It has been a gruelling day to say the least. I left the Convento at 0630 and went straight for a coffee at the petrol station. Then, as I was feeling the effects of the caffeine, I stopped at a bakery and bought an apple strudel to water it down a little. Shortly after that, a man stopped in his car and wanted to know more about the VF. He asked if I was travelling in a group and I told him I was, as I didn't trust him. I thought that any local person would probably know all about the VF, and I referred him to the bookstore in town for information.
I didn't give him too much thought, but when I saw him driving through the next village I became concerned. Why didn't he have somewhere else to go, like work, at that time of day? I decided to hang around a while to see if any of the others would show up, just in case he was a pelligrina stalker. The next challenge was getting across,a bridge where it was either wade ankle deep through the rapids or tight walk across a log with about a 7" diameter. I tried the log but quickly discovered that maintaining balance with a backpack is not easy. Meanwhile I was being observed by a group of loggers, who were cutting trees in the area. One of them yelled at me from the other side, urging me to go the log route and then came over to the other side of it and held out his hand. He told me to out one foot in front of the other, which I did. Soon I was over and gratefully, on my way.
The rest of the day was just as strange. Steep mountain trails with loose shale, ankle deep mud, numerous water crossings, skin shredding brambles and an attack by a troupe of ticks. Yes, ticks! By the time I dragged myself into the convento at Aulla 12 hours after I started, I had no less than 7 ticks lodged into my legs and I looked as though I had been in a fight - covered in scratches, dried blood and heat rash. But back to the ticks. The worst of them is that you cant feel the little buggers, even as they are burrowing in. I guess they spit out some sort of anesthetic so you can remain blissfully ignorant of the fact that there is a small bug busy making its way into your body. God knows if there any in my scalp...
By 1300 I had only walked 16 km and I was stymied as to how it could have been. I had stopped yes, but still. Not to mention the fact that I still had another 16 km to go. I was feelong slightly dejected when I caught up to an Austrian woman named Sylvia who I had seen the day before. We walked the rest of the way, and I was grateful for her company. It helped the time pass much more nicely!
Needless to say, I was absolutely knackered when I set myself down on the bed and a shower and change of clothes never felt better. I managed to divest myself of my little visitors by covering them with vaseline. The ideas is that that cant breathe anymore and have to back out.
At dinner, I availed myself of the local take out pizza joint and a beer from the little store down the street from the convento. I never eat pizza and hardly ever drink beer anymore, but they were almost the only choices I had. I figure there isnt much that will keep me awake tonight.
Tomorrow promises similar challenging terrain, so my intent is to walk just 16 km to Sarzana. I don't want to push my luck by trying to do another long day...