Alps log: day 8
Light day. Valley walk.
Stage 8: Arolla – Les heuderies – La Sage
Time: 4 hrs
The walk is an easy one, almost entirely downvalley. Viewpoint at Lac du Bleu, which is surrounded by cowpies. Couldn’t find a tiny hamlet mentioned in the book where I can find fresh milk and cheese, but I did find the buildings where all the cows let go. Pleasant countryside smells.
So far, travelling alone has not been an issue. Perhaps it’s the nature of the trip, a quiet hike, that suits being solo. Were this a typical euro city-pillage, the crowds of people would surely make me lonely. While cafès are places for mixing, there’s nothing askew about eating a sandwich alone at a mountain paas. Or perhaps it’s just my introverted nature. I’m not the easiest person to travel with, as evinced by the pile of discarded travelmates. Though neither demanding nor particular, I often need a quiet recharge. and travelmates generally feel all seasons of my mood. And so forth.
Selfish Crab Language program Course 2 syllabus is out: learning how to say “um” and “er” in the native tongue and accent.
During my early afternoons and nights, I have been reading Revolutionary Road. So far so good. Is anyone surprised that Frank Wheeler, whose characterization so far is an adrift graduate with potential in hand and no place to spend it, is a Columbia College graduate? Shocking, what with all that mobility. I was waiting for his friend, the engineering-alum-turned-consultant, to enter the frame. The writing also so far is great, light-handed. We’ll see if the book’s intregrity survives this upcoming scene with John the “mentally insane” neighbor. Sounds like a thin device for some straight talk by the author.
Now halfway through this trip. I was secretly hoping for some color of inspiration to befall me, some glimpse at the whole of love and happiness. None as yet. I also find myself consumed by the idea of marriage. Being of that age and of that mind wherein like beings are prone to, well, wed, I, on occassion, share the sickly urge to join hands and hearts and sing under the tree of matrimony. These last years, I bore witness to a wave of weddings, of dear friends, where the brilliance of love dazzled the eyes and raked the jealous heart, where that love witnessed was so potent that whole poems could be penned with a single dip of the quill in its store, or simply, where that love promised a future. Weaker witnesses may resort to the tearing of hair, and, of course, snarling. But I remain vigilant toward that easy bear trap. What buoys my unjoined heart is the sight of a foolish and rushed union. I’ll take my time, thanks. My sometime hope is that my would-be wife would be my muse, my target of salutations, my sparring partner, my finisher of scotches, my editor, on even days; I, hers, on odd days; and on Sundays, grocery shopping.
In Les Haudères, old dark timber houses form rows of pastoral charm. I bump into Bald Canadian, he had gone and smashed his knee. Looking for ibuprofen. All I have is tylenol, which I forget is not the same thing when it comes to swollen bloody knees.
Lunch: bananas, salami, bread, dark chocolat. Meet a German kid, sitting on the bench. He’s hiking the Haute route in the opposite direction. Funny, we’re meeting nearly exactly halfway through the trek, at the halfway point, halfway thru the day. We swap tips going both ways. He remarks this route is popular among Anglo-Saxons. Comin from a German, for some reason, this phrasing tickles me.
La Sage is yet another small hamlet. I’m lodged in the dortoir above Cafe-Restaurant L’Ecureuil. Dinner: vegetable soup, pork loin with mustard and beets, flan. I eat with Mike, the tasmanian retireè. He’s 68 and hiking this thing alone. Used to be a geophysicist, has three adult children scattered all over, wife died when children were young. I try to get life advice from him, but he doesn’t take the bait.
Nightcap at bald canadian’s nice Hotel du la sage. pendànt and cheese. I don’t see him again.