La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ready To Depart!

It All Fits! 

Well, most of it will. I've checked:) Except for the clothes on my back, boots, camera, phone, hat, sunglasses, route guide and poles that I'll be wearing or carrying on my person everything you see in this photo (except the table and chairs) will be in my 30 litre Gregory pack with room left for food and water. Annemarie has a similar collection, but her pile is all packed away as she departs early tomorrow morning without me.

My particular pile of 'stuff' is the refined culmination of 5 years of long distance walking experiences that have happily taken us to many special places including Japan, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. This time I've had to make some adjustments as this will be my first full-on fall seasonal walk, with the expectation of finishing in late November. This means that some new gear had to be added and some warmer season gear removed from my kit. For example, I've added a filled vest (bright blue bag) to keep my core warm, even if it gets wet. I've also added a very light Gortex jacket that I found in Japan for layering and evening wear. I well remember wearing my Altus poncho ('Caesar' - red bag) in October 2013 to dinner in Spanish bars through driving rain storms and swearing that if I was ever silly enough to again walk in the fall that I'd bring a waterproof jacket with a hood.

I've also constructed a quasi sleeping bag from a goose down blanket using velcro strips (the blue/green stuff bag on the left) to put inside my silk bug-proof liner (green bag beside). I stopped carrying a sleeping bag after my first 2013 camino and moved to the silk liner with the occasional blanket available in a gite or albergue when it was cool. Hopefully this combination will keep me warm, and if not I have a buff, rain gloves plus other clothes that I can sleep in.

Of course our walking amigos will want to know how much it all weighs. Annemarie tells me that her pack before food and water will be 6.4 kg (14 lbs). My pack weighs in at 7.5 kg (16.4 lbs). Add about 3 lbs for food and water and that's what we will be carrying most days on the Arles/Aragones route, and that reduces by about a pound on the Spanish portion where there are more frequent food and water sources.

Picking a hat was oddly challenging this time. Initially I purchased a Gortex lined rain hat (I'm expecting lots of rain given our 2013 Spain, 2014 France and 2017 Japan experiences), but it proved too warm, so I've returned it. Of course, in the wings and waiting as always was my trusty "old guy" Tilley Airflo that has been with me on each of my 5 prior caminos (top right). However, it's a pain when it get's wet or I don't want to wear it as it doesn't pack away well (I also carry a folding cap). So I looked again to my super light OR floppy sun hat that my son Bryan lent me for Japan (he later gave it to me after he saw how nasty it had become). It folds up small and can go into my pack or pocket, but it doesn't repel rain. However, my mom doesn't really like it and to add to this a camino pal of mine in Germany told me that "it was cute" with my Henro Buddhist outfit. Cute? My Camino buddies Ken and Neil will of course vote for the Tilley...Ken already has. Beat up as it is, it does carry a certain rough and tumble Indiana Jones look (probably only in my head). It also carries a certain I'm leaning this way. I have three days to decide. Poor Annemarie will miss the final debate!

Tomorrow Annemarie and I will go our separate ways for a few days and reconvene for Caitlin's birthday party in Vancouver on Sunday night. I have a certain injury, and my doctor has advised me to miss the 19-20 hour weekend drive given the long flight on Monday. So sadly I'll miss Josh and Emma's wedding, but will be toasting them from here and maybe I'll get to watch part of the celebration in real time.

On Monday afternoon we fly off to Montpellier, France and begin our walk a couple of days later on Friday, September 21st...the first day of fall! They are already forecasting rain as we climb over the Central figures:)

Are we excited? What do you think? :)

Annemarie has left us with a nice poem. Please keep in mind that as you read Annemarie's poetry you can read it from the perspective of someone who has or cares for a person experiencing Alzheimer's, or apply it to our walking experience.

On Preparation

We have read and learned about what’s before us 
But each journey is unique, we really don’t know what’s in store for us 

We have anticipated and made contingencies 
We have looked ahead to connect with the right agencies

We have told our story and enlisted support
With like minded souls we have a strong rapport

Training has helped us to develop confidence
And made us aware of things best not left to chance

We have some familiarity, this is not completely new
Yet there is so much that we never really knew

As we journey together on this new road
We are aware, we will just have to let this story unfold.


  1. So exciting! What a great post- I love hearing how people pack for journeys like this...Beautiful poem Annemarie. Enjoy your weekend of celebrations. Looking forward to following along on this journey.

    1. Thanks Rebecca! It's always nice to have others along with us, and we hope that you'll find something during our journey that resonates with you. Please feel free to comment when ever you like. Your support is very appreciated!!

  2. Now you can have M&M's to your hearts content.

  3. Seeing yourTilley hat in the pile still reminds me of ‘viejo sombrero’. Good luck with your hat decision.

    1. Hey Rob. 'Old Hat', eh? Sounds a little like it's owner. This morning I sewed on the same old leather braid that's adorned my bush hats since I was a kid. I've also attached my walking pins. It's sort of become a statement of intent. How can I not take it with me now? It's sitting on my pack waiting to depart tomorrow:)