Been home a week now and have had a chance to think about my trip and what I have learnt from it. I thought that I would pass these thought on as they may even be helpful to someone and will also be useful to me as an aide memoire when I come to planning my next trip.
Practically all my clothes were from Rohan as over the years I have found that pretty much all their stuff suits me and works very well.
I took two of their Wayfarer shirts and each day washed the one I had been wearing and wore the clean one. In that climate I had no trouble getting things dry overnight. I took one pair of Fusion Shorts for walking and a pair of Bags for other times. I don’t like ‘zip-off’ trousers that many people favour as they are a compromise and don’t work for me. In addition I took two pairs of the famous Rohan ‘Magic Pants’ (Cool Silver Trunks) which were very comfortable and did everything they were supposed to do. A Microgrid Stowaway Zip fleece was taken out each evening but never used.
I took a Rohan Escapist Jacket and Elite Overtrousers as my waterproofs and, happily, they were never used. I also took a Rohan Inner Flame insulated gilet and a pair of Lowe Alpine leggings in case it got cold at night; these were a mistake and will be deleted from my next packing list.
Everything was topped off with a very old Rohan wide brimmed hat which has done sterling service on a number of treks and hopefully will go on for ever.
On my feet I used a well broken in pair of Salomon GoreTex lined boots with Bridgedale Trekking socks and liners plus Sorbothane foot beds. Everything worked well but I fell foul of too much road walking. The boots are probably very near the end of their useful life and will be replaced with a lighter pair. I prefer boots to shoes as I need the stability they provide and they are good on the very rough paths. I also took a pair of Ecco sandals which are superbly comfortable.
My rucksack is an Osprey Talon 33 and has come to the end of its useful life. In the past it has been attacked by mice so is looking very tatty and, frankly, the padding in the straps and hipbelt is completely knackered. At 33 litres is was just a shade too small, everything fitted in but only just. The up side is that it carried very well and will probably be replaced with another Osprey pack but of around 38 litres.
I bought a pair of Leki Micro Sticks for this trip; these are very light and fold up into three sections so very compact. This is useful for going into churches, restaurants, on buses and flights etc. They were not cheap even with discount but in my view were worth every penny.
Of the other things I took I could cut down on some of my washing kit and certainly on the amount of ‘first aid’ I took. Inevitably these days there were charging leads and plugs for things and next time I will just pack them differently as they took up more room than necessary.
The most useful things were:
The Leki Micro Stick walking poles
My inflatable shirt hanger which makes drying a shirt so much easier. Yes, really!
A universal sink/bath plug. Have the French never heard of plugs?
My guide books were very good and as explained in an earlier blog I only took the pages I needed. On a couple of occasions I found that I was not sure of my route and on both occasions a local came over and offered me assistance, for which I am most grateful. I was wrong not to have done more planning especially regarding accommodation; the ‘Four French Ladies’ were away for three weeks and had pre-booked every night’s lodgings. If you are relying on using church or parish pilgrim hostels you cannot pre-book and have to rely on getting a bed by being there when they open but there are plenty of inexpensive places available that will take bookings and I will look at doing this on my next visit.
For the most part I had breakfast and an evening meal and I did eat most awfully well, but it is my only weakness! When I got home my body shape had certainly changed for the better but ………… I had put ON weight.
Now I will look forward to those long winter nights planning the next section in more detail in line with the things I have learnt this time, and look forward to the next section which looks wonderful and goes somewhere up there.
7 October 2013