I had an incredibly lazy start to the day as I didn't bother to set my alarm clock, and then spent about half an hour laid out in bed (with three blankets keeping me very warm) wondering if I could justifiably claim the title of the laziest pilgrim in the world. I finally started walking just before 11am, with my left shin giving me real grief when I walked on anything other than horizontal ground - and the route out of Hôpital St-Blaise was through fairly rugged terrain, with lots of mud. I've tried to walk most of the GR route between Lourdes and St. Jean Pied-de-Port, and stuck to it today, although climbing up banks of slippery, muddy terrain wasn't particularly fun. My feet were completely sodden and my shoes and socks were caked in mud.
The GR route left the woods about halfway through the day, and followed a rough lane until Mauleon. I celebrated this by opening the tin of pâté, and it was delicious! Or a triumph, as my mother would say.
Mauleon had a pharmacy with free wifi, so after I'd ibuprofened the crap out of my ankle I had a 20 minute Internet hit. There's a slight order of importance when making the most of fleeting wifi connections. My number one priority is updating my podcasts. Updating my blog is second - and after that I deal with Twitter and email. The connection died before I managed to get onto the news websites and Facebook, but I have new things to listen to, which keeps me sane when I'm doing battle with the Pyrenean mud. You can see from the photo what a day of walking in wet conditions has done to my feet - not good!
Tonight I'm staying with a lovely couple five kilometres west of Ordiarp. Madame Altharbe walked the route to Santiago after her son died a few years ago - he was about six months younger than me, and I think died from a brain haemorrhage. She showed me the photo of him - a fine looking man who was renown for his traditional basque dancing. Their house is perfectly located to do the section from L'Hôpital Ste-Blaise to St. Jean Pied-de-Port in two long days. Tomorrow is going to be hard.