the worst now, I called in the big guns and used my phone to check my location. Despite all the evidence pointing towards me being a total moron, it turned out I hadn’t done a circle and was still on track! So heavens knows what all those darn signs were about…
As the scenery and terrain still hasn’t varied much from last week (until today), I’ve been trying to get as much happiness and inspiration out of the small things as possible. One example of this was meeting an elderly French couple in a little church in the middle of nowhere. After explaining that I didn’t speak much French, they made a huge effort to speak slowly and clearly as they asked question after question about what I was doing. Not only was it fantastic to find a couple of people who wanted to hear as much as they could about this mega walk I’m doing, but being able to communicate with them in a different language to my own was pretty special. A short while after leaving them in the church, they drove past me and offered me a lift to where I was staying that night (this was during the Bad Ankle period). Of course I declined, but it was still touching that they wanted to help!
And a final note, concerning sunflowers. As I set out on the morning of the Bad Weather Day (a morning that was so grey and wet that it was still dark when I left at 6:00), I couldn’t help but notice a field of sunflowers. This wasn’t an uncommon for the region, but what I found particularly striking was that despite the weather and lack of sun-rays, those sunflowers were still as open and radiant as if it were any normal sunny day! That then got me thinking – I want to be like a sunflower. Even when everything is seemingly grey and bleak, they show their faces to the light and soak it up… They know that the sun is still there above the clouds. I want to be like that! Sunflowers have well and truly nailed positive thinking.
Four days of walking left, then two days off with mum and dad in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port before the next leg of my adventure begins.
* Ultimate Summer Song: Peanut Butter Jelly by Galantis – tune! 🎧