High Spirits

Day 18 – Tuesday, August 13 – Bonne to Doucy les Ronzes Habere Poche – 30 km

The pillows were amazing but I don’t understand this French thing for hotels to not have any top sheets. If you stay at a chambre d’hôtes, they have top sheets. I don’t get it. I shook the duvet cover so it kind of pushed the heavy part to the side so I kind of just had a sheet, but it didn’t really work. I got way too hot during the night and just didn’t sleep well. And yesterday was rough. I did really well during the walk, but I rushed on the downhills and I even jogged a bit on the roads. My feet and knees didn’t like that at all. I just had a harder time getting going this morning. I also thought today would only be like 20k, so starting later wouldn’t be much of a problem. 

My real problem is that I have no guide for this part, and I’m really just guessing at distances and times. Luckily everything has worked out so far. Once I get on the GR 5 I will have a guide again, so hopefully the distances will be semi accurate.

I went to the bakery to pick up breakfast and eat it at the hotel instead of eating it on the go. I got a croissant, an apple pastry, and a chocolate muffin. They were all delicious. I also took some prednisone and ibuprofen.

I was finally ready to check out around 8:45. I asked the lady at the desk if she could confirm my reservation for tonight. This place was really a wildcard. The tourism lady in Seyssel helped me book it, but I was not at all confident in her explanations or abilities. They confirmed my reservation, but they said they wouldn’t feed me. I was going to go to the grocery store, but then I realized I should just go back to the bakery. I was on my way at 9 am. One of my latest starts.

It was partly cloudy and about 60 degrees with a nice breeze. Really perfect for walking. I walked up for two hours and 1000m. Something I keep forgetting to consider is how much slower it is when you’re not walking flat. It was a pretty steep ascent and I averaged 2.8 km/h. The first half was walking up through housing, sometimes on roads sometimes on grass. Once I got into the woods on the mountain, I felt like I made better time. Maybe switchbacks are gentler.

I did work up a pretty good sweat climbing, and at the top there was cool breeze. I have no idea how much colder it was up there, but I’m sure it was in the 50s. I thought a couple times about putting on my jacket, and if I didn’t have a pack I would have. But with a pack it was really the perfect temperature. 

Something kind of funny. My bladder has a tube that sticks out of the pack that I drink from. Normally, the water in the bag is cold, and gets heated by the sun. When I drink it’s warm at first, but then gets cold. The water in the hotel didn’t get very cold, so with the cooler weather, it was actually the opposite. The water in the tube would get cold and then I would get the warmer water from the bag. So I would just sip enough that it was cold every time, and it didn’t take long to cool down.

The first mountain I was on was called la pralere. There was a madonna up there. I also ran into some day hikers. This was a very popular mountain for trail runners. I saw quite a few runners and day hikers, but no thru hikers.

The next mountain was Les Voirons, and this one was very popular, and I can see why. At the top there’s a narrow enough spine that you can see both valleys on either side.

There was a bit of descent to a chapel. I wrote in the book inside. Then I started my descent. I could tell immediately this part of the mountain was less popular, and I didn’t see any more people. The path wasn’t as nice and was a bit rough and muddy in places.

The signs said I would make it to Col de Saxel around 2. I had been thinking I would get to the hotel thing around 3 or 4. I descended to Col de Saxel, which has a few little towns, then started ascending up the next mountain. The signs said it was another 3.5 hours. So yes, once again, I underestimated time and distance. 

I didn’t care, though. Yesterday was rough, but today was just really nice. It was a beautiful day and I was in really good spirits. I’m sure part of that is because I have my rest day around the corner. I think the rest day is more important mentally, but physically it will be nice, too. 

I was just in a really good mood today. It’s amazing that I’m here, and I’m doing this, and I’m actually doing ok. I’m pretty shocked. I mean, I am in pain, but my body is holding up very well. At home, for the two months before I left, I went to the chiropractor every 5-7 days. I was just walking the neighborhood 4.5-6 miles a day, with no pack, and something was always going wrong. I’m constantly having problems with my upper back and sacrum. And I don’t want to jinx myself, but structurally, I’m doing fine. Maybe the weight of the pack helps somehow? I just know it’s a miracle and I’m being very blessed. Very blessed. Very grateful. 

I think, so far, one of the lessons is that everything is going to be ok. With all of my chronic health problems, I was really worried about life without mom and dad. I literally couldn’t do much. Kratom has changed things. But this has been a miracle. I know Heavenly Father is mindful of me and will continue to help me in the future. Things will be ok.

The second ascent was much easier. It was probably not as steep, so I didn’t have to stop as much. But it also wasn’t nearly as long. This other mountain was more of a mess. I could tell it was popular with dirt bikes, and I even saw one. But every few meters the road was deep trenches with mud and water. I had to pick my way carefully and it’s amazing how much. That slowed me down. Amazingly I didn’t slip or get my shoes super muddy or wet. 

I started to see the valley were I was going. I had to walk along the main road for a while and there was pretty much no shoulder. I got to the group of buildings I really hoped I was going to, but there was no 1823, but there was an 1883 that said, “Chambres” on the door, so I was pretty sure that was it. I knocked and it was the place! I should have had the lady verify the address this morning. I’m not surprised the other girl didn’t write it down correctly. 

It was about 5:30. The room is nice. I think this place normally rents to skiers. 

They don’t speak any English but I understand the basics well enough. He asked where I had walked through, and I said, “mountains,” and he said, “oh, Voirons? You saw Mount Blanc?” No! I don’t know? Apparently I could have seen it, but idk if I did. I don’t know what I’m looking for. I just told him I don’t know.

I asked for breakfast at 7 but now I’m regretting that. Maybe it will be ok. 

I spoke too soon about the top sheet, there’s no top sheet here lol. It is colder, here, though, so maybe I’ll be ok?

Dinner was actually really good. I got an Italian sandwich, a quinoa salad, and a raspberry tart that survived extremely well!  I think the quinoa salad had curry in it, and pumpkin seeds, and raisins (but French raisins so they were good and not too sweet) and apple bits, and the quinoa wasn’t cooked too much and watery. I think maybe I’ve been making it wrong. 

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

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