This was another day of ups and downs. I wasted almost an hour trying to get out of town because my guide and the trail markings were at odds. I am paranoid about following the right GR. Finally a kindly householder put me right and told me that lots of pilgrims had tried unsuccessfully to find the nonexistent set of steps mentioned in the Guide.
After that, a long climb, some pleasant rambling on forest roads, a very painful stretch along the highway, and some more striding along grassy paths.
As I walked among the pine trees, I noticed a waspnest-like growth on many of the branches. Is this spruce budworm or something similar?
Somehow I missed a village. I was expecting it at 16.7 kms and when it didn't appear I was worried about how little progress I was making. When I finally arrived at a village it was the next one, five kms on. So how did I miss a village? My friend passed through it. And I didn't lose my way today. Strange things happen on the chemin.
The Chemin d'Arles is certainly a lonely road. I hadn't seen a single walker for the previous two days. But this morning as I paused for a moment I was suddenly taken unawares by a line of lady walkers coming round a bend. I stopped what I was doing in mid-stream and said, innocently, Bonjour.
I've lost a sock. On past walks, I've lost socks, shirts, underpants, glasses and guide books. I've left them behind at gites and on the wayside where I had lunch. Once I walked an extra five miles into a town to buy a pair of reading glasses so I could follow the map.
But how do you make sure you don't leave behind the really important things? You make up a mnemonic and use it every time you take off. Here's mine.
Please, God. Where am I? Help a lonely traveller.
I say it to myself every time I move on. The initials of each word stand for something I can't afford to lose. See if you can work it out. I've had to use the French word for two of the items. I'll give you the answer in a later post.
Tonight we are staying at a hotel, demi-pension. Still no sign of the third man.