Alps log: day 2
Pleasant night’s sleep. The inhabitants of the tent across from me strike up conversation. Paul and Kate are Brits, and in line with my travel quirks, I ape their mannerisms and slang. I tell them that I’m simply “shattered”, and that my french is “shite”. They ignore this oddity and give me a bit of a pep talk, saying that my legs will find their rhythm after a few days. My spirits are bolstered. They are also hiking the haute route, but today are taking the variant through refuge de les grand. I may see them in Champex in two days.
Eager to shed weight, I stop by the post office. And it’s closed. For a french feast holiday. Shit. Well, if I can reach Trient before 17:00, maybe I can mail it from the Swiss side.
Today’s plan is to hike from argentiere to trient, crossing the Swiss/French border on the Col de Balme. 1
Stage 2: argentiere – col de balme – trient
Elevation gain: 953m
Key ironic guidebook quote: “…a convenient and relatively undemanding stage…” -Kev Reynolds
The key ascent from Le Tour to the Col de Balme is a path that falls under a chair lift that can take tourists and hikers up to the Col. I scoff at the thought of cheating. This will look quaint in about 24 hours, but hey look, now i’ve gone and foreshadowed. It is a tough ascent for me, lacking in beauty or viewpoint. TMB hikers headed in the opposite direction are treating to views of the snowy monster Mont Blanc all the way down.
With each step, I am itemizing which items to mail home. Water filter, hostel padlock (!!), reading books. Maybe I could send home my stove, pots, and fuel, and just eat in cafès and refuges. Maybe I should send home my tent and sleeping bag, and live in the dormoirs and refuges (at about $50/night). How much to compromise? What defeats the spirit of the trip? Or pricks my pride beyond tolerance?
I reach Col de Balme and I am deliriously happy. The view is smashing. Great descent too. I opt for the variant through Les Treppes which adds only 25 minutes. I find my way to Trient, but my legs are starting to buckle. If I can barely handle 5 1/2 hours, how am I doing to 7hours on day 6?? Operation Shed Weight is going to happen. I’m on vacation dammit. I should be enjoying this. I ask for the poste office. It’s closed! They celebrate the same damn holiday. Tomorrow? Tomorrow is Sunday, and everything closes in Switzerland. …
At the “campsite” near the Refuge du Le Peuty (CHF 4), I met two French couples and another Brit, Kevin, all finishing up the TMB. If there’s one thing I loathe more than loving couples in the city, it’s lovebirds on the trail. Yes, we can see how you love each other, and support each other, and lick each other’s wounds in sympathy. Yeah, we all know you’re going back to the same tent after this, why don’t you hang a flag for it outside your flap.
The Brit and I grab spaghetti bolognese from the cafe in Trient, across from the church. He also buys me a beer which I’m not sure was wise to accept in my state.
- col – fr. mountain pass [↩]