Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Day 1 Lavelanet to Ste Colombe sur L'Hers (8.29 miles.)

When we picked it as base we knew nothing about Lavelanet It was simply central and on some major footpaths.
We found it’s not a particularly beautiful town but seems like a good place to live with lots of things going on , some good shops and what seems to be a lot of communal/regional investment. We noticed two sports stadiums, a little theatre, a gym, outdoor pool, even the judo club had dedicated premises. The municipal campsite had a really good new, clean sanitation block, absolutely vital for making camping a reasonable experience. The site was managed by a very helpful lady who agreed that we could leave our car inside the site for the week.
The town used to be a centre of the textile industry. It grew up alongside a fast river. In early times the water was important for washing and dyeing the fabrics; later the water was used to power the looms. Many of the old factory buildings still exist and when we peered through the windows of one near to the textile museum we realised that it was still equipped (or reequipped for display?) with looms.

We slept the night in the ‘monstrosity’ , a tent that gives us loads of space but offends my artistic sensibilities , tents should be nice quiet colours not loud orange and reds. Unfortunately neither of us had a good night as we both felt a bit cold.

It took us forever to pack up the tent, pack and repack rucksacks trying to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind and then get going. It was 11.20am by the time we walked out of the campsite. As soon as I was out of the gate I realised I hadn’t checked glucose level, stop take off backpack; check. ...11.4mmol. I’ve no idea where that came from but decided not to correct Because it was so late we decide to stop for a coffee when we got into town but on arrival the cafe is shut with a , notice on the door ‘en greve’ .(.on strike), momentary panic...what if we get to our first stop and everywhere is shut because of the strike, will we get anything to eat? A quick look around reassures us as the cafe is the only business closed. About 20min later we find an open cafe (Lavelanet is a long town) and check glucose level which had descended to a more reasonable 7.4mmol. In fact at this point I lower my basal rate on the pump to 50%.
Restored (we’d done less than 2 miles!) we shouldered our packs and found our way out of Lavelanet onto the Voie Vert; an old railway track.

We were sensible to choose this route for day 1. It was a fairly easy, flat walk but with a backpack it took us far longer than it would do normally.

We went through a number of small towns once industrially important, now merely sleepy. It astounded me to learn that one industry horn working was big enough to necessitate the importation of horns all the way from New Zealand. I was a bit nervous as we approached a long tunnel, but I had no need to be,it contained movement activated lighting!

By lunchtime I knew that exercise was working it's magic on the glucose levels and I was in the high 3s by the time we sat down on the grass to eat. I cut the insulin for lunch in half and reduced the basal to 20% (0.1unit per hour). Even so I was sub 4 later and needed to stop for a snack before we got to our days campsite.
The site, just next to the track was basic but that didn't matter, we had it to ourselves. We set up camp and went out in search of food. First we found a little shop and checked they would be open the next morning so no worries about picnic for the next day.

We found a very unassuming looking restaurant and booked a table, then back to the site to rest a bit.

The restaurant was a brilliant surprise, A la Bonne Table was a cafe at the front , but at the back, a huge dining room. Since there were no windows the room was dark but was heated by a huge open fire (rather incongrous after the hot day) Later on we noticed it was used to grill steaks.
The meal was fantastic value for money. The portions were generous and everything was beautifully presented. To start a salad with lardons , this was big enough for a main course on it's own, a mixture of leaves topped with a mountain of crisply cooked lardons. To follow I had trout. It came scattered with almonds and accompanied by mussels, prawns and a creamy sauce...with a large number of slightly spicy baked potatoes (sans skin) glucose levels were good and I knew I had no fears about the amount of carbs but I couldn't manage all of them. After that a local sheeps cheese and to finish a thin slice of 'Opera', a gateau filled with a chocolate mousse.
A brisk walk home and to bed in our lightweight tent. A structure altogether more tasteful than the monstrosity

and whether it was the food and wine, or the temperature both of us felt very much warmer than the night before. Glucose level was 5.9 mmol, just a little worried that it might be too low.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Walk We Go.

All packed including the kitchen sink.

This is my first multi day walk since the pump, hopefully fewer hypos than last time on MDI. Being able to reduce background insulin is my main reason for having it.

And meanwhile, here is one of the ups on our journey.

