Freeway Free in France – Hiking in the Dordogne – Day One (cont.)
At about the halfway point of our first day of hiking (9km) we felt raindrops. Drizzle turned to gentle rain, enough to rate dragging out our rain gear – all except DB, who had left her poncho behind to save weight. (DB has some curvature of the spine and her backpack is not very comfortable, so she chose to leave some basic stuff, including sufficient water. Fortunately both W and I tend to err in the opposite direction, and were able to keep her hydrated with our extra bottles, and fairly dry with my little polka-dot umbrella.). The ponchos added an unnecessary extra layer of warmth, so we kept trying to do without every time we felt the rain slacken, and then had to re-don when we got out of the sheltering woods or the rain renewed its attack.
We oohed and ached over a chateau whose ruined towers loomed above the woods on the left (it was burned by the Nazis in WWII) and exclaimed over weird fungi growing on logs and near the edges of the path. We noted pear orchards, apple trees heavy with fruit, an occasional vineyard lush with grapes awaiting harvest. We sampled wild blackberries at the side of the road, and tried to open chestnut husks to get at the chestnuts inside. (Chestnuts are stickery!” And we were counting down the remaining KM by tenths.
Finally we made it to Sarlat after about 7 hours on the walk. (It was supposed to take 5, but we missed a couple of turns, and some of us were pretty slow on the up hills) The usual hotel for this tour company was booked up, so they put us in a backup – W and I are sharing a tiny room with two twin beds, minuscule night table shelves, one chair, and a clothes rack hung over the door on which we must try to dry our wet / sweaty clothing. But the shower has cold water for my feet and warm water for the rest of me, and after the appropriate ablutions I am snuggled under the matelasse bedspread in my nightshirt while W in her night shirt is rapping out emails at the skimpy shelf-desk in the corner. Our dinner reservation is in a half hour and we are hoping to be able to walk that far.
Today’s walk was the second longest of the 7. Tomorrow we will be in Sarlat for the whole day; there is a “suggested loop” of 14 KM which takes about 4 hours per our tour route guide, or we can just wimp out and enjoy the famous market and explore the car-free streets of the old medieval town. I’ll see what a good dinner and night’s rest does for me!
But at the moment wimping out sounds great.