Monday, July 07, 2008

Day 14: Refuge de la Croix-Bonhomme

A DAY OF RAIN, our first. Oh well. We left a nice cheap hotel in Les Contamines aty about 8 am, walking a delightful road along the bonnant river which had done considerable damage the day before yesterday (all this written some days ago). It was misty but we were drey, walking under trees. In good time we reached the baroque Chapel of Notre-Dame de la Gorge where a number of miracles have apparently been done.

Then we were on a Roman road. XCould this be the Via Alpina? It was steep, for the gorge really strts here, and is well paved with stone, much of it native and undisturbed; and it features a Roman bridge with a fine arch over an amazingly deep and vicious gorge.

The road was a bit of a scramble, and though we were still under foliage th emist was getting heavy. In another 45 minutes we came to a chalet, though, a house featureing a sort of cafe in what might have been its salon or living room, and here a handsome fellow fluent in Italian as well as Frency served us a fine pot of tea, and we lingered over it for a half-hyour.

Oustide it had begun to rain seriously. I'd already put my backpack raincover on: now I drewe on my rain-pants, and we slogged on up the Roman road, finally into quite exposed alpage pastures, to the refute at la Balme, where we had another pot of tea and delicious little tartelettes a myrtille.

From there, though, the walking grew difficult. We were still ascending, across fields braide with freshets, losing our way at one point, finally scrampbling up to a small hut where we cowered with a couple of Brits and a couple of Australians for half an hour.

Chocolate was passed around, desuotorey conversation attempted, and then out again into the rain, walking a traverse now most of the time thakfully instead of climbing, to the true col and, after an hour, our Refuge.

It's big and full. wwe sti at a long table and nurse mulled wine and look out at the mountains which come and go under their mists. DInner will be served in a few minutes, at seven, so I soon stop.

This was our 11th day of walking, and we may have hit our stride: we seem to be keeping up with the guidebook timetable. Today we walked 22 kilometers, just short of 15 miles. We climbed 1280 meters . In the walk to date we have gained and dropped about 14,000 meters, which is to say about 44,000 feet -- it hardly seems possible. We are presently at 8100 feet. And a little tired, but not much, and we feel great.

That written a couple of days ago. Yesterday we climbed 5762 feet, from Landry to the Refuge Pas de Palet, in nine hours walking. Today we're in Val d#Isere; tomorrow Bonneval sur l'Arc: I'll try to post from there.

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