Hey folks. When we last left off, Mark and Allison were stealth camping somewhere in the woods between Chalindrey and Champlitte. Let’s rewind a bit and see how they got there.
Day 35, as we left Langres we had planned a relatively short day of 24km followed by a long 20miler on day36. As you’ll hear in the morning update videos, our day had begun after a highly interrupted sleep due to a fete in town. Apparently the street outside the presbytery where we were staying was ground zero for the events – or so it seemed. As the partying died down around 5am we drifted to sleep until our alarm buzzed at 6. There’s no surprise that we were a little groggy starting off the morning.
However after a nice egg and pancetta breakfast with yogurt drinks and a quick shot of sugar at the bakey we were off.
The east side of Langres where we exited offered a beautiful view from the ramparts over to the reservoir.
That reservoir was our first target and the VF takes an unnecessary but beautiful trip around 3/4 of the perimeter. It was during this trip that we met up with a gentleman on his morning walk. We struck up a conversation and chatted for almost 45min. He was so much fun to get to know briefly, and he complimented us both on our French. THAT was very kind on his part.
Around noon we met up with Chantile and Bernadette (forgive the misspellings). They were out for a day walk in the opposite direction. They had hopes some day of walking some or all of the VF and were curious about our experience. Two more wonderful people to add to the many we’ve met.
However it was about this time that we started to get a little concerned. The host that we’d hoped to stay with had yet to return our left messages or emails. Alternatives were very limited. We didn’t have enough food nor water to go much farther. Additionally there were no alternate lodging options within reasonable walking distance.
So..our plan was to continue to our target destination of Chalindrey to stay there if possible, to resupply if an option presented or even to find alternate transportation to a nearby town with lodging.
This turned out to be a profitable decision. The host did return our calls but no lodging was available. The town did however have a good sized grocery…and it was OPENED! Hallelujah!
Perhaps we went overboard – never go shopping when you are hungry. We bought lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch for the next day as well as some snacks. We were just tired of being without food I guess, and we still didn’t know what to do about lodging.
So we sat outside the grocery store parking and ate a lunch. It was yet another surreal moment. “How did we get to this point in life, space and time?”
We made the decision to forge ahead and wild camp for the night. It would accomplish four objectives:
- It would allow us to brag about wild camping in France;
- It would be the ultimate in cheap lodging;
- It would make me feel better about sloughing our tent around for a month;
- But most of all, it would subtract miles from what was going to be a pretty long day on Day36.
So off we headed into the unknown with the intent to walk for about 4-5km (about an hour for us) and find a good discrete spot in the woods. Despite my pack weight, which was easily 10lbs heavier than normal due to the food, we passed the 5km mark feeling pretty good and pressed on just a bit further, then further passing numerous excellent camping spots.
The next section the camping options looked less favorable. The Gaia GPS seemed to indicate another section of woods 1km further. Too steep. Then another just 1k further down a steep incline to a nice level spot right beside a barn size cow manure pile. Needless to say that was deemed too stinky. The terrain and options were running out and so was our motivation and energy.
Looking one last time at the GPS I spied what seemed to be an ideal spot. The only problem was it was yet another 2km away…and steeply up hill.
There was nothing to be done, so we trudged, bemoaning our mistake of not stopping at some of the nice spots earlier in our extended walk, but also laughing and sharing the situation together. The steep hill was really tough with our tired legs and the weight of my pack, but we made it.
In the end we reached the top and there was indeed flat and isolated spots in the woods. We dutifully set up our lodging for the night, spread out our handy trash bag mat as a seat, and ate our dinner. The woods were quiet, we were sweaty, the sun got low in the sky and the temperature began to drop.
To bed we went after accepting a call from Isabel to confirm some car insurance information. The only sound we heard was a lone woodpecker and the call of a pheasant. Life wasn’t too bad at all.