Short First Day on the GR 5

Day 20 – Friday, August 16 – Armoy to Chevenoz – 18k

It was hard to make myself wait to get going. I couldn’t bring myself to pay 11 E for breakfast at the hotel, so I went to the bakery next door. They had some new things I hadn’t seen! Raspberry and Nutella croissants, so I had to try one of each, and a pain au chocolat, of course.

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I had to check out by 11, but I was planning on leaving before. Turns out I should have waited as long as possible. I do have a guide book for this part, kind of. I took pictures of the relevant pages before I left. The book was too heavy to bring, and I didn’t want to rip pages out. In the book, it was a 7 hour, 25k day from Thonon les Bains to Chevenoz. I knew I had less distance because I was starting Armoy, but I wasn’t sure how much less it was. Speaking of guide books. I said goodbye to my green and yellow guides and they went in the trash. I don’t need extra weight in the Alps!

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There was a little trouble getting my bill right; they had charged me for two breakfasts I didn’t eat. It took a few tries to everything right. I was out the door by 9:40, which is my latest start yet.

Thankfully the first bit was very gradually up hill. I wasn’t sure how I would handle today after having such a long time off, but the gradual helped a lot. I went on the side and around the mountain I came down two days ago. It’s really fun to watch the gradual change of the landscape. I can look back and see where I’ve been from from a different perspective.

I realized that the really sharp, pointy peak I’ve been seeing is the Dent d’Oche. Dent means tooth, and it totally looks like a tooth. There is a refuge up near the top of that thing. I almost booked it when I was trying to figure my route, instead of the place I’m staying tonight. I went through all of the steps for registering for a night, and right before hitting accept, it said, “by the way, there are no showers or running water at the refuge.” Uhhhhhhh. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that! They have bottled water you can buy so you can refill your supply, but I didn’t like the idea of no shower, and having to sleep in my sleep sheet sac, because I had no idea when I’d be able to wash that thing. So I was THAT close to doing it, but… hygiene won out. It would certainly be an experience! Part of me regrets it slightly, but I will be doing a lot on this trip. And I imagine the descent is pretty much awful on the knees. You also have to climb and use chains at a few points.

But seeing the Dent d’Oche, I couldn’t imagine how I was going to get past that today in only 6 hours or so. I’ve been so bad at estimating time and distance with no guide, I didn’t really trust the guide I had now. So I was pushing myself a little to make sure I didn’t run out of time.

I got to see inside a lovely church in Reyvroz. 

I had to head down and cross the river before heading back up the other side. It’s just the way things are around here. Multiple mountains to climb!

After the river there were a lot of short switchbacks going up. I thought I had to go higher, but that will come later.

After I got to the top, I looked for a place to pee, and then I checked my map. I’d already come 10k in just under 2.5 hours. It was barely noon. I suddenly realized that Chevenoz is BEFORE the Dent d’Oche, that part is tomorrow. I was already more than halfway to where I was going, and I had 5 hours before I could check in. Uh oh. I really should have stayed at the hotel until 11, and not pushed so hard.

I started walking very slowly. I don’t. Like walking slowly. You’re still on your feet, and it’s actually harder to walk slow. I did take more time to pick raspberries, but unfortunately the berries here aren’t quite ready, so there were only a few ripe ones.

I started looking for a place to take a rest, but there weren’t many good options.

I went through a little town, and I knew I was only about 30 mins away. It was still only barely 1 pm. I saw a grassy, shaded spot, so I put my poncho down. Unfortunately there was absolutely no view. I lay down and closed my eyes, and I did actually drift off a few times.

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The 3 o’clock church bells woke me up. I found a tick on my skirt. Hopefully that was the only one I picked up! I had been thinking about ticks and wondering if I would see any.

I started walking again, slowly, at 3:30. I went and sat by the church and waited more. Unfortunately the church was closed, but this time the view was nice! I’m actually in the Alps. I’m in the French Alps. Tomorrow will be my first real day walking through them. So exciting!

Today has definitely been better. Walking is good. Walking is easy. It was hard that it was a such a short day and I couldn’t check in earlier, but I survived. Tomorrow is also a 5 pm check in (what’s up with that??) but I think tomorrow is going to be much more challenging.

I arrive at the Gîte/hotel at 5 mins to 5! It’s pretty far downhill, almost by the river. Tomorrow is going to be more of a climb. I think this Gîte is not the one referenced in the book. Why doesn’t he give specific names in the book? That is my one complaint as a guide book, All of the other guides are “these are your accommodation options, pick one,” and this book says, “there are lots of options,” or “there is a Gîte here.” I think that’s pretty stupid. 

The good thing about a shorter day is that my feet seem to be doing pretty well. My legs were a bit tight, but I think they’re doing ok, too. My knee hasn’t given me any trouble today. 

There is WiFi, but the signal is very poor.

Dinner was very good. The nice thing about family style dinners is you can eat as much as you want. They said it was a meal classic to the region. Some dried meats and cornichons and potatoes with fondue cheese. The cheese separated and didn’t stay melty long, but it was still very good. I ate with 5 other patrons. There was a family with a little girl. The mom didn’t eat all of her cheese, and the girl said that meant she couldn’t have dessert. That was the one thing I understood the whole dinner lol.

Dessert was a delicious mousse. 

One Comment

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  1. What a gorgeous area!

    Liked by 1 person

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