Day 6. Almost a blizzard! We walked with snow blowing against us all day. Here I am demonstrating our multipurpose gear in action (sheet scarf and sock gloves). Something about walking with my head down against the wind, just putting one foot in front of the other all day made me go into kind of a meditative state. Though at one point I realized my mantra with each step had become, hot cocoa, hot bath. Hot cocoa, hot bath. It's amazing what focus one can have with only basic necessities in mind (I realize I'm including hot cocoa in that category). And what joy one has when they are finally reached.
Day 7. Transhumance Festival in Aubrac. We arrived in time to see this lively annual tradition on the Aubrac Plateau - the moving of the herds to higher pastures for summer grazing. Traditional village dancing, music, and food accompanied the successive groups of cows and herders that walked through town. Rachel and I tried some aligot, basically mashed potatoes with enough cheese mixed in to make them stringy, and almost bought donkey sausage because we thought the man who said, "it's like a horse with small ears" was describing venison.
Day 8. Dropped elevation below the snow level for a gorgeous walk today on a path spongy with wet fallen leaves and the sun coming through ash trees like shades of green stained glass.
Day 10. Today we met someone from the U.S. for the first time on the trail. Strangely enough, I probably met him once before! Brad was part of a monastic community at Good Earth farm in Ohio last summer, and I visited there during a food and faith conference. Rachel and I were at the point of talking to cows the day before, so we were relieved to have someone else to talk to in English! He has hiked the Camino twice before, and this time started at Taize with the goal of arriving in Santiago in 2.5 months. Wow! We start the Camino in Spain in just 2 days. I'm excited to finally be able to understand most of what local people are saying, and learn more about Spanish culture along the way.