7 Sep 10: Montbonnet to Monistrol D’Allier

Route: 13 km with 500 ft descent

Tour: Still rainy this morning, and much cooler, for which we were grateful. The rain gear (hat, poncho, gaiters, pack cover) worked well – and would have worked better if I’d left it in place (breaks in the weather suckered us in). There was a small climb followed by much descent, over very stoney paths well-eroded by water runoff. We stopped for lunch at Saint Privat D’Allier (many itineraries reach this point their first night), then continued with another climb and a hellacious steep descent over a stoney, eroded, slick-with-rain trail. We stopped briefly at the 12th century chapel in Rochegude. Then we tackled the final 5 km down into the steep river gorge of the Allier.

Lodging: Gite La Tsabone, where we did the bed-bug drill again.

Cuisine: Lunch was superb and afforded a two hour rest break in the bargain. This is pate country, and the starter was a fresh duck pate with a small green salad and cornichons on the side. Main was a luxurious beef daub (stew) with spaghetti tossed in garlic butter. Dessert was the most chocolatey chocolate mousse I’ve ever had, followed by cheese and coffee. Dinner was tasty at the gite demi-pension. The starter was a lentil and carrot soup. Main was cabbage stuffed with pork and greens, baked potato on the side. Dessert was a mirabelle (yellow plum) tart.

Grace: The storm which had been dogging us most of the day intensified after we reached our lodging. There was much lightning and heavy rain as the squall line moved through. We Northwesterners are not accustomed to such violent and dramatic weather! Despite periodic heavy rain and a steep trail in terrible condition, we have no injuries and are very grateful. We must have seen twenty other pilgrims today, similar to yesterday. These are much larger crowds than we were anticipating. The planned itinerary for distance and elevation each day seems to be about right for our physical condition and equipment.

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