DAY THIRTYTHREE and THIRTYFOUR
BAZAS - CAPTIEUX - ROQUEFORT
Lass dir alles geschehen: Schönheit und Schrecken.
Man muss nur gehen: Kein Gefühl ist das fernste.
Lass dich von mir nicht trennen.
Nah ist das Land
das sie Leben nennen..
Rainer Maria Rilke
Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread. Just walk – no feeling is too far.
Do not let yourself be disconnected from me. Very close is the land they call life.
The two days of hiking were miles and miles and miles straight to the west on a
former railroad track through a dense forest with hardly any villages in between.
The singing of the birds, the sounds of the cicadas and the whispering of the wind
in the treetops were the only sounds going with me. Several feet high ferns were
growing in between oak and pine trees where the sunlight was making interesting
patterns of light and shade.
The seemingly endless way to the west reminded me of a saying of Rosenblum Roshi.
He compared our life as being on a railroad track with no beginning or end. In
reality, he said, there is nobody in front or in the back of you. Everything is relative.
The pathway was leading over and under bridges and sometimes the golden yellow
heads of little chanterelles where peaking out of a dense layer of dry oak leaves on
In the many hours of walk with not much change of scenery, my mind wanted to be
more active. Therefore, I started to memorize one of my favorite Rilke poems. Just
walking, breathing, listening to the sounds of nature, feeling the warm air in my face
and the words of the poem filled me with great joy.
Chanterelle covered by oak leaves
In Captieux, I stayed at the Syndicat d’initiative run by the city. It was a little house
that was newly renovated inside. After cleaning it a bit, I felt very comfortable. I
used some of the nettles growing outside for making nettle tea.
Terrace of the refuge
The next day was another day of walking on the former railroad tracks for 23 miles.
Since Captieux, I was in the region of Les Landes. Until the 19th century, this area
was very dangerous to walk through, as the soil consists of white, loose sand, which
became a dangerous swampland during heavy rain. Napoleon III ordered pine trees
to be planted. Now Les Landes is one of the biggest forest areas in Europe.
Sometimes, young kids were riding motorcycles on the straight roads with high
Pigeon hunting and looking for mushrooms are two favorite things people like to do
in Les Landes. Luckily, I only met mushroom hunters. The mushrooms were not
only plentiful, but also gigantic.
In the middle of nowhere, a little 12th century chapel suddenly appeared. For the
pilgrims in the Middle Ages, this chapel was for sure a great relief.
Chapelle Notre-Dame de Lugaut
I had to pick up the key for the refuge in Roquefort at a bar. I was the only one
staying overnight in the big house. A plate of fruit on the dining room table and
flowers on each nightstand showed that the people really cared for this place.
I loved the medieval character of the town.
View to the 12th century church Église Notre Dame de l’Assomption
Many people before me stayed overnight at the refuge. To my joy, I discovered in the
pilgrim’s book the inscription of Emeline, the woman I met on the second day in
Saint Reverien. Several days ago, she was at the same refuge.
- Text and photos contributed by Garyo -