Saturday, Oct 6th, 2007
A very nice hike today. Tiring, but very nice. Beautiful countryside with cliffs and gorges, autumn colors, the trails led over several shoulders and up and down some scenic valleys... just a very nice hike. Took around 6.5 hours, so another fairly long day.
As expected, we saw no other hikers. On the other hand, we did see several hunters, and heard but did not see several more. They are hunting wild boar, of which there appear to be many around, judging by the number of patches of rooted-up ground I have seen.
It is a little unnerving at times to be walking through a hunt, hearing shots, and rounding corners to see orange-hatted men standing around cradling guns, but they have all been very friendly.
Of course, their pleasant characters won't help us much if they shoot us accidentally, but we whistle non-stop (which they recommend) and they do seem quite professional. If we make it through tomorrow unscathed, then we should be OK for a while: they mostly hunt on the weekends.
We haven't seen much in the way of wild animals since leaving Monaco (although this is perhaps not surprising given my whistling :-), but Sally did almost have a head-on collision with a Mouflon today -- a powerfully built type of wild mountain sheep with impressive curling horns. She says it came charging down the trail, screeched to a halt when it saw her, and after a few seconds in which they eyed one another, turned around and bounded off.
From which you may deduce both that Sally is way scarier than a mountain ram, and also that she has been hiking out front again.
Today was another day for which rain had been predicted but failed to materialize: blue skies and almost uninterrupted sunshine. The locals tell us that the weather forecasters have been predicting rain every three or four days since June, but that they have had nothing yet. However, although the forests are clearly quite dry, they don't seem to be parched and we have seen no smoke or signs of recent fires.
So I suspect that despite the complaints of the locals there has been some rainfall, just not a soaking rain. In consequence, the fire risk has been manageable but the rivers are extremely low.
We arrive at the hotel this afternoon and Russ takes one look at his and Sally's bed and says, we won't fit in that. I'm not quite sure why: it is a normal double bed and I'd feel quite comfortable sharing it with Lidia. On the other hand, they are both quite broad-shouldered, and Sally says that Russell is like a Thresher Shark when he sleeps, prone to lay waste to anything and anyone around him when he "turns over", if such a violent motion can be so described.
So since there is nothing else free in the hotel, the owner of the hotel gets on the phone and arranges another room with a local B&B. In fact, there are several rooms free in the B&B, and the hotel owner initially assumes that we will all move over there.
I have already unpacked and anyway the B&B is several hundred meters away, so there is no way I'm moving. Amusingly Russell decides he also doesn't want to walk any more, so he is staying too. And most amusing of all, Sally is thrilled to be on her own for the first time in months, and is more than happy to walk some more for the privilege! So off she goes and we'll see her tomorrow morning.
Tough hike, the H2H.