Le Puy Trek Day 6: Arrived in Estaing!

After my three 20+ mile days I decided I needed a break and I cut my daily mileage practically in half to 12!  Since the store I am in is closing in 20 minutes all I have time to share is a photo of this gorgeous town, Estaing.  It looks like this place could have come straight out of a fairy tale!

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Until the next time I meet up with a computer, keep on trekking!

Sheri

Sorry it has been so long since my last blog on this journey.  Over this next month of March 2017, I will be finishing this blog from Le Puy en Velay, France to St. Jean Pied de Port, France.  My intention while I trekked this past summer of 2016 had been to do a daily blog.  Unfortunately, I found very few computers to use and keeping a blog with the tools I had proved quite difficult.  I hope you will enjoy reading about the rest of my journey…

Prior to the town of Estaing (pictured above), I walked through the beautiful town of Espalion (seen below), but only after a very long hilly morning climb, one which could have been easily avoided if I only knew I could have followed the river into Espalion.   The creators of this French trail worked very hard to keep you off of the asphalt and cement roads.  Many times they add 2-3 miles to the trail just so you don’t have to walk on the harder cement surfaces.  When you are tired and just want to get to your next cup of coffee, this can be quite frustrating.  Despite this, I appreciated the thought that went into creating this trail, as hard surfaces the whole way would not have been fun.

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Espalion

A few photos I took after leaving Espalion and a couple from when I arrived into Espalion.  Enjoy!

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Day 7 from Estaing to Espeyrac, coming next!

Le Puy Trek: Day 3, 4, and 5!

These last three days, hiking from Sauges to Nasbinals, were long logging 65 miles.   Each day started around 6:15AM and ended anywhere from 4:00 to 6:30PM.  Long days meant tired feet and a tired body, but long days also meant seeing many great sites.

The early morning fog…

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Rest stops created by locals for tired pilgrims, and lovely bathrooms keeping the trail clean…

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Pilgrim statues, scallop shells, and crosses.  At one time crosses were the main way markers of this pilgrimage.

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The variety of trails.  Some easy going with options to walk on soft grass, others not so easy going…

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The cows!  At times nerve-wrecking way blockers, yes I had to find my way through the  baby cows and protective mothers, and at other times cute and cuddly wishing I were one of them napping in the fields.

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And finally the beautiful medieval towns I get the pleasure of staying in each night!  This particular town is Saint Como d’ Olt.

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Le Puy Trek: Day 2

Thought I’d start out this blog with what I have learned thus far on this adventure:

  1. Keyboqrds qre not the sq,e here; so pleqse forgive ,y typing errors qnd ,y qbility to zrite zell:
  2. Always plan what you will eat for the next day and purchase the night before (that’s if stores are open the night before); stores/bakeries/restaurants are not always open when you want them to be, especially on the weekends!
  3. Don’t listen to men telling you of short cuts even if they look official.
  4. Learning some French before your adventure would be rather helpful. Most of the people living in the regions of this hike thus far do not speak English; and if they do it’s only a few words, kind of like my ability to speak French 🙂
  5. Be sure you wear earplugs, waking up at 5AM to one rattling plastic bag after another wont be music to your ears.

Okay thats all for now, I’m sure I will have more to add to the list soon!

Todays route: Saint-Privqt-d’ Allier to Sauges; 20.5km

Favorite place of the day…

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Most intriguing sight of the day, a church built into a cave and the gentleman who works there…

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And most unusual sighting along the trail…

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Le Puy Trek: Day 1

After the 7AM pilgrims mass (all in French) at the Notre-Dame du Puy Cathedral, which happens every morning, I was off on my 1000 mile adventure from Le Puy to Santigo!  There must have been at least 40 other people starting the same day as me.  Only a handful of those 40+ will go all the way to Santiago.  Some only hike for one week, coming back each year to continue where they left off, hopefully someday completing the entire journey.  Below is the photo that I was told I had to have someone take of me, walking down the steps of the Notre-Dame du Puy Cathedral.

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Day one was full of hills; uneven surfaces and a nice mixture of soft and hard surfaces.  Beautiful scenery was seen throughout the day such as viewing Le Puy from a distance.  The walking distance of the day from Le Puy to Saint-Privat-d’ Allier was 23.5 kilometers, a good start.

Leaving Le Puy on a Saturday morning found me smack in the middle of a market filled with cheese, olives, mushrooms, bread and more.  Why I didn’t think to purchase something for lunch, I do not know.  Turns out stores are not always open when you want them to be.  I learned very quickly that if I want to eat, I had better buy food when I see open stores or markets, not wait till I am hungry.

