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Published: October 10th 2005
I got back at a reasonable hour on Saturday and Chantal my roommate asked me if I wanted to go hiking on Sunday. She said it wouldn’t be too long and was supposed to be a beautiful day so I of course agreed. Chantal had said it was going to be 30 kilometers but since she said it was going to be short I figured that my math skills were slipping because 18+ miles wasn’t a light hike in my opinion. She is a part of a hiking club that goes every Sunday and they meet at some train station in Paris at a specific time and then hikes for the day and comes back before too late in the evening. It turns out she was right the hike was 30 km (18.6 miles!!) and so we left at dawn to meet the group and travel by train to a forest bit to the south of Paris. Chantal and I were able to bond on the train ride as we discussed our recent travels and we arrived in about an hour or so to a place that looked to me to be rather residential.
So we walked through two smaller
The man standing up in the pink was the guide and this is him pouring wine for those who wanted it!
towns and then started on a walk in the forest. I was thinking it was rather flat and therefore the 18 miles wasn’t going to be too bad. These thoughts tempted fate and soon we were heading up rather substantial hills. They wouldn’t have been so bad but the French being the direct people they are evidently think that switchbacks are a waste of time so we all headed STRAIGHT up, which is a rather steep and exhausting expenditure of energy. So we would walk along the top of these hills and then descend and scramble up another one.
Chantal fell behind me (maybe because she smoked a cigarette during each of our rests, just a thought) so this gave me an opportunity to be brave and make conversation. I did not take it. I was paralyzed by my fears but I wandered along listening to those around me, and focusing on my breathing up as I walked up the hills. BUT then someone talked to me! This fortysomething guy named Claude caught up to me and asked me how long I’d been hiking because I seemed to be in such good form (hum, this is not true, I am
We turned a corner and BAM, there it was!
still trying to get back into shape after mono and the hike was hard at times) and then we spun off into talking about books and Harry Potter! I love how it is such a uniting force around the world! He is a postal worker whose passion is reading and does not have the money to travel but finds enough satisfaction from reading and traveling within his imagination through books…..the conversation was good and his responses were so well founded and like many I have gotten from French people. He was delighted that and American would want to come to France to live and study and was patient with me and my skills.
We stopped for a lunch break, which was something else and quite a cultural experience. The group of twenty or so spread out on the hillside in the forest and spread out little blankets and set out their lunches (no PB&J to be seen) and settled in for a forty-five minute break! Then the guide (who wore a pink shirt, had a mustache and a silk scarf around his neck) stood up with a bottle of wine with which he traveled from person to person giving them
Time for a rest! But where is the wine?
a bit! I finished my lunch and was enjoying the falling leaves when I looked up to see the guide standing up passing around a bit of cake! WHAT?! He made and carried a cake 15 km?! It was good nonetheless and I appreciated his lugging it along.
Along our walk when we got close to towns there were families out gathering chestnuts. which was a multi generational varied intensity event. We saw people with baskets and working gloves and others with plastic bags and buckets. It made me happy to see the fall traditions they have here. Another difference from Colorado hikes were the chateau and castles we passed along the way. The other people hardly stopped to give them a second glance unless our guide called for a break, I guess when you live in it you get used to it! We walked from the train station up 31km through the forest to another train station further up the line and then came home sweet home and a shower. My legs are a little stiff but it is reassuring that I can walk 30 km without too much difficulty and with a great deal of enjoyment!
Back to school and back to trying to balance schoolwork and Paris fun! My classes were actually all very good and more exciting than daunting. My Art History course was my favorite and the professor seems to be really good too. We meet in the Louvre next week for our class! YIPEE!
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