GR Balcon du Leman

Day 17 – Monday, August 12 – Charly to Bonne – 36 km

I woke up early but I was slow getting started. I really probably should have been more urgent about getting started. I was sure today was going to be 25k-28k, but I really don’t have a way to know for sure since I don’t have a book for this part.

I ate breakfast with Marcus and he headed off about 8. I didn’t really get going until 8:30. I realized later in that day that Marcus is probably the last Compostelle pilgrim that I will meet. Now I’m in a transition, and then I’ll be on the Via Francigena.

It was completely foggy out, and it was raining. I really hoped it wasn’t going to rain all day. 

I think today has to be some of the thickest fog I’ve ever been in. I know that fog is just a cloud on land, but do you still call it fog when you’re up in the mountains and you know you’re really in a cloud? 

Another reason I should have given myself more time is because today is my first real day on the GR Balcon du Leman. It’s my pre-pre warm up for the alps. Previously maybe the most I’ve gained in a day was 800m. This is going to be 1300m+ every day. I might have started doing 4km an hour, but that’s going to be difficult to keep up with that much uphill.

I went up and down for a bit, and then I started going up, and up, and up. I came to a place that was supposed to be a good viewing spot, but all I saw was fog. Now that I’m in the mountains, I’m going to have days like this. Some days will be great for views, and other days will just be fog. Fog is pretty, too.

I got off the road and started climbing the mountain in the forest. It was raining and was a little slippery, but I was glad I was going up instead of down. Down in the rain is dangerous. I got above the fog and had some nice views. It’s crazy that that’s Geneva, and Lake Geneva. I’m almost kind of in Switzerland. 

There was a flash of lightning and some pretty loud thunder. I was basically on top of a mountain. I don’t think I really had any other choice but to keep going.

The rain stopped and I had some lovely views with cows and clouds, and cow bells chiming. It reminded me a lot of when I crossed the Pyrenees. 

Thankfully it didn’t rain for the rest of the day, but I didn’t know that. I fastened my poncho at the neck, but left everything open for airflow, but I could close things up quickly if it started raining again.

When I finally made it to the very top, I started walking through cow fields. Like actually having to walk through cows. I said hello to them all and said how pretty they looked, and thanked them for letting me take their pictures.

Some of them started following me, which was a little disconcerting. I also had my big red poncho billowing out behind me. Do cows naturally not like red, or is it taught for bull flighting? I did not get attacked by any cows.

I got a glimpse of the real alps on the other side, and they are scary jagged peaks. It’s pretty intimidating. But honestly hiking in the alps isn’t a whole lot different from what I’ve been doing. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Altitude will be a factor, so I’m curious about that. When I went straight to Colorado for some hiking a few years ago, the altitude really kicked my butt, and trying to breathe is what really slowed me down. I wanted to start in Le Puy because I would gradually build up to it. So far so good. I’m surprised at how well I’m doing. Seriously. I am definitely being blessed.

The fog started coming in on the Geneva side of the mountain. I had a choice to travel right along the edge of the cliff, or walk across the top. I went across the top since I wouldn’t be able to see anything anyway.  

The fog did start to clear, and by the time I made it to the telephrique station I could see everything. I also passed a jump off pad for parachutes.

It was a little after one, but I still thought I could  make it to the hotel by 4.

I started the very long descent. Very long. I made it to the bottom around 2:30. I saw a sign that said, Bonne 3:30, and I said, “Oh CRAP.” The hotel reception was closing at 6 pm tonight. If it actually took 3:30, that would put me there right at 6. 

I started booking it. I even half jogged a bit on the less steep declines, but after a while my feet really didn’t like that. It was all road walking from here. There was a place where the path had to go around a golf course and a field and double back. I saved at least 15-20 minutes by cutting through the field. I really pushed myself.

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I was really glad I didn’t decide to stop for lunch at the top of the mountain at the little village I passed through.

I finally made it into Bonne right after 5. The guy at the hotel desk was super nice. He didn’t make me feel out of place at all, and he carried my bag up to the room for me. It’s a very nice room! I just wish it had a tub. 

I took a shower immediately. Fluffy robe!

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I went back down to the desk right before 6 to find out about restaurants. He had been looking, but not only is the hotel restaurant closed on Mondays, but ALL of the restaurants in Bonne are closed on Mondays. He said I could take a taxi to Annemasse. Or, there was a bakery next door that had sandwiches and salads. Yes, that’s the better option. After 36k I’d like a real meal, especially since I didn’t have one yesterday, either, but I’d rather be off my feet in bed trying to catch up on the last 4 days of posts!

The bed is luxurious. It makes me not want to leave early. I’m going to have to try to figure out how far I’m really going tomorrow. I think I can’t check in until 4. Tomorrow is a little stressful. Apparently I’m staying at a room in a house that doesn’t really have a name, so I can’t look it up online. It was recommended to the person at the tourism office in Seyssel, when the place I found online was booked. I think I found the address, but I don’t know for certain. French addresses don’t always google well. So I don’t want to be too early, but I don’t want to be late, and I don’t want to be stuck with nowhere to go. We will see!!

I accidentally got a tuna sandwich. I thought it was tomato and mozzarella and something, but it was tomato and egg and tuna. It was still good. And a salad with cooked zucchini. And the most amazing citron tart. Incredible.

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