Day 23 – Monday, August 19 – Refuge de Chésery to Auberge de Salvagny – 30 km
Last night was almost a disaster. The guy I was sleeping next to had tremors. I don’t know if it was Parkinson’s or Tourette’s, or something else, but the ticks happened also while he was sleeping. It was one big bunk bed, with 6 on top on and bottom. The mattresses were individual, and they were surprisingly comfortable. But when the guy got into his bed, and he moved, it felt like he was on mine. I think maybe it had something to do with the platform. I don’t know. He was also a bigger guy, so I could feel my bed leaning toward his. So every time he had a tick, I could feel it.
I laid awake until 11:30, when the thunderstorm started. I got up to go to the bathroom and I took some Tylenol pm and a melatonin. After a little while longer of trying to sleep, I knew it was completely hopeless and I had to move. Luckily the bed on the other side of me was empty, so I just moved over. It made a HUGE difference. I couldn’t feel his movements and I couldn’t hear him snoring as much. There were a few random snorers, but no one snored the whole night. I think I was able to get at least 4 hours of sleep, which was a miracle. I am so glad I moved.
The thunderstorm was real. I hope I don’t have to get caught in one with that heavy, heavy rain. Rain is forecast for the entire week, so we’ll see.
Breakfast was at 7, so everyone was getting up by 6:50. It was raining, but not super hard. I am glad I had the foresight to fill my water bladder the night before. The potable water is outside on a tap. The water in the bathroom is not potable, and I saw several people brushing their teeth with it.
I hadn’t plugged in my phone the night before, so I was trying to charge it as much as I could before leaving. I got it up to 80% and decided that was probably good. I couldn’t check in till 5 again, so I didn’t want to leave early, but I also didn’t really know how long it would take. The stage in the book said 6:45 to Samoëns, but I was going to the next town, which turned out to be another 5.5k. The day was longer than I thought it was going to be. You’d think by this time I would be better at figuring these things out.
I geared up and started out into the rain. It wasn’t a very hard rain, but there was also a lot of wind, so it was stinging, and cold.
I walked around the lake, then it was a little climb up before going down. The wind at the top of the Col was so strong. Very strong winds and stinging rain, but then it stopped right after.
The view in the next valley was incredible. The main mountains here are the dents du midi, and this is Switzerland! They dominated the view for most of the morning.
I don’t have a close up map in my app because it’s only for France. Luckily the path was really easy to follow for the few hours I was in Switzerland. It was a gravel road that wound around the mountain side.
The rain stopped and the sun peaked through a few times.
It took several hours to make it to the point where we started going up to the Col de Cou.
Surprisingly, I got passed by a Land Rover. That part wasn’t surprising; it would have been more surprising if I had passed the Land Rover. But the fact that there was a car going up at all. Obviously it’s a road, and cars must use it, but it’s the first time I actually saw it. And the Land Rover was going very, very slowly and carefully. They are very steep roads with sharp turns.
The Land Rover stalled, or ran out of gas, or something, and I actually passed it! They did get it moving again, but we had all made it to the top before it did.
At the top of the Col was a herd of goats and a bunch of other people who had climbed up from the other side. The goats kept trying to eat things dangling off my person. The straps on my hiking poles, the belt strap on my pack, and something on my skirt. They were probably looking for salt.
It had gotten hot on the climb up the Col, so I took off my jacket and rain gear, but then I put my jacket back on at the top. It was very cold.
One of the Scottish guys offered to take some pictures for me.
Then I started down the other side. It’s always so exciting. What view is going to be available at the next Col?
It was a long hike down through some pine trees and up the other side. It started raining again, so I had to stop and put my rain gear on. I also took advantage of a potty break. Some days I don’t need to pee much, and some days I feel like I have to go every hour. Today was one of those days.
I walked for a while with one of the French guys, but I’m a little slower on the downhills than he is, so when I stopped to put my gear on he went to catch up with his friend.
Luckily, all of the times it rained today wasn’t very hard and wasn’t very long. I was able to dry out after each rain. The worst is when it’s steady and all day long. Hopefully that doesn’t happen much in the Alps?
Today was actually a really nice day over all. The ascents and descents were pretty gentle for the most part.
Around 1:30 my tummy started rumbling, so I decided to eat the picnic lunch I had gotten from the refuge. For 6 euros I got a sandwich, an apple, and a granola bar. I decided to eat while I walked, uphill, which may not have been smart. I am grateful for a functioning epiglottis.
I finished my sandwich right as I crested the Col de Golese. There’s a refuge here that most people were going to stay in. It was only a 15k walk from Col du Chésery. I didn’t know it as the time, but I had another 15k to go.
I knew from here it was going to be a lot of downhill, but it was actually really gentle and quite pleasant, as far as long downhills go.
I started having troubles with my left knee today. Really sharp pains sometimes when I’m walking flat. I don’t know what that’s about. But overall, I think my knees are still doing ok.
The second half of the day was pretty uneventful and not nearly as beautiful as the first part. I couldn’t see much after. I got into the trees, and there were a lot of low clouds which obscured the mountains.
As I got into Samoëns, which looks like an expensive place to live, it started to rain again, but it only lasted a few minutes.
It seemed like it was going to be a most flat walk for the 5k between Samoëns and Salvagny. UNTIL, I came to this really stupid obstacle course. The GR 5 runs you through a park that has boulders and slot canyons and you have to climb very muddy steep stairs that are mostly ladders. My skirt got really, really muddy along the bottom. Then it took forever to climb down the other side, also wet, muddy, and steep. I was really irritated by the whole thing. I would see another ladder and say, “What?? Really??” I mean, we’re climbing mountains, why do we need an obstacle course?
I finally made it to the Gîte at 5:45, 9 hours after starting.
I am staying here for two nights. I have to take another rest day. The only two choices for tomorrow were both full, so I had to wait. I am in a “dorm” room of two beds, but so far it’s just me. Hopefully it is just me tomorrow as well.
At dinner I was seated with a man who is also by himself. He speaks no English, but I managed to do well enough that we were able to have a nice dinner. He said he is also staying here two nights because the refuge is full. I said, Me too! It was amusing. Maybe we will have dinner again tomorrow.
His name is Bernard, and he is Swiss. He is walking the GR 5 all the way to the coast, but he doesn’t know how long it will take. He is walking to Chamonix, and then he is taking a train back to his home in Martingy, and then he is joining a 40k race from Martingy back to Chamonix, and then he continues. I’m impressed.
Dinner was delicious! The starter was a carrot salad. It must be a thing in this area. Dessert was chocolate pudding, so that must be a thing, too. The main course was pork cutlets in a mushroom sauce with potatoes. Bernard asked If I wanted seconds, and he told the people I wanted more. I didn’t really need seconds, but I also wasn’t going to say no. It was delicious.
When I was little, my brother went to school in Zug, Switzerland. We came to visit him one time and I remember (I was probably about 4) the soft beds with down comforters, delicious chocolate and a meal that included some type of bread covered in a mushroom gravy. I remember I had that quite a few times because it was so delicious. When we got back to the US my mother would heat up Campbell’s soup over white bread toast. Not the same but it brought back some great memories of our trip. Seeing your food I was again reminded. I think mushroom gravy over something must be a Swiss thing too. Stay safe.
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Now that I’m home I can look at your pictures on my big screen! They are just stunning. I hope you feel better quickly! We’re praying for you!
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