Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Tuesday 6 May 2008 - Long Distance Walkers and Orion Marches

Daryl May finished his JOGLE walk at the end of April. This true gentleman contacted me immediately to let me know and thank me for taking the trouble to seek him out. It was my pleasure, Daryl. Alan Sloman did likewise, was treated likewise, and has recorded his feelings here. I completely agree with Alan’s thoughts.

Also ‘on the road’ at present are Gayle and Mick, heading north on their LEJOG. For a bit of daily entertainment I recommend Gayle’s humorous entries. They are doing well, already having reached the Offa’s Dyke path.

Thomas, another American acquaintance, called me from York last week. It was good to hear from him (I still have to report on our travels together last year). By now he should be progressing smoothly along the West Highland Way in his inimitable septuagenarian fashion. Good on you Thomas, I hope the sun is shining and you are making lots of new friends.

That brings me to ‘Orion Marches’. That Michael Roberts’ book of poetry referred to in my blog of 30 November.
Jim Perrin’s article in June’s TGO magazine brought it back to me. The lines he quotes from ‘The Green Lake’ are favourites of mine:

The mountain lake mirrors the hills, and the white clouds
Move in a blue depth, the hut stands empty:
No one appears all day, nothing disturbs
The symphony of ice and yellow rock and the blue shadow.
And at dusk the familiar sequence: the light
Lingering on the peak; and near the horizon
Apricot-coloured skies, then purple; and the first stars;
An hour of bustle in the hut, and then silence.

But Jim is trying to relate the poem to the remote bothies found in the UK. Like me, he would often prefer to camp outside rather than endure the dark, hovel-like interiors. But the poem is not about those sorts of places. It’s about Alpine Huts, with guardians, where climbers rise early and return late; where it’s too rocky and icy to camp outside. These are great places of companionship, with huge ‘mountain meals’ prepared by the guardian and his family.
Great places.
I met Thomas at one of them – Lagazuoi – in the Dolomites. The character is often provided by the people who run them; that’s why we stay there, we are made to feel welcome. Unlike the hovels that masquerade as bothies in the UK. I don’t like them (how did you guess), but some hostels in the UK are wonderful. You need go no further than Gerry’s, in Achnashellach, to discover this fact.
As for Alpine refuges, it’s not quite the type Michael Roberts wrote about in ‘The Green Lake’, but the Marialles Refuge below Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees is one of many that hold wonderful memories – five of us staying, speaking three different languages, but with common interests and goals. The evening featured a wonderful stew from the lady guardian, who then embarked on a reading from a book about a Buddhist priest in Thailand. “Très philosophique” she said!

Today’s postcard is the early morning view from that Refuge prior to our ascent of Canigou the following day (13 September 2004).

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