Montségur *this photo was taken by User:Gerbil from de.Wikipedia in August 2006 Category:Montségur)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Kit list

Ok, this is what I've worked out so far. I've also got a second list of things that can go in the car for a more relaxed camp in week 2. I find it very difficult not to try to cover every possibility so I end up with far too much so this maybe more than we take....although I still might think of some essentials we can't leave behind!

Proposed Personal Kit
(until I weigh it and

decide what I don't really need)
Walking poles ***********************Rucksac 50 litre
Sleeping bag ultralite**sleeping mat****Silk sheet sleeping bag
Survival blanket*********************1.5 litre water bottle
Lightweight towel********************Toothbrush/flannel etc
Pants 5***************************** Bras 3
Pyjama top and shorts*************** 3 pairs walking socks, 2pairs ordinary socks
1 pair shorts*************************1 pair convertible shorts/trousers
3 breathable t shirts***************** 1 smarter blouse + 1 t shirt
1 lightweight zipped fleece*************Waterproof Poncho
Sandals ****************Walking boots *********** hat
Camping spoon/knife/forkPlate/cup
Book to read/pen/notebook************ Medical alert bracelet

Diabetes Supplies
Frio ; 1.5 vials insulin; 3 reservoirs; 4 infusion sets; 4 vials chlorehexidine;4 pkts gauze squares ; 2 spare batteries; Meter with new battery ; 3 tubs strips;
3 packets dextrose Small plastic bottle for sharps lancets
In case of pump problem emergency telephone number
Pump failure kit needles ; 2 apidra pens; 2 novorapid pens

And these things have to be divided between OH and I.

Tent Mckinley moonlight 3.2 kg************* Campin Gaz 206 stove with bottle
2 person cook set *************************Wooden spoon/spatula
Plastic egg cups ***************************Egg container with 6 eggs
Tiny salt pepper **************************Small bags with spices/herbs
Dehydrated curry for emergency ***********350g packet wholemeal wraps(If we can't get bread)
Teabags,coffee sachets, sweetner ************100g Dried milk in ziplock
50g Choc drink powder in ziplock************ 200g Muesli in ziplock
200g wholemeal pasta *********************Packet parmesan
Cereal barres ***************************** Matches/lighter
In small plastic bottles, cooking oil, washing up liquid, clothes washing liquid, tiny pegs
Shampoo/shower gel. toothpaste Small tube sunscreen Loo paper
Small first aid kit/ibuprofen/immodium/blister plasters
Camera Spare xd card ; Garmin fore runner and charger; Mobile phone and charger;
Swiss army knife; pan scourer
Maps : 1:25 2247 OT Lavelanet Montsegur 2147 ET Foix

Books: Le Sentier Cathare Barthes ; The Cathar Way Mattingly
Compass/whistle ; Bank cards ; Cash ; Carte vitales./prescription

Oh last but not least a portable, foldable kitchen sink!

More ups and Downs

I'm back, to blog some more ups and downs.

This time not glucose levels, but I'm sure that will come into it. We're off on Friday for a long walk in the Pyrenees . We're doing seven days inclding part of the Sentier des Cathares and then we'll stay at a campsite and do some day walks to some of the other Cathare Castles. We had intended to walk the whole Cathare way but after looking at the logistics found that it would cost far more than we would afford so this is our compromise.

We will drive to Lavelanet on Friday . Next morning is quite a gentle start following the Voie Vert, an old railway now converted to a footpath to Ste Columbe sur L'Hers . Next day we walk to Puivert where we join the Sentier des Cathares walking to Espezel, Comus, Monsegur and Roquefixade. The last stage of our walk will take us back to Lavelanet. Some nights we are camping, others staying in gites d'etape (bit like a youth hostel). We've tried to plan quite carefully as some places are miles from the nearest shop or restaurant. We need to make sure that we can get the ingredients for each meal.(and not have to carry too much).

The map shows an aproximate route, and isn't actually that far at about 75 milesbut I think there are some wiggles missing. I hope to use the garmin I use for running to get an accurate trace of each days stage

The elevation profile shows why daily distances are relatively short. According to Mapmywalk there is one HC climb (the hardest) and 1 Cat 1, 2 cat 2, 1 cat 3, 3 cat 4 and 5 cat 5 climbs on the route but as I put the route in fairly roughly it might be very inaccurate, we shall see.