July 17, 2008

Day2: 15 April- Montbonnet to Monistrol-d'Allier

Snow lay on the ground this morning
as I climbed up past farms,
then through forest
where everything was still
and snow hung on the leaves of the fir trees
magical, beautiful
Then came the descent to Saint Privat d'Allier
that I had been warned about
so I took extra care, and came down safely

to discover a magnificent 12th century church
Romanesque, its arches hewed from volcanic rocks.
Those who have done the Le Puy route
will all quickly tell you how up and down it travels
at the beginning.
The path climbed again out of St Privat
as I listened to the bells tinkling on the sheep nearby.

The chapel of Rochegude stood solid on its high rock
its position a statement from centuries past
its humble wooden floor, permeated with the very rock foundation
telling a story of simplicity to the present.
I ate lunch with a group on the hillock by the tower
camaraderie easy with fellow walkers
superb views all around.

A long rocky descent followed to Pratclaux
then more descent to Monistrol-d'Allier
resting place for the second night.

2012: I remembered feeling quite exhausted last time when I arrived in Monistrol d'Allier, and put it down to my newbie-ness. But I realised today that some parts were harder than I remembered- especially the descent from the little chapel of Rochegude, which had large rocks to clamber down, tricky for one with shortish legs. There was ample reason for my exhaustion! 
And yet I had remembered the snow that I had walked through in the forest near Montbonnet in clear detail. I was to discover how often my brain had done this: I remembered the weather I had encountered in certain places, but did not always have a good recollection of how difficult the terrain might have been.

I enjoyed the evening in the Gîte Tsabone very much. I had stayed here in 2008 also, but now it is run by a different young couple, and they were very welcoming. I met Brigitte and Christine here, two French cousins, and our paths were to cross often over the coming week.

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