2017 E5 walk, day 55: Boncourt to Tacoignières

Section 13, Day 55
low 54 °F
high 82 °F
47,280 steps
18.0 miles

I have very little recollection of the first part of this day. I left the gîte and followed the trail vaguely east, through the village of Rouvres.

A green field stretches to the northeast horizon, soft with tall grass or not-yet-seeding wheat.  A single utility pole stands at the right side of the photo, with lines running across to the left; the sky is blue.
A soft-looking field outside Rouvres.

The trail very roughly followed the course of the Vesgre, then east to Berchères-sur-Vesgre, where I stopped in the cute village square at a Banette chain bou­lan­ge­rie for a sandwich and croissants. From there, I went south and east to Saint-Lubin-de-la-Haye, and then away from the Vesgre and east to the town of Richebourg.

A stone wall, barely higher than the viewpoint, runs from the right of the photo to the middle distance in the west.  A leafy branch, heavy with red cherries, leans on the top of the wall and hangs down into the center of the photo; more cherries are visible behind and above.  A fence interwoven with plants parallels the wall on the other side, forming a narrow, grassy trail.  A single cloud can be seen beyond the cherry tree.
Cherries over a wall in Richebourg.

In Richebourg, my map led me to an apparent highway crossing that had been recently removed, so I had to backtrack a little to a still-viable crossing. From there, the trail passed through some fields towards the town of Tacoignières, my destination for the evening.

I’d tried to contact the gîte, a stable with accommodations that I imagine were primarily for summer riding camps, but that offered individual beds during the week. I’d never heard back, but since I’d usually had some sort of luck doing this type of thing, I showed up and asked for a room. It turned out that the rooms weren’t yet open for the season, and they weren’t ready for any guests, and (unlike some places earlier in the walk) weren’t able to make an exception. That was fine … but it kind of left me at loose ends. I already had an AirBnB room reserved for the following night, and I wasn’t willing to cancel it, or try to reschedule for this night and then hoof it there before dark.

So, I decided to bite the bullet and finally try camping sauvage, “wild camping”. From talking to people over the past weeks, I’d finally come to the conclusion that it was legal, on non-private property, as long as you weren’t blocking the trail, you set up no more than an hour before sunset, and you were gone by an hour after sunrise.

Camping alongside somebody’s field didn’t feel like a good idea, and the only trees in the next couple hours were the Bois de Prunay (“Prunay Woods”), perhaps a 20–30 minute walk away. So, I followed the trail into the woods, and (with plenty of time before sundown) scouted for a good place to set up my tent; I ended up settling just inside the woods, on the western edge. I sat down to read and eat dinner while I waited for sunset, at which point I set up my tent for the night.

A dirt track, packed by vehicle traffic, runs through trees from the near left of the photo to the right side.  A tangle of trees lets light through, suggesting it is the edge of a woods; weeds and grass line the track.  In the middle of the track, to the south-southeast, a large hare sits alert — if it weren’t in front of a patch of grass, its coloring (brown with black on the hind feet and ears) would camouflage it effectively.  To the near side of the track, a wire fence runs along part of its length, with a white-over-read GR blaze on the nearest post.
This hare passed by as evening fell.
A packed dirt track runs from the bottom of the photo to the upper left.  In the foreground on the other side of the track is a small tent, red underneath with a pale rainfly covering it; a pair of trekking poles is folded up next to it.  It is pitched among dead leaves; they cover the sides of the trail for a short distance, until being replaced by grass.  Trees fill the rest of the view; we are clearly in a woods.
Here’s my tent by the side of the trail.

I didn’t sleep very well. Aside from general restlessness, at some point in the night (or perhaps several points), I heard an animal crunching through the underbrush, at a distance. I spent some time trying to figure out what it was (it was smaller than an bear but larger than a mouse), so I decided it obviously must have been a fox.

Map of the day’s route.