We spent last night in a four person room with two Australian roommates. We all got up around 6:40am, at which point we discovered that the laundry we washed last night had yet to dry. We put it in the dryer, and while downstairs discovered that breakfast was being delivered to the Gite from down the street. Sean went foraging, and we soon had a breakfast of coffee, orange juice, baguettes and jams. We ate in the communal room downstairs, which soon became a bit chaotic due to everyone re-packing their bags. This was the first Gite in France where we had been asked to leave our backpacks downstairs to reduce the likelihood of bedbugs.
We said goodbye to our Australian roommates, and the couple from Calgary we had met at breakfast, and headed out around 7:30. Thankfully this morning was cloudy, which gave us some relief during the steep climb out of Estaing. Some of the climb out of the valley was along paved roads, but periodically the path would divert to cut across the switchbacks, and these sections were pretty steep.
We have been noticing that although the maps suggest there are days with sections of trail that descend or are relatively flat, in reality it feels like we spend most of our days climbing. While this is tiring at times, especially when it is hot, it does provide wonderful views over the countryside, or river valleys.
On the edge of the trail to Golinac we passed a series of 20 crosses, many of which were accompanied by their own plaques. The crosses ranged from stone to metal, and each one was unique. In the past few days we have been noticing the diversity in design of road-side monuments and crosses, which show styles ranging from ancient Celtic looking stone monuments, to many different metal designs, to post-modern artistic expressions. We were also wondering who commissions these crosses - if it is private citizens, parishes, communities, historical societies, or a combination.
When we reached Golinac we found a very nice rest stop with a gorgeous view over the valley. There was a variety store on the way in to town, and a restaurant beside the church which also sold ice cream, but otherwise Golinac was a fairly small town. We visited the church, and then continued on our way.
All morning the clouds had been looking more and more ominous, and the humidity had been rising, and shortly after we left Golinhac the skies opened up and it really started to pour! Unfortunately we were high up and out in the open, and the tree we chose to shelter under wasn't really up to the task. We found a chestnut tree for shelter next, and it was much more robust. The shower lasted about half an hour at full force, and then tapered off, leaving the world smelling wonderfully fresh and invigorating.
Luckily for us, most of the walk down into the village of Espeyrac was on paved roads, and we had a nice view out over the valley. We arrived at the hotel, checked into our room, and sat downstairs talking to an Australian couple for a bit. We stocked up on granola bars from the tiny variety store in town, and after dinner walked around town again and enjoyed the views of the sun setting through the mist that had rolled into the valley.
Distance: 22.8 km
Cumulative ascent: 971 m
Cumulative descent: 898 m
Max Temperature: 21˚C
Accommodations: Hotel de la Vallee