Sign of the Times?

29th August 2018

Forêt du Junda, south of Montalivet Les Bains, Aquitaine, France

The sun got us in the end at Le Temple! As is rolled inexorably into the west and the afternoon wore on the available shade just couldn’t give us any cover - and it sure was a HOT sun, yesterday.

We tried just sweating it out for a time but eventually it became just too much and so we made a short move into a forest glade with deep shade which although less aesthetically appealing as a location was certainly a very much cooler one. It was also a less contentious place to pull over onto so a double win really.

Come the late evening the skies darkened and the humidity rose to levels I have never known anywhere outside the tropics. Sitting stock still and dressed only in shorts the sweat was literally pouring off me and Amy’s panting was reminiscent of an old traction engine at work.

Then a strong wind gathered momentum and the Jeep filled up with ‘wishbones’ of large brown pine needles, blown out of the treetops and in through the open sunshine roof, soon followed by a few large, gloopy, sporadic raindrops.

Then the wind really got going and the raindrops joined up as a full-blown electrical storm danced in the evening heavens all about us. I had to close all the doors and windows of the Jeep which was a real trial as the humidity was still hellish.

Amy was really good, not exactly happy at huge claps of thunder directly overhead and momentary ‘daylight’ illuminations of the forest as the lightening flashed and flared all about us but nowhere near as distressed as she was at the recent firework debacle. Perhaps she can sense last night’s mighty electrical storm was a purely natural phenomena beyond anyone’s control and that fireworks are just an unnecessary man-made folly?

Thunderclaps were the only bangs we experienced last night and it was a bang free dawn - so no ‘chasse’ to worry about! The forest also had an absence of ‘Chasse’ signs too so perhaps, once again, a no shooting zone of some description?

A good two hour walk for Amy round innumerable forest drives in the clean post storm morning air - all trace of last night’s humidity completely gone and although the temp was still nearly 20 degrees at dawn it somehow felt much cooler.

From Le Temple a short drive to Lacanau for food and a couple of gas canisters for my trusty MSR ‘backpacker's burner’ - tiny, very light and awesome performance. A bit pricey compared to other alternatives but well the extra money IMO.

More or less due north out of Lacanau for about half an hour’s drive on quiet straight roads at a very moderate speed until we turned east a few km south of Montalivet les Bains into the Foret du Junda - an area I have wild camped in before.

Nevertheless, I was a bit apprehensive as we neared my intended destination in case I was in for a big disappointment. I have only ever been hereabouts very early, very late or out of season and have, accordingly, pretty much had the run of the place.

It’s still August, it must be remembered - only just, granted, but France is still very much on les vacance and possibly will remain so right until the end of next week? I am not entirely sure when French kids go back to school but my assumption is early September.

So, I wasn’t expecting total isolation in the Foret du Juna but I had hoped it would still be a good spot to park up for a few days and take stock - and so far I’m not disappointed!

Yes, there are a few people about but they are all on bikes - this is, after all, a huge ‘family’ cycling area with cycle paths criss-crossing the entire region. Where we are is not an actual cycle path but the track does eventually lead to Carcans Plage so attracts an occasional clutch of cyclists. The cyclist I have seen so far have all been leisurely families or older couples and very much not the men in tights type - its defo the kind of cycling I applaud and wish I could join in as it really is the most perfect place to enjoy it.

Last year, I did fantasise about a solar charged e-cargo bike of some description until I saw how much they cost and decided I would have to stick with the Jeep or walk until I could find a way to get ahead a little financially. No luck so far, needless to say!

Anyway, I think we should be alright here for a time. I am playing safe with my choice of location at the moment but will explore about a bit on foot over the next few days and see what might be possible to achieve. Our current exact location is:

Google Maps
Latitude : 45.31463 (45° 18′ 52.68″ N)
Longitude : -1.15111 (1° 9′ 4″ W)
accuracy of signal : 7 m

Previously, I have parked up a little closer to the ocean but many new ‘Circulation Interdite’ signs have gone up since I was last here so need to be circumspect. Circulation Interdite means ‘no vehicular access’ and invariably is accompanied by a further sign that says ‘except for land owners and workers’. It seems to be the sign of 2018 as I don’t recall seeing it all at the very beginning of this year and now it appears quite literally everywhere in the sorts of places I favour.

On the one hand I very much approve as I think it’s being done for all the right reasons but on the other it saddens me that we need such signs at all.

Rising eight billion of us, together with rising affluence sure does put a lot a environmental pressure on poor old Planet Earth!

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