I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Day 40: Martigny To Orsières (2)

Leaving La Garde, I continued to follow upstream the spectacular, V-shaped valley of the river Dranse. From my school Geography lessons I remembered that these slopes were called interlocking spurs, formed by the river taking the course of least resistance . . .

Turning hay . . .

. . . on a warm afternoon in the Dranse valley.

Everywhere . . .

. . . was just so green and lush.

As I continued along the valley, higher peaks beckoned . . .

Taken from the main square in Orsières. 'Pam' is the name of a chain of Italian supermarkets — showing just how near I was to Italy.

A helpful lady pointed me to the priest's house, and the priest, Abbé Jean-Michel, showed me to the gîte pictured above, which was actually a venue used for church functions. It had a kitchen, shower, WC, and mattresses upstairs in the attic. It was all very clean and comfortable — the gîtes are of a much higher standard in Switzerland. The recommended price for the night was a very reasonable 10 Swiss francs. Here I met a German couple, Jürgen and Christina, who had just begun a week's walking on the Via Francigena. Christina had never been on pilgrimage before; her créanciale, or pilgrim passport, had been a 60th birthday present to her from Jürgen. I was the first pilgrim she had ever met, so I tried to make a good impression! They were very nice people — he owned a bicycle shop and she was an art therapist. Later that evening we shared a bottle of red wine and talked together. After all these weeks speaking French, my German had become a little rusty, and their English was not brilliant, but we managed fine. Before I crawled into my sleeping bag I read a text from Peter saying he had reached the Col du Grand Saint-Bernard and was already 20 km past the border — and it was much easier going downhill! Of Pierre he had seen no sign.     

Opposite the gîte was the Église Saint-Nicholas . . .

. . . which containd some striking, modern stained glass windows.

The river Dranse in Orsières.

Wooden bridge connecting church and cemetery.

I can't quite work out what this stone column commemorates in this pleasant corner of Orsières.

8 comments:

am said...

Interlocking spurs. That form of landscape is oddly familiar and dearly loved by me, but I had not know that there was a name for it. I found some examples of where I might have seen it before.

Kings Canyon in California:

http://jmason.org.s3-website-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/albums/2005-09-Kings-Canyon/tn/interlocking-spurs.jpg.index.html

Death Valley in California:

https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/cymruwales/4986781406/in/set-72157624947284582/

The interlocking spurs make me think of how I I picture Tolkien and Narnian landscapes.

There are interlocking spurs in my inner landscape (-:

"It could even be like a myth."

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, as always, so much for this, Am!

It's all in the name... 'interlocking'...

Timecheck said...

Your talk of Swiss francs reminded me - how did you get your francs? ATM in Geneva? How often to resupply (francs)?

The Solitary Walker said...

ATM in Sainte-Croix, the first town after the border on the VF. Resupply is easy as most towns and large villages have ATMs.

Richard Hughes said...

I like the stained glass window and the covered bridge a lot.

The Solitary Walker said...

Me too, Richard.

Ruth said...

Those scenes are beautiful. As always, I love hearing about your fellow pilgrims, this time Jürgen and Christina. I like picturing you journaling these details after crawling into your sleeping bag, or maybe before, sitting at your humble table, whether linoleum or lap under a tree.

The Solitary Walker said...

Ruth — I'm really enjoying sharing these pictures and accounts!