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  • Writer's pictureWill


Updated: Mar 16, 2021

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Photo: This is what my route should have been ... approximately.

It was a perfect personal storm. I was fat and unfit for the walk. The combination of being lost or constantly anxious about being lost was grinding. Add to this my strong sense of isolation, the knowledge that out here, no one cared about me. I had no outside stimulus, no music, radio, tv, internet, I had no extra mental entertainment. My head was left to listen to its self, and it turns out, my head was not very funny.

After I left the building site I was heading through the town of Lodéve and on to Lunas, about 6 hours. It didn’t happen.

The first village was, how to put it, really strange. One street, on either side, four-story apartment blocks, every one of which had steel shutters, windows and doors. Nothing else, no parked cars, dogs, people, noise, nothing. Just block after block of abandoned apartments. It was odd how such a silly incident could unsettle me but it did.

An hour later, minding my own business while chuntering to myself about how no one likes me, two little git dogs burst out of a garden gate and attacked me. Thanks to two million years of evolution my adrenal medulla kicked a bucket load of drugs into my system. Fight or flight? I chose to fight, shouting and kicking at the little bleeders. And then the owner came out and started shouting … at me! I used a lot of French on him.

It must have taken an hour to calm down. At least the route was easy, one simple track. I stopped at a little river for a rest. Poured water from my 2L bottle into my ½L bottle. Got up and walked on, totally forgot to put the big bottle of water back in my pack.

To the left of me, a two-metre high bank with a three-strand barbed wire fence, and to the right of me some nasty looking thorn bushes bordering the river. No difficult choices, no chance of getting lost, and no chance of avoiding fifty cows.

I don’t like cows. In this setting no one would like cows. They are all hanging about, just chillin, having a chat, on the ford I needed to cross. I threw a stick, I ran towards them and threw a rock, I shouted and ran towards them while throwing a rock. Cows are thick, and I was stuck. The bushes were a no go. A minute later cursing, climbing, sliding, swearing, and hating cows, I found myself impaled on a barbed-wire fence. My shorts were torn, my t-shirt was torn and my right arm and left leg were little bleeders.

A combination of thorn bushes, cows and a deep stream meant I had to cut cross country and “hope” I found my path.

Somewhere in the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park, I made a wrong turn. And then proceeded to avoid every single form of habitation for the next six hours. I have no idea where I ended up.

Photo: note to self, must bring sunscreen

Tired, hungry, thirsty and depressed, I spent the night in a woodshed.

Photo: the first map was my intended route, this is nearly my actual route. As you can see, I missed Lodéve by a few kilometres.


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