Day 41: Penultimate: Sauterre de Bearn to Ostabat

Today’s walk is dedicated to all of those men and women dealing with cancer patients at the BC Cancer Clinic. To all the Nurses and Oncologists who have to deal with this as a career. They are real heroes.

Found out today that we are actually in the Pyrenees, French side. Makes sense as the hills have become sreeper and steeper, higher and higher. Here are a couple of views of hills we had to climb today:

That hill in the distance is typical of the hills we climbed today. One hill was 350 meters high over a distance of 700 meters. Compare that to the Malahat, which rises 352 meters over 8 kilometers. Tough! The actual walk today was 26.8 kilometers, which took us over 7.5 hours – a long day as a result of the hills.

The area around Ostabat is unique in that 3 of the French Pilgrimages meet here: Tours, Vezelay and Le Puy. They all then converge on St Jean Pied de Port before climbing up and over to begin the Camino Frances to Santiago.

The 3 French paths converge at this spot.

The landscape between Sauterre and Ostabat actually reminds me of the Swiss countryside, especially near Zurich. Rich:

Pascal and his favourite companion – our host last evening:

Getting tired now. Tomorrow is day 42 and the end of this journey.

The area around Ostabat also has a Spanish feel to it and there are palm trees here and there. It reminds me a bit of northern California with its Spanish vibe. Accordingly, here is another Eagles classic. One of the best leads around by Don Felder.  Sound and voice synchronization is off a bit. Enjoy:



Day 16: Crozant to La Souterraine:

A day in my pilgrim,s life.

As I got up and got out of bed I banged my head against the shelf above. Some books came crashing down on me. It was 0530 in the morning. Damn I thought  I screamed. Over on the other side of the dorm I thought I heard someone say “ Mon Dieu.”

“Darn”, as pilgrims are not supposed to swear. So I go up. It was pitch darkness and I did not want to wake anyone. As I was walking, no tip toeing towárd the heads (toilet), I banged my big toe against the leg of the bed.  “Damn, merde, shit” I screamed again to myself. Owee, that hurts. I then thought I heard my dear wife whisper in my ear: “ John, not only are you a slob you are also a big klutz.” Yes dear. I thought to myself.

I made it to the head only to see or feel that some guy, er pilgrim, was sleeping on the floor by the heads. Oh yeah, I remember. This guy was sensitive to snoring so he moved his mattress by the heads. Snoring or smell? Take your pick. Anyway, I tried to be a quiet as a mouse as I opened one of the doors to the stalls:  caaaw-reeek, the door needed oil. ” Mon Dieu” I heard from th other side of the dorm. I went into a stall and closed the door only to see no toilet seat. No matter. I am a male after all and this is the call of nature for numero uno. Then I tripped on something and fell down and low and behold the toilet was not secured to the floor. With a bang it fell sideways. “ Holy shit.” I said. “Mon Dieu.”I heard again and the guy on the floor beside the toilet just grunted and turned over. Finally, I got out of there, brushed myself off and tip toed back to my bed. Then again my big toe banged again on the corner leg of the bed and I tripped and fell into the bed beside me. That guy was not amused. “ Mon Dieu” I heard again. I apologized to the man in the bed, got my things together, strapped on my rucksack and made my way to the door. I then hit a table as I was opening the door. “Mon Dieu, mon dieu, mon dieu monsieur.” I heard over again and with that I started my day. As I opened the door to leave I yelled back into the darkness of the room: “ Mon Dieu to you too, adieu.” And with that I was on my way.

They are not kind to pilgims. Crozant was at the top of a big hill by the Creuse River. A beautiful site but not to  a pilgrim at the end of the day. We made it to the top, found our accommodations, unpacked, then proceeded to the cafe. I could not believe it. We had  chickenm wings and beer. And they were some of the best wings I have even had. Great. Had some red vino as well and pickd up another bottle for later in the evening. Gawd, how I love this pilgrim life. “ Mon Dieu.”

This is Netherlander Berry. Good company. Pascal from Strasbourg, also joined us. Great evening.

In the morning when I left, the trail had us go all the way back down to the river bed to start our hike. We basically covered off over 100 meters of elevation in less that 500 meters. That was brutal. We followed the river bed into a magical land of streams, woodland and moss. It was cool and very pleasant. The water cascaded over the rocks and weirs and gave it that fresh relaxing aura. It made it even more enjoyable to the senses:

It was a hard slog again today. 24.5 km in 31 degree heat. And it was all uphill. Obviously our elevation was increasing as we headed south. Coming out of the beautiful Creuse River Valley was akin to a death  march, or as I like to refer it to as the Compestello Sweat. We did come into a few villages but I am not going to bore you with that “F” word anymore but it was Thursday after all and everything was………….

But there were also some lighthearted moments:


“You talking to me? Are you talkimg to me? Yeah you, you. Are you talking to me, huh?, Huh? Well are you?  Okay, then how about you guys?”


Pascal from Strasbourg.  He is 64.

Another great tune to listen to as you are doing the Camino Sweat March!