|View from the cathedral|
I went in, paid 15 € for the night and was told that there were five other German pilgrims. I did not think much of it, because after having seen the empty dormitory I would surely find a quiet place to sleep. Wrong! The dormitory doors were all locked and in order to save cleaning the owner had put me as a 6th person with a group of give in a 6 bed dorm. There was no way I could get out of this. All other dorms were locked and there wasn't even a lounge to crash. I don't mind female dorms in youth hostels as girls don't snore so often but five old pilgrims is another story. Luckily I had paid only for one night and I was determined to find a better accommodation for the next two nights. As it was still early I left my backpack on the only available upper berth and went into town to start doing my town chores and passed the tourist office. I might as well enquire about accommodation for tomorrow and went in.
|Le Puy Cathedral|
Unfortunately, next day Saturday was anything but restful but a big shopping day. Although I had started this trip with what I thought was true and trusted gear I have already had a lot of gear problems that I would try to fix now. In order to help others to avoid the same problems I want to get into more details here:
GPS: The Garmin Etrex still has hiccups displaying tracks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. As I don't know whether a firmware update from my 3.0 version will fix the problem I won't go through the trouble of finding a data cable and a PC to flash the GPS. As the problem occurs only after switching on the device I leave it running the whole day. And if the problem occurs in the morning when I switch it on or want to display a new track I know that resetting the system and rebooting it will eventually lead to a correct display - although it sometimes takes several nerve wrecking attempts.
|View from my hostel|
Backpack: I know that the GG G4 is not the most robust backpack and the sewing has to be redone in stress areas. But on this trip the pack started ripping on day 2 and I am afraid whether it will make it to the end. I therefore wanted to buy more repair tape. I stick it onto the pack and then sew it on. But again big disappointment: it could not get repair tape at Decathlon or any other shop.
Trekking pole tips: Another new problem. Although the tips have not sunk into the plastic casing yet, one of the tips has become quite rounded and has therefore lost its grip on pavement or slick rocks. Not a real big problem, just a minor nuisance which could easily be fixed by replacing the tip - if I could find one. Decathlon only sells their generic brand trekking poles and no spare tips whatsoever. There is no outdoor shop in town. Bad luck...
Platypus bottle: Again bad luck here. I have lost my second Platypus and wanted to replace it but no Platypus or any other collapsible bottle was available. I hope the one bottle I have will hold up for another 1,5 months. Then I will have another Platypus and all the other missing stuff have shipped from Germany with my next shoe resupply.
Petzl headlamp: The plastic cover has partially broke and although the lamp is still working it is not waterproof any more. Also the batteries die much faster than normal which has already resulted in a pitchblack night once. Petzl lamps have an indicator showing you how much battery power is left. When on red normally there is still several hours of weak light left but now it just dies within minutes. With less and less daylight every day the headlamp is an essential piece of gear for me and I can't risk a failure. I therefore shelled out 45 € and bought a new Petzl Tikka XP 2.
Canister cosy: With sinking temperatures my gas canister stove becomes weaker and weaker. The solution is a canister cosy but I had to find some insulation material. After looking out for packaging trash at several stores I finally found some bubble wrap at a camera store. But Decathlon had something better. For 2,95 € I found a cheap foam pad that I can cut into fitting pieces.
Bottom line: I have had an unexpected high amount of gear problems and unfortunately France is not a good country to fix them. I have not found any decent outdoor shop on this or my last trip through France. There is only Decathlon which is admittedly cheap but has mostly crap. I have to rely on makeshift repairs and have to have replacements shipped from Germany.