Day 41 – Walking the Via Francigena – Lods To Pontarlier, France – An Exciting Forest Hike To The Source Of The River Loue, In The Pouring Rain

Day 41 – Walking the Via Francigena – Lods To Pontarlier, France – An Exciting Forest Hike, To The Source Of The River Loue, In The Pouring Rain

Today was a very challenging day.
We knew that it would rain all day, but we still chose the longer forest hike instead of walking on the side of the National road, getting splashed with muddy water by the cars that pass us by.

We had breakfast and chatted with the owner of our Bed and Breakfast.
She is such a lovely women.
She and her husband live in Lods during the summertime, and return back to Bern, Switzerland in wintertime.
She said she loves living in a small remote village, but she also loves concerts and museums and cultural events, so she plans to keep her house in the city of Bern.

We talked about how we are multidimensional beings, who need a diverse life.
I feel the same.
I love the quiet of the Colorado mountains, but I also love traveling to big cities, sitting in busy cafes, visiting museums, concerts, art shows, movies and film festivals.

She made us a full breakfast, with eggs, cheese, baguettes and jam .
She confessed that she had never fried an egg on both sides, as Jules likes his done.
She said she tried it three times before she presented him with an egg she thought looked good.
It was so charming that she cared so much.

She also gave us two bananas and two apples to have for lunch, since the village does not have a shop or a bakery.
Many of the little villages no longer have a local bakery in France.
Instead, every two days a bakery truck comes by and the locals buy their bread.

The walk from Lods was along the river Loue.
It was very scenic, and the small villages looked very picturesque.
Then we entered a beautiful forest, full of old trees and mossy rocks.
The river was flowing fast, and on both sides of the river, grey slate cliffs towered high into the sky.

The walk was challenging, since it was raining all night and all day today.
We had to climb over fallen trees, natural rock steps, slippery stones and over tree roots.

It was truly a beautiful forest.
The beautiful river created many waterfalls, and the path was very hilly, with lots of ups and downs.

If it were not a rainy day, we would have just enjoyed the hike, but being so wet and slippery and carrying our heavy backpacks, we needed to be more aware and to walk slowly and carefully.

But I was not afraid.
In the corner of my eye between the trees, I saw a group of eight trail runners running on the path ahead of us.
They seemed so agile and capable.
This is exactly what I want to become.

Some people hike slippery slopes and forests with hiking poles, to keep their balance and avoid sliding and slipping, especially when the trail is very challenging and wet.
I want to develop my instincts and muscles to a degree that I am well balanced without support, just like those trail runners who jump on the slippery rocks like gazelles and mountain goats.

It is not that I wish to become a trail runner.
I do not even like running.
But I DO want to become as well balanced and agile as they are on challenging terrain.

And we did very well.
At times the path was washed away, in other parts it was just a narrow one foot wide lane, and always it was full of water, or rivulets from the rain, or fallen leaves or slippery tree roots and rocks.

After about two hours in the forest, the rain eased, so we sat on a rock, took off our backpacks and had some cookies.
We were happy to rest our feet, knowing that we would still have a full day of walking ahead of us.

The rain started again after we collected our things and started walking.
We were walking uphill, to the source of the river Loue.
The mighty river is dammed close to its source, in order to control its flow and prevent it from flooding the nearby villages.

At its source, it comes out of those gray cliff rocks we saw towering above us.
It is amazing that such a river flows out of a cave in the rocks.
No wonder it is a beloved tourist destination.
Tourists do not need to hike the forest.
At the source there is a carpark and a park with picnic tables with easy access.

I had no cell reception for hours when we walked in the forest, but when I had studied the map before our walk, I saw that there was a restaurant at the river source.
I was wondering if it would be open.
I was dreaming of a hot cup of tea and a dry place to sit indoors.

When we neared the restaurant, I saw the lights inside and hurried in.
We came in dripping with water.
The place was nearly full of customers, most of them road workers and businessmen working nearby.

It felt like heaven to drink hot green tea, eat a crepe with honey and rhubarb and use the clean toilets.

From there, it was a very long walk to Pontarlier.
The rain intensified and we got soaked and very cold.
I considered stopping to put on another layer under my raincoat, but the rain was coming down so hard that my warm layer would have been soaked before I had a chance to put it on.

We had 22 Kilometers to go, after we exited the forest, and most of it we walked in the pouring rain.
Instead of focusing on my wet and cold feet, I imagined that I was soaking my tired feet in a cool creek.
It worked, and I managed not to feel miserable.

But it was really cold and also getting late.
Sunrise at this time of the year is at 7:30 AM and sunset is at 7PM, and we needed to get into town by sunset.

We walked without stopping.
Only once we stopped at a bench when the sun shone through the clouds.
As soon as we put on our backpacks and started walking over the last mountain, the rain started pouring heavily again.

We arrived in Pontarlier at six thirty in the evening.
We were so wet, that I knew that we would not put on our wet shoes after a shower, so we entered a bakery cafe and ordered hot tea and baguette sandwiches.

My fingers were so cold and frozen, that I barely was able to operate and open the clips of my backpack or my wallet.
I had no dexterity in my frozen fingers.

The short break did not dry us nor warm us up.
Only after a hot shower did our feet and fingers felt warm again.

I know that the region needs the rain water, but I really hope it rains at night, instead of raining all day long as it rained today…

When we were clean and warm in the clean sheets, we reflected on the day.
We felt that we had had an exciting and adventurous day, despite being completely wet, cold, and very tired after our long walk.

Luckily we have tomorrow to see Pontarlier and do our laundry.

Warm blessings to you,

Today’s Stats:
Daily Steps – 45,116 Steps
9 hours of walking
Active walking time – 8 hours
Daily Kilometers – 33 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 932 km

Hotel Saint Pierre in Pontarlier, France
A centrally located hotel with comfortable rooms and a good shower.

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