Friday, November 08, 2013

Camino 2013 - Day 2: Sarrance To Borce

We left the albergue just before 8:00AM.  There was plenty of light to walk by but the sun was hidden behind thick clouds.  It was drizzly, spitty, and generally misty this morning.

After Sarrance the Camino follows dirt tracks similar to the ones we followed the day before.  With all the rain we had over night we made the decision to skip the dirt mud trails and follow the road instead.  The decision was made on sound reasoning.  The narrow trails have had some landslide and erosion issues and would be hazardous wet - doubly so if it were raining ... which it was.
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The low clouds over the highway we followed out of Borce.
Things went well between Serrance and Bedous, the first sizable town on today's leg.  The clouds and drizzle didn't help much with the vistas but the clouds did add some interest and I saw my first sample of fall colors in the pyrenees.  I was hoping for more fall color but northern Spain (and western France) are not New England and would have to be satisfied with a small number of tiny splashes of color along the way.  I was surprised just how green everything was this time of year.  Even in October there was green and blooming flowers.
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A little bit of fall color in the Pyrenees.
In Bedous we found a bakery open and bought some breakfast (chocolate napoleons and orange juice).  After leaving the bakery the drizzle turned into a more steady rain.  We stopped briefly at a covered bus stop to eat our breakfast.

After leaving Bedous we followed the highway as the drizzle became pouring rain.  We stopped at a filling station briefly to confirm our path and waited a little to see if the rain would let up.  It didn't.  We walked on through the rain.  The traffic whizzed by.  I started wondering if our decision to walk the highway was any less hazardous than the muddy trail.  The highway was not really made to be walked along.  In some places the shoulder was very narrow and in others you walked along a vertical rock mountainside so you couldn't even jump out of the way if a car or truck got too close.  Fortunately it was Sunday and traffic was light.  You just had to trudge on and hope the drivers saw you as they rounded corners going way too fast.
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One thing about the rain, it sure made things green.
I was a bit relieved when we got to our stopping point of the day, Borce.  The last two days of rain and overcast was taking its toll on me.  I was tired of being wet and, even though the rain had stopped by the time we reached the town, I was still soaked all the way through.  Even my underwear was wet ... yes, I was that wet.  My shoes are GoreTex.  The good thing about GoreTex is that it makes the shoes waterproof.  The bad thing about GoreTex is that the shoes hold water.  Once water gets in the shoes it doesn't drain out.  A pair of gaiters would have been helpful but I didn't have any.  My pants got soaked.  The water then soaked into the socks.  The socks, acting like wicks, sucked the water into my shoes.  My socks felt very squishy by the time I got to Borce.

We passed up the municipal albergue since it seemed a bit spartan and, instead, found a nice private albergue above the town bar/cafe.  A warm shower and some dry clothes later and I felt a bit human again.  The sun came out and the clothes we wore that day, along with the still wet clothes from the day before, went up on the clothes line.  It was nice to actually have dry clothes for the next day.

The albergue was prepared for the weather by having stacks of newspaper.  To dry out soggy shoes you wad up newspaper and stuff it in your shoes.  Let them set for a time and swap out the paper for dry paper.  By the next morning the shoes were dry enough to wear comfortably.

Finding open services in France was turning into a challenge.  Concerned that we would not find any open stores in Borce on a Sunday we'd bought cans of ravioli in Sarrance and had carried them all day.  Turned out the cafe/bar was actually a cafe/bar/store and they had plenty of food available.  We bought supplies for the next day and ate warmed up ravioli for dinner.  I ate my first ice cream here.

I was able to send my first email from the bar.  Internet along the Camino is one of the things that has changed since last time.  Just two years ago you found computers with internet access at nearly every albergue.  In the last two years most of those computers have either broken, unplugged, or have been removed and replaced with wifi access.  Not having a wifi enabled device meant that accessing the internet was harder. A cheap, small tablet/phone might be necessary on any future Caminos if you want to send email.

A nice American family was staying at the albergue.  The family was visiting their Grandfather who lived in France.  They were nice people and were interested in the Camino.  They were doing day hikes using Borce as a base.  The Germans from Sarrance showed up too.  Being better fed and rested, they were in better moods than the night before and were quite pleasant to talk to.  Proves you can't always judge people by first impressions.

The weather forecast for the next day sounded much better as the rain was moving out and we would be crossing over the mountains.  We had a decision to make about the next section of Camino.  Landslides had severely damaged a part of the trail and a short section of road where pilgrims were detoured to was not very hiker friendly.  Gv had promised her mom that she would bus around this hazardous section.  I was still debating walking it as I fell asleep.

Despite having a waterproof camera, the dreary, rainy day deterred me from taking a lot of pictures.  The few I did take have been added to my Camino de Santiago 2013 Flickr set (newer pictures are at the bottom).

Total Distance on Day 2: 22 km (13.67 Miles)
Total Distance Walked:  44 km (27.34 Miles)

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Approximate Track of the day's hike.
[Click on map for a larger version]

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