Voie de Vézelay, Day 33/34




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 where 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 the ground.










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
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
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 where riding motorcycles on the straight roads with high speeds.






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 where 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
Chapelle Notre-Dame de Lugaut



In front of the chapel
In front of the chapel


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
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.



Inscription of a pilgrim
Inscription of a pilgrim



Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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