June 11th, 15th Day of Will on the Way: Heaven and Earth Day
Woke up with the sun and singing of birds. It was 5:30. My upper bunk looked out the window of the gite and I was greeted with a beautiful vista of blue sky, white clouds and sweeping green hills. Wow!
I hadn’t slept well. The bed was hard and uncomfortable and I awoke a few times in the night. I was aware of my legs and feet thawing and releasing all the strain and tension of the previous day’s hike. With each awakening they were more relaxed and comfortable. By morning they were functional again. This journey has made me realize again the healing power sleep.
Barb awoke as did the third party staying at the gite. A friendly German named Jorg who was making the pilgrimage in sections, as many pilgrims do, and would finish this year in Le Puy. After packing we headed back to the house of the night before for breakfast.
The day was cool but promised sunshine. As we passed by the Gite on our way out of town we noticed a little statue of St. Jacques greeting us and bidding us Bon Camino. We were headed for Montfaucon en Velay an 18 K walk.
The day was perhaps the most beautiful to date both in terms of weather and scenery. We had reached the highest elevations of this part of the chamin and the vistas were amazing. Green valleys and forested hills spread out before us. At one point we saw seven hawks dancing with the wind. There were rain clouds that would pass over and sprinkle us with fresh drops and soon go their way. Only once did we don our rain gear and by the time Barb had her rain pants on it was sunny again.
Barb, not having slept well the night before, was tired and physically challenged. The hardest day yet she said. The ups and downs of the hills were less frequent but still somewhat difficult. After our morning break we crossed a lovely stone bridge traversing a mountain stream. Just after this I heard a clanging noise and saw that my scallop shell had fallen on the road. This surprised me for I had tied it on well to my backpack where it hung. Fortunately it wasn’t damaged and I put it in my jacket pocket next to my heart. We continued on the Way.
Later I was to learn that it was at this very point where the shell dropped that we mistakenly took an alternate route of GR 65, missing the correct path and began to go in a direction that would take us many kilometres out off of the chamin and our destination of Montfaucon. I believe that St. Jacques was trying to give me message when the shell fell but sadly I wasn’t listening.
We continued to follow the red and white signs that had been our trusty markers for the Way, blissfully thinking we we on the correct route. What we didn’t realize was that alternates off of GR 65 also use the same red and white markings but only the chamin has the blue and gold scallop shell marks. Something that would have alerted us to our error if we had known.
Regardless the walk continued to be a beautiful one and by late afternoon we were approaching a town that we assumed to be Montfaucon, the arrival time being about what we expected. As we approched the markers seemed to be taking us away from the town rather than through it. This was puzzling so we decided to walk into the village, which was St. Bonnet de Froid. When we saw this we were completely flummoxed! Where were we and how did we get here? We looked on our map and there was no such place on it. Had we stepped into the twilight zone?
We walked further into the town and there saw a sign for Montfaucon – 12 kilometres. How did we get here and how do we get back were the questions we asked ourselves. Finally we decided to ask for help and went into a cafe/bar and asked a young woman behind the bar for assistance. She was very gracious and amused at our predicament telling us we were far from where we wanted to be, even pulling out a map showing us just how lost we gotten.
It was at this point I suggested we take a taxi to Montfaucon saying we had done our walking for the day. Barb was delighted at this suggestion as she had planned on walking the 12 K more and bucking up like the trooper she is. The proprietress of the cafe called us a taxi and while we waited Barb had a herbal tea and I a local microbrew. Barb also made a reservation at the Plantanes Hotel in Montfaucon for that evening.
The taxi arrived a half hour later and we were soon situated in our hotel in Montfaucon. We had a lovely room, more like a suite, and after showering and doing our wash we headed downstairs for dinner. To our great surprise and delight we saw Mikaela seated with Barbara and another woman, who we later met as Anna, in the restaurant! We hugged and greeted her friends and joined them for a good dinner and great conversation.
At the end of the evening we all agreed to meet on Thursday, the 14th, two days hence at the Cathedral in Le Puy at 5:00 PM. The two Barbaras were heading home, one to Germany the other to the US, while Anna, Mikaela and I were heading on south to the boarder. Meeting in Le Puy would be a way of celebrating our completion of the journey from Geneve and holding the connection of the Way until met again. Once again a day full of magic and adventure. Tired and happy we returned to our room and went to sleep.
Day Fifteen Photos
“View from bed in Gite in Setoux on this Heaven and Earth Day. Barb and Will visit with a small statue of St. Jacques.”
“We were lost but didn’t know it yet but beautiful flowers were on the path.”
“Will on heaven and earth day, walking the Way and enjoying the view.”