Day 28: Chateau Puyferrat to Mussidan

Today was by far the worst day of my life. But first  Chateau.

When I first arrived I thought wow, a real Chateau. Look at this place. Once inside though things took on a more sinister tone. The owner or caretaker met me at the door. He told me to follow him. He had a sinister look about him, long black hair, as black as hades itself, curly too and fell back over his shoulders into one ot those man buns. He wasn,t tall, perhaps just shy of  6 feet. His mustache and beard were unkept and he seemed to walk with a slight limp.

”This way” he said

I followed him up three flights of stairs into the tower. Everything had a morbide look and feel. The air was heavy, dank and stale. The smell of death! It was a gloomy dark staircase and when we got to the top he had to swipe a veil of spider web to clear the way for me. He then blew on the shelf by the door where the key was lept. A cloud of dust filled the air. He coughed and his cough was bronchial and deep. He started to hack and hack, unrelentlessly and as fast as it began it stopped.

”This way”was all he said.

We walked down a very long and dark corridor. The walls were painted blood red, but faded into a pasty looking tone of pink and purple. The curtains were old and stank of mildew. The floors creaked and creaked. Suddenly I thought I heard moaning, a soft cry, then laughter. But not the ha ha kind of laughter but laughter that was maddening, sick, tomented.

” This way” he said again.

Finally we stopped at a massive door that was locked with gigantic shackles. All I could do was look around me….and gulp, and gulp again until I could gulp no more.

” This is your room” he said to no one. I gulped. Slowly he pushed the massive door open. Caaaaaaawwwww-reeeeeeeek, caaaawreeek followed by a squelching noise, then that moaning again, screams but from where? Not my room I hoped. All I wanted to do was turn and run. Run and get the hell out of there.  But I could not move and then the door swung wide open. And then my host reached for a torch. And then we walked inside. And then, and then and then……….


I left the Chateau at the witching hour of 6 am. It was dark but, as you can imagine I had a restless sleep. Hopefully a nice day. But the weatherman scewed up again he called for a high of 26. Not bad but what did we get? 36. Awful. And what made it worse were the hills. One after the other. Only this time short but very steep. By 8am I was covered in sweat. My shirt was soaked, my glasses fogged up and my hat drenched. Not rain – sweat. I have never, ever sweated like this. Not with playing hockey, football (American) or anything else. And the hills? Well imagine a staircase with 10 steps. Now  look at those steps from the side. Each step equates to a hill about 1 km in length at a grade of about 20-30 degrees. For my Mill Bay friends walk up Noowick from Mill Bay road to the highway and do it 10 times. Or walk up Mount Doug 10 times. That is what I am dealing with in 30 plus degree heat. No wonder I am crazy.

This is not fun. It is no longer a pilgrimage in my mind but an endurance or survival test. I was really worried about water today for the first time. And I had no time for that pilgrim rite of self reflection, self expression, well being, sense of belonging or how and why the sun comes up. No, for me today it was all about how I was going to make it up the next hill, and the next, and the next. Step after torturist step all the while the sweat was stinging in my eyes. And, as an added bonus today, we had those small black bugs. We call them smidgens. They abound in the north late August, early September. They don,t bite. They swarm around your eyes, nose, mouth and ears. They are annoying.

So, it was a great day for hiking……NOT!

I need something to cheer me up and make me happy:

10 thoughts on “Day 28: Chateau Puyferrat to Mussidan”

  1. John, things can only get better. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was all downhill from here? I mean that in a “gets better” way. This isn’t coming out right!

  2. John….John….John….I can’t help you much from afar sitting in my Lazy Boy at 0700 reading of your plight today, but let me try. Go into my Facebook timeline and find the pic of me from my last trek in Italy. It was 30 plus degrees and I had just climbed the worse hill I had ever encountered on three treks. I was out of my mind annoyed and thinking “ why do I every year think another trek is a good idea”. Two hours after that pic, showered, clothes washed and drying in the sun, sitting up in the Tuscan hills overlooking the valleys and mountains I had crossed, on my 5th bottle of water, I realized why I kept doing this. For the satisfaction and sheer enjoyment of challenging myself to do something that I never thought I could do. To walk 900 kms with a backpack on my back and having so much time to reflect on my 65 plus trips around the sun. You too ,some time later, believe it or not, will come to appreciate the worse day of your life ( as you described it). You will. Trust me. You are making so many people proud John, you truly are. I admire your courage so very much. Marijke is smiling down on you, telling you when you are back in Mill Bay you can have a giant plate of frites and mayo.

    1. Thanks Ted. You are right. Right now I am sitting at a cafe (yes, it is open) having a few pints. Life is good. Once you get in, showered and cool, everything looks better…for sure. You,re a great friend Ted, thanks…John

  3. Quite the scary place you stayed in. Glad you got out safely. The heat and hills must be unbearable, I can’t imagine doing that. Kudos to you uncle I hope your next days are more relaxing.

  4. Thank you for these pictures of the white horse and red wine. ! These are the colors of Canada and Switzerland! Fantastique
    We drink to your health

Comments are closed.