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Leaving town required a climb for quite some time, however tiring views were great from the top…

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Along the route I ran into a traffic jam or two.  This particular one was led by two brave goats, a rare sighting…

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One thing I love already about this trail are the great signs.  I am hoping they are consistent throughout this journey.  A couple of examples…

The red and white stripes of the GR65 trail are the ones to follow.  Near the beginning of this trek, there was a sign warning trekkers of a man who would tell pilgrims of a so called short-cut route, in which many pilgrims reported getting lost on.  Thank goodness I happened to read the sign as I did come across this man, telling me of this short cut.  He wore a coat littered with Camino pins and patches making him look quite official.  He even had maps of this new route as well as postcards of places you will see along the way.  By the end of our one-sided conversation I learned the history of the places I would visit in about 7 days time, but I’m sure if I had taken his advice I would have added another day or two trying to find my way without the helpful red and white stripes.

A pretty trail along the way…

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And my final destination for the day, Saint-Privat-d ‘Allier…

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Le Puy Camino Trekking Adventure: Ariving in Le Puy

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I arrived in beautiful Le Puy France tired and hot; still tired from my recent Peur adventure, and  turned out France was in the middle of a heat wave 95+ temperatures.  I was relieved that I had planned for jet lag rest day, getting me past both incredibly hot days  and my jet lag.  I enjoyed a few sites on my non-trekking days that helped me stay fit… The Madonna and baby Jesus statue seen in the photo above, was a few hundred steps to the top of Mary’s crown, the monument of Archangel Michael a couple more hundred steps to the top, and the church of Notre Dame du Puy, not as many steps, but enough!

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The Notre-Dame du Puy church is where pilgrims begin or finish their pilgrimage.  Back in the middle ages most pilgrims heading to Le Puy were finishing their journey, not starting.  It has only been in the last 100 or so years that more pilgrims are starting their journey at Le Puy to head towards Santiago.  My modern journey will start at this famous church heading to St. Jean Pied de Port in France (450 miles) and then hopping on the Norte Camino (just over 500 miles) route to finish in Santiago, a two month long journey!

A close up photo of the Madonna and child statue…

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And a close up of the top of the church for your viewing enjoyment :).

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See you on day 1 of my trek!

Last day in Cuzco!

The morning of our last day was spent shopping and exploring more of the streets of Cuzco before we had to head out on our flight to Lima and then back home to Seattle.  We were lucky to experience a parade in the main square of Cuzco full of elaborate costumes and choreographed dances.  The performers were school children from 1st grade all the way up to college students.  What a site to see!

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Chincherro weaving community and Salt Mines

The second to last day of our Peruvian adventure we visited the Quechua village of Chinchero.  Here we learned about the ancient Incan tradition of weaving and creating natural dyes through the Chinchero Co-op.  The Co-op teaches local children this ancient tradition and also assist local families in creating a larger market for their textiles and a new economy for their communities.   We had lunch with the women of the co-op and then visited the Chinchero Inca Archeological Site.  What an amazing experience!

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Prior to visiting the Quecha village of Chincherro we visited the unique salt mines of Urumbamba valley.   Check out this spectacular site…

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Ollantaytambo…a well deserved rest day.

After our challenging trekking adventure we had a well needed “rest” day in the quaint village of Ollantaytambo.   Exploring the ruins of Ollantaytambo did require a rather long stair climb to the top, but then had a nice leisurely walk around the rest of the ruins, nothing  compared to each day on the trekking trail!

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The remainder of the day was spent exploring the narrow streets of the village and shopping for souvenirs and gifts.

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Day 7 Peru Trek: Machu Picchu!

We woke early to watch the sun rise over Machu Picchu and spent the majority of the day exploring it’s ruins.  Our local guide took us through the site sharing history and stories.

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In the afternoon we had the opportunity to climb to the top of Wuyanu Picchu, to give us a different view of Machu Picchu.

The last part of the day was spent exploring Aguas Calientes, the village just below Machu Picchu, as we waited for our train to Ollantaytambo.

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Day 6 Peru Trek: Collpapampa to Aguas Caliente

Our last official day of trekking before arriving to Machu Picchu was by far the easiest day.  We hiked along the Santa Teresa river in the middle of a subtropical forest where we saw coffee crops, many native fruit trees and impressive waterfalls.   Heading towards our lunch stop, Lucmabamba, we walked through neighborhoods where turkeys, chickens and  donkeys roamed the roads and coffee beans dried in the yards of the locals.

A few photos from our last day of trekking…

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Our last meal and our amazing cook…

 

The last part of the day involved a car ride to the train that would take us the final miles into Aguas Caliente.  Next up… Machu Picchu!

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