Posts Tagged With: backpacking

The Way of St. Francis: Ups and Downs on Day One

Pieve Santo Stefano was our destination today, an easy stage according to our guidebook. And I guess it wasn’t too bad, although we did climb 1,700 feet before arriving at this lush green meadow.

The meadow was irresistible and knowing that our feet were not yet trail tough, we enjoyed a snack and the view, sans shoes and socks, while we recharged body, mind and spirit.

Eventually, far below us, Pieve Santo Stefano came into view. It was a good day…a quiet day. We saw just two bicyclists and three other picnicking walkers during our eleven mile/six hour day. The Hotel Santo Stefano has been a good choice for these two weary Pilgrims.

Tomorrow we lace up our boots and tackle a more challenging walk to Sansepolcro.

Categories: The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: Packed and Ready to Go

Ready or not, we’re off to Italy where we’ll begin The Way of St. Francis, a pilgrimage that traces the pathway traveled by St. Francis of Assisi in the early 13th century.

Our journey begins in the eastern portion of central Tuscany in Chiusi Della Verna, a small community located below Santaurio (Sanctuary) Della Verna. It was in this area that St. Francis is said to have received the stigmata. We’ve allowed two nights here to explore the history and beauty of the region…and to catch our breath after what promises to be two pretty hectic travel days.

Then we start walking, traveling mostly southward, with a goal of reaching Vatican City (not quite 300 miles away) by mid-May.

Many thanks to Sandy Brown for allowing me to use the above map, his incredibly detailed trekking guide, the links and foolproof instructions for downloading the GPX tracks onto my phone app and for hosting the Way of St Francis (Official Group) Facebook page. The information is invaluable!

As always, we will post on our blog when we’re able, so feel free to follow along on our journey as we walk The Way of St. Francis.

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Roxy Ann Peak

A weathered old oak tree points the way to the top of 3,576 foot Roxy Ann Peak. Lucky for us we didn’t begin at ground zero, but from the city of Medford, 2,200 feet below. Still, a good workout for our upcoming Italian trek.

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The Way of Saint Francis: Training Begins

I stopped for a quick photo this morning as Reg and I neared the top of the 500 foot climb behind our home.

With our upcoming Italian pilgrimage (The Way of Saint Francis) just around the corner, today seemed like a good day to reacquaint ourselves with our backpacks. If the weather cooperates, we should have a couple months to work out any kinks!

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Quit is not in this trekker’s vocabulary

What takes 13 pairs of shoes, 6,000 calories day, 252 days while losing 25 pounds?

Check this out.

 

Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Diversions

The sign on the trail firmly ordered us to stop. It seemed that the Forestry Commission was logging along the section of trail in front of us. We looked to our right where another sign politely insisted we take an alternate route; a diversion. With apologies for the inconvenience and a promise that the new route would “be just a slight bit longer,” it also warned of being “rather steep, slippery and uneven, so do be careful.” An orange arrow pointed us downhill. It was suggested that bicycle riders dismount. We looked at each other, rolled our eyes and began the descent.

The good news was that our diversion provided us with a great view of Loch Ness.

Steep? Yes it was. We dropped all the way down to the road, traveling parallel with the traffic before starting the climb back up from where we came. As you can see in the bottom left photo, Reg is just a blue speck as he makes his way back up to the trees that border The Great Glen Way.

So, one never knows where the road ahead will lead and diversions are inevitable. While we've decided to end our walking two days early and head for Inverness, we look forward to new adventures…on our diverted path.

 

Categories: Scottish Highlands and beyond | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wee bits we’ll remember

 

Tulips signal spring has arrived; Scottish pride on the flag pole and in a bottle; sheep are everywhere; a wet and slippery tunnel under the railroad.

An old cemetery on a family sheep farm; the clouds above are as beautiful as the landscape below; this cottage is dwarfed by the Munro behind; a simple Scottish breakfast; A piper greets us at Fort Augustus.

 

 

 

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Short walk – full day

The Great Glen Water Park is a beautiful spot for a self-catering holiday.

While Reg “went the extra mile” for us today, in search of lunch, I relaxed and admired the view from the restaurant patio of The Great Glen Water Park. I was promised a short day; just nine miles. No backtracking for me…my feet were not going to walk any more than that! Today was a beautiful warm day with barely a cloud in the sky and I had a pleasant spot to relax.

We didn't get the early start we had hoped for, but once we got going our day was beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We've seen some beautiful scenery since we set out from Fort William. Today's walk was a pleasant, flat path along the old railroad tracks. It took us through woods, alongside Loch Oich and into Fort Augustus for the night.

 

 

 

We rested our feet and backs while watching this chatty Lock Master do her job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we approached Kytra Lock, we had a front row seat where we saw just how the boats maneuver through the locks. Under the skilled hand of the Lock Master (this one was a woman) the water level rose and lifted the boat to the level of the canal. Once the water levels were even, the gates swung open and we all waved as the boat cruised through. Unfortunately this crew was headed in the opposite direction as us, so we were unable to hitch a ride!

 

 

 

 

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Back at sea level

We faced another wet day as we started our week-long trek towards Inverness along the Great Glen Way.

We said good-bye to Fort William Sunday morning as we continued on our trek through Scotland. We also said good-bye to some familiar faces. We've (proudly) been keeping pace with a group of college kids for the last few days. Sometimes passing them on the trail, but more often getting passed up by the foursome. Yesterday, they reached Fort William just before us and are now heading their separate ways.

A chance meeting at breakfast Sunday reunited us with Heather, our roommate from several days ago. She also has ongoing European travel plans before heading back to school for a graduate degree. It's exciting to hear what these young people are doing…things that we never would have considered when in our twenties. All are really nice kids who didn't seem to mind talking with us old folks!

So we wished them all well and set off on the next leg of our adventure, The Great Glen Way, along the Caledonian Canal towards Inverness. The waterway creates a shortcut for vessels, linking the east and west coasts of Scotland. Today we saw a parade of fishing vessels cruising through, as well as several pleasure boats. The rain eventually tapered off as we enjoyed a change of scenery and a very flat pathway.

 

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Robert Burns on the Highlands

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,

My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;

Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,

My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

--Robert Burns, 1759-1796

 

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