Day 20: A hitchhiker’s guide to the GR10

Bonac – Cabine de L’Artigue via Seix

Distance: 35km (on foot) 15km (by car)

Elevation: No idea, maybe 400m

Fuel: Soggy pain au chocolat, cafe au lait, peanuts, mars bar, best pizza EVER, baguette and chorizo.
When a car stops, the driver winds down their window and you ask for sex, something about your day is not going to plan.

The day began wet. A monstrous thunderstorm hit at about 5.30am, just as our alarms went off in preparation for a big day. So we stayed snuggled in our sleeping bags for another two hours waiting for it to pass. It did not pass. Eventually, with their thunder echoing around us and the rain showing no signs of going anywhere, we bit the bullet and packed up. Have I ever mentioned that there is NOTHING worse than packing up in the rain? Especially when you know you’ll be carting around the wet stuff all day and probably sleeping in a wet tent that night. On the upside, this was the first real wet day we’ve had, so we have to count ourselves lucky. 

The rain was nothing short of torrential, with mud rivers flowing down the village streets. Turns out this village was victim of a mudslide a year ago, and watching the men shovelling mud from in front of the church, it seems they haven’t really done much to stop another one. There was no way we would go anywhere in this, so we hit the one and only bar/restaurant and prayed they were open for coffee. They were. We joined an American guy and his daughter (who live in Montpellier) for a coffee and chat while we waited for the rain to pass. An hour later, it was still raining but not as heavy so we decided to chance it. 

New plan: Hitchhike to Seix or Etang de Bethmale to rejoin the GR10. 

Everyone wished us “Bon chance” as we left, their sideways glances telling us that we’d struggle achieving our goal.

Just as we started walking, the rain returned. We were drenched. One car passed – no luck. 

Another and …wait, are they stopping???

A lovely pair of grey nomads pulled over in their shiny camper van and asked us where we were heading. “Sex” we said (that’s how you pronounce it!). He shook his head and told us they were heading to a small village about 15km away. With no idea where this was and no desire to find out, we agreed and jumped in. 

Nothing makes you realise how wet and smelly you are like getting into a sparkling new van with white leather seats. 

But the wonderful couple from Bretagne (Brittany) didn’t seem to mind as they carefully navigated the narrow mountain roads in the torrential rain. 

As with all great things, our time in the warm, dry van came to an end. We left them with au revoirs, merci beaucoups and a few puddles. 

It was time to hit the road. For the next six kilometres, we put our heads down, hoods up and trudged along. We finally reached the lake, Etang de Bethmale, and hightailed it straight to the undercover picnic area. The rain had died down a bit, but we still had about 10km of uphill before we’d reach Seix. 

Thankfully, the rain held off and we hit the pass and ran down to the hamlet of Esbints. From here it would be another six kilometres on the road to Seix, where we could find a mini supermarket to stock up. We must have looked pretty pathetic on the side of the road, rereading the map for the hundredth time, because a car stopped and a long-haired rugged man asked us if we needed help. We explained we were heading to Seix, and in perfect English he said those wonderful words: 

“I’m heading there now. Would you like a ride?”

I don’t even think we answered, we just jumped in! Francis was a sheep farmer from Esbints and was the most humble, lovely human being we could have hoped to meet. We left him in Seix with a thousand thank you’s and made a beeline straight for the only place that was open at 3pm: a pizza place. I don’t even like pizza but inhaled one with egg, bacon and olives before I even realised it had cheese on it. Turns out there are exceptions to my cheese hatred!

We were back on track. Stocked up and satisfied, we hit the trail again for another three hours. The trail took us deep into the forest, hiking alongside waterfalls to reach a hut in the middle of the mountains. The hut was closed to walkers but was the perfect camping spot. Even the horses came to greet us (and taste our laundry…I don’t think it was to their liking!)

As the rain started again, we huddled in the damp tent to devour our baguette and chorizo, listening to a podcast. It had been a weird couple of days but we were finally back on the GR10!

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