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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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Étape 26: Arrès - Berdun, 11 kms, Sunny, 23

Little Adustments!

Last night our host Pilar explained to us that the owner of the Albergue in Ruesta had called to tell her that she needed to halt any peregrinos planning to stop at his place the next night (today) because he would already have 50 people staying there for two nights. He doesn’t just cater to pilgrims. Everyone at Arrès suddenly had to make new plans, including ourselves. While we had a commitment to allow us to stay at Ruesta, we decided that hanging out with a group of non-Camino types (perhaps a family celebration) wouldn’t work well with the late nights the Spanish keep, so we adjusted our plans and with Pilar’s help we made a reservation at a small place called Berdun which is basically located just down and across the Canal Berdun plain. As a matter of a fact we had been looking across at this hilltop town during the latter part of our walk and thinking how nice it looked. The other pilgrims cut their day short as well and some walked to Artieda while others made different decisions. The problem as I explained yesterday is that there isn’t anything after Ruesta for 12+ kms and the day would have been over 40 kms with several very stiff climbs. We have enough time so decided to take a short stage and enjoy our hill town:)  Tomorrow we plan to catch a bus for a very short distance and walk a variant through some canyons to Lumbier that I was considering last winter for this walk. We had cut it out a few days ago, but a change in our plan has allowed us to take this very scenic route ending up at Sangüesa where we had planned to stop tomorrow anyway. A small adjustment for sure, but we will see three other small villages that we would otherwise have never visited, miss a 50+ person noisy night and avoid a very steep climb. To our minds a 3 way win! This is Berdun across the valley...

and up close.

The hospitalero who operated the albergue took a few of us on a short tour of the town, up the tower and into the ancient church. Very simple, but so fortunate to have experiences like these. 

Here is a photo I found on a wall of the town 30years ago, and it really is pretty much the same now except that we have flush toilets:)

As we came down for dinner in the bar last night the sunset was well underway. You might have seen the photo I posted in Instagram with my phone, but this is what it looked like across the valley to the east, away from the setting sun.

Given our short stage we took our time waking up and while looking out the window from our room Annemarie suggested that I should get up, go outside and take a photo. I wasn’t really wanting to crawl out of a warm bed for a cold outside experience when I didn’t really need to, but I did. What I found was quite beautiful with fog banks behind town ebbing and flowing past me and down onto the plain. I must have stayed outside for almost a half hour enjoying the lingering fog in the cool of the morning. A few photos.

We said our goodbyes and headed off down the hill and the fog continued its dance. It was really quite special to be in this place at that time. I commented to Annemarie that this is one of the reasons I love to walk distance. The unexpected.

Looking back to our little village.

The Fog

Swirling, coating the valley below 

Wrapping us like a blanket

Quickly pulled away

Bright blue sky in front

Hills fully shrouded behind




Dancing around us like aurora borealis 



Starting our day with beauty 

We eventually passed a sign post that told us that there was just 800 kms to walk to Santiago. This was reassuring, we thought it a bit further. The distance signage isn’t too reliable at times. This means I’m almost half way there and should reach that moment in Monreal in two days time. 

As we crossed the Aragón River we simply had to climb out of the valley to reach Berdun, 

As usual, Annemarie was racing ahead to get off the bridge ASAP!

And soon afterwards, Berdun. It reminded us of several hill towns we’d climbed up to in central Sicily this past spring. Our ‘emergency’ shelter.

After a quick shower that barely trickled, we had lunch then explored town. This is our view from our small window balcony. I really hope that they turn off the bells after 10!

The views were quite nice looking both directions up and down the Canal de Berdun. I could explain how the plain was formed, but then you’d likely be asleep quite soon afterwards. Suffice it to say that it’s really, really flat and actually pretty boring to walk along until you have the pleasure of a climb off the plain. Looking back to Jaca (not visible 40 kms in the distance) where we took a rain day.

Looking west, a bit like the Alberta badlands. Puck, the reservoir is left of this photo and we were to have stayed there tonight. Alas we miss out.

We’ve walked all the way down to the highway to have a cold beer, some chips and to post this update. No wifi at our hotel tonight:(  The beer and chips are helping to make up for this slight problem and the trudge back up the hill to find dinner.

Little Adjustments: we knew that our planned stop for today was completely booked, but the owner had promised he would fit us in somehow. Then last night we learned he had a group of 50 people coming in for a two day event, and we decided his resources would be stretched beyond the limit. We reviewed our guide for options, and revised our plan. The revised plan means we will bus a short section, but it also means we will be able to walk a variant through a gorge that Geoff had really wanted to walk. These kinds of little adjustments are not uncommon for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. They find there are hints that things they had planned to do that are no longer possible, or perhaps not possible at the moment, and they adjust accordingly. This may mean a large group dinner becomes a small family gathering, or a favourite hobby now requires help. It’s not a matter of stopping completely, but rather finding new ways or making little adjustments to previous ways of doing things.

Some who follow our walks might recognize this poem from our first walk, updated for this walk.

Little Adjustments

In life, in much of what we do, we make little adjustments

On the Camino this is also true, here are some comments

Our packs might not sit just right 

We might have to loosen a strap or pull one tight

A blister might be forming on a heel

Fix it up with a bandaid and better it will feel

A stage might be longer or shorter than we desire

Other pilgrims will have a solution when we inquire

We might have planned to bus through a 'boring'  stage

But we choose to walk instead and are glad we did engage

Little adjustments in our thoughts and attitudes too

Help us on those tough days to make it through

This is one of those lessons the Camino wants us to learn

We will continue to be aware of the value of little adjustments when we return

It’s five years later now, and we both remember this rhyme

These lessons have stayed with us, withstood the test of time

A planned stop in a village has not worked out for us

We have experience, we can adjust

Our new plan brings us to highlights we would otherwise have missed

Panoramas and hilltop villages that are sun kissed

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