20 Sep 10: Conques to Livenhac le Haut

Route: 21 km with 1080 ft climb and a 1380 ft descent

Tour: The climb up out of Conques was, well, legendary. The very first step was chest-high and I thought I was a goner. But the Chapel of Saint Roch made a halfway stop, and after an hour total we were up out of the gorge, standing on the ridge, with nice views all around. I was walking with the Canadians, who had concocted a variant-variant-shortcut scheme as follows: Follow the signs to Noilhac (variant marked) until the T-intersection at road D580, where Noilhac markings go left and you can see the steeple of St Roch chapel (2nd one today) on the right. Turn right and proceed to the chapel, where variant waymarks resume. COntinue to follow D580 through Agnac, now following other variant as marked in MMD to (3rd for the day) Chapel of St Roch, where the main GR65 markings resume, and then it’s another hour downhill into Livenhac. This route saves 5 km, and took us from 7:45 to 4:30 with the usual stops. There is water in Agnac (marked in MMD) and in Beausoiles (not marked in MMD – behind the school). Apart from the climb out of Conques and the descent into Livenhac, the entire route is pavement or road shoulder walking, very hard on the feet. We were all exhausted. I recommend a shorter day! The Canadians lodged at La Magnanerie, slept in the tower, and enjoyed it.

Lodging: I was at the Gite Communal, in a 3-bed room with a German couple. They had been entangled in the rail strike on Sept 7 on their way into Le Puy, and were afraid of similar difficulties on their way out. Eventhough they regularly do marathons, they had never encountered a day such as this, they said. The trail routes in Germany are much better maintained by their report; they live near Frankfurt and had walked they whole way from there over the course of several years, walking a few weeks each year.

Cuisine: Fortunately the Canadians’ gite had reminded that everything in Livenhac closes on Monday, the day of our arrival. So we stocked up on picnic supplies on Sunday afternoon in Conques. We had to continually be careful of meal and supply planning in anticipation of the Sunday and Monday closings.

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