I get off the train in St Jean Pied De Port. Find a patisserie and have a hearty pain au chocalat breakfast and coffee. The other table is occupied with people leaving on the Camino de santiago, talking about sending home items to lighten their day packs. i remember the masses of walkers from last time and i’m glad to slip passed quietly in the opposite direction.
My pack feels surprisingly good, not heavy at all, not yet an instrument of torture. I head out on the road to Caro and within an hour reach a gate and then onto a track to be greeted by these two.
I wonder about the possibility of bare back riding one of them for the whole GR10. I pass by them (carefully, memories of a bull in Nepal). As I walk on I realise they are very determinedly following barely a step behind me. Then I feel my pack being aggressively bumped. Their noses are snuffling in searching for an opening and food. This goes on for about 5-10 minutes until I shout them away to lay in wait for the next unwary walker.
I pass a few other walkers on the path, mostly heading in the other direction. I pass a couple who are intently inspecting a tree and the surrounding bushes. I figure they must be botanists or something. A while later they catch up with me stopped at a gate. They start digging around the gate post. Odd.
The woman turns to me and starts explaining something. Then the guy enthusiasticslly produces a little green capsule with a roll of paper inside. In broken English/French it turns out they have an app and are hunting geocaches. A game played worldwide sending people hunting these little green bottles.
They are Muriel and Jeremy from Bayonne and Tarbes respectively. He’s ex French military, served with the UN peacekeepers on the Lebanon/Israeli border. She works in an old age care home. They have a couple of days walking hunting their geocaches along the path. She shows me an app and smiley yellow faces marking all the ones they have found. The roll of paper is signed and put back in the green cylinder for the next person to find.
It turns out they’re planning 2-3 days in London in October. There’s a cache in my local park called “sniper alley’. Well that’s it. Instead of booking an Airbnb I invite then to stay with me. So we will be seeing each other in a few weeks New friends!
We leapfrog each other along the path. Share lunch and say goodbye until October weekend 19th.
I reach Estercenbuy (?) An hour later than the guide says, but with all the stops happy with the time I’m making. I walk through aiming for Kaskoleta.. knocking off 4km from tomorrow which is a long day. All 4 kilometres uphill. I’m knackered. I get to the last km and my legs give up. I can’t move… literally. I sit on a log, eat a choc bar and wait to recover. I hear English voices, the first today. A man and woman, both solo walkers. We exchange path notes, plans etc and they carry on. A couple of minutes later, the man returns. His name is Nigel, blonde, sounds like a barrister or banker, says he had better give me his number. As I’m walking in the Foie area it has got difficult to find accommodation, if I need help when I get there, to give him a call, he has a house near Foie. Anticipates seeing me the end of September.
One km to go…. I can do it! So happy to see this sign.
As I get to the entrance a car pulls up. It’s Muriel and Jeremy! Already finished for the day but picked up their car to go further afield geocache hunting. They offer me a lift but I’m at my destination already. Au revoir till October!