Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 18: Tut! Tut! Looks Like Rain!

Dscn0563bAugust 29: A few drops of rain overnight convinced me to throw my tarp over myself. I didn’t actually set it up—I just threw it over me like a blanket. Rain was not in the forecast overnight so I didn’t expect the few drops to materialize into anything substantial, but all the same, I didn’t want everything to get wet either—just in case! So I hedged my bets and just threw the tarp over myself.

By morning, the severe chaffing was still with me, but the pain had gone down a bit. Not by much, and I still walked around like I’d been riding a horse for too long. I wouldn’t be making any long-distance hiking records this day.

In Nogaro, I stopped at the tourist office to collect a tampon, and got on their computer for 45 minutes to check e-mail and get the latest weather forecast. The weather forecast had taken a dark turn for the worse since I had checked it the day before. Now it predicted a 20% chance of rain all day, which would increase to 40% after sunset and continue increasing during the night. So probably no rain during the day, but almost certainly rain overnight and into the morning.

After I finished with the computer, I went to pay my bill (1 euro for every 15 minutes of use), and even though I used the computer for 45 minutes, the woman manning the counter (womanning the counter sounds so sexist) refused to take anything but 1 euro. I didn’t argue too much about her under-charging me, though, thanked her, and continued on.

Flipping through my guidebook, I noticed a small discrepancy in the distances ahead. I started comparing the distances in two different guidebooks and finally realized that I had actually hiked considerably further yesterday than I thought I did—the guidebook I had been using had woefully under-reported the mileage. Which explains why Eauze took me so much longer to reach than I had expected. I wasn’t walking particularly slow at all—the actual distance was a lot longer than my guidebook had reported. But ahead, the distances were listed as being much longer than they were in actuality. In the end, the total distances listed are correct, but their distribution was off.

It made me feel a lot better that I got to the bottom of that little mystery. It had still been bugging me that Eauze took me so much longer to get to than I had expected.

I took a long lunch break at Lanne-Soubiran church. Apparently, it was so exciting, I had nothing else to note about the church in my journal. But I bet the length of the lunch was directly proportional to the pain of the chaffing in my groinal region. =)

Dscn0559bAs sunset approached, the rain had stayed away, and I decided to camp out despite the almost guaranteed rain that would happen overnight. I don’t mind setting up camp when it’s dry, and I figured I’d camp out, stay dry all night under my tarp, then hike through the morning rain—and I’d have to hike through the morning rain regardless of whether I camped out at night or found lodging in a gite.

But since I knew it would rain overnight, I took special care selecting a campsite. Usually, I looked for somewhere relatively private and soft, level ground to throw down a groundsheet and sleep. This time, I needed to set up a tarp, which meant I needed a tree, pole, or something to anchor one of the tarp. I also wanted ground that wouldn’t turn to mud when it got wet, a location that would be semi-protected from any winds (rain + wind + tarp = a very bad situation), and preferably away from any lone trees in case lightning arrived. The forecast didn’t include any thunderstorms, but every rain I’d seen in France had included a little, so I didn’t want to take any chances.

These extra considerations made finding a suitable campsite a bit more challenging, and I wandered around some vineyards for about a half hour before I settled on the best option. It wasn’t as protected from the wind as I would have preferred, but I figured I’d deal with that problem by lowering my tarp if it became necessary. You didn’t need a lot of head room when you were laying down, after all.

I decided to anchor one of my tarp with a post that was holding up the vines from the vineyard. A tree would have made a better windbreak, but the only trees I saw looked more like lightning rods than suitable anchors.

One thing I had not considered, however, was how hard the ground was. I tried to drive the first stake into the ground and barely made a dent in the ground. The ground wasn’t as hard as a rock, but it was pretty darned close! I looked around for a rock or something hard I could use to bang in the stake further but found nothing, and wound up just driving the stake in with my shoe about 1/3 of its length. This worried me a bit—with more than half the stake still sticking out of the ground, it didn’t have a lot of grip to hold the tarp in place if the winds picked up. On the other hand, I thought, if it started to rain, it would likely soften the ground and I could probably drive it in the rest of the way then.

If it wasn’t already so late in the day, I’d probably just have looked for a different location to set up camp.

Too lazy and tired to cook dinner, I ate some snacks instead. Then read before going off to sleep.


This is supposed to be a fish farm. =)


A beautiful sunrise in the making!


The busy streets of Manciet. You can
see a blaze for the trail on that drainage pipe
on the left. It’s not very obvious in this photo,
but it is there if you know what to look for! =)


Corn on the right, grapes on the left.


The road walk into Nogaro.


The computer at the tourist office in Nogaro had this nice little
sign to remind pilgrims that we had just 972 more kilometers
to reach Santiago. Less than a thousand now! The papers
you see around the computer are ads for gites further down the trail.


The road walk out of Nogaro. You can see a blaze marking the trail
on that second post from the front.


This looks suspiciously like an abandoned train line again, doesn’t it? =)
You can see a blaze marking the trail on the tree on the right.


The first thing that comes to mind…?


Time for lunch! =)




Walking under some sprinklers that are over the trail.
Glad they weren’t running at the time! =)


Camped in a vineyard. A bit more exposed to the wind than
I’d have preferred, but at least strong winds weren’t in the forecast!

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