Okay, steel might be too optimistic but I think brass might be achievable!
The valley of Chamonix was swamped in clouds when we woke for the first day of our Chamonix to Zermatt hike (the Walkers Haute Route). Karyn gave me the good news there was 20% chance of rain up until 9am and no chance for the rest of the day. I did happen to mention again “it doesn’t rain when I hike”.
I spent an hour getting the contents of my pack sorted. I was relieved when it all fit and felt like I’d kept it to around10kg with a litre in the water bladder.
First stop the boulangerie for some baguette for lunch and then we were on our way. It was clear we were going to have to get into the head of the author of our hike notes if we didn’t want to get lost on the mountains – Karyn was doing a sterling job as our navigator having done a similar hike around Mont Blanc.
Our journey took us up some small rises in the woods and through delightful little hamlets before passing pastures with grazing cattle wearing their lovely sounding bells.
We had a couple who were clearly trail runners join us on the path; needless to say they passed us even when they were walking!
It was rather neat passing under the cable cars and having Mont Blanc in clear view from our rear.
We happened on a serene little playground, which made a perfect spot for our first hike lunch. We figured the lovely little lagoons fed by the crystal clear creek would be brimming with kids in the summer.
Not long after lunch we wandered into our first night’s town – Argentiere. It was full of charm and we were pleased to have arrived in three and a half hours (a little less than the notes’ estimated time). Today we’d only ascended about 200m and descended 100m – a big contrast to tomorrow when we’d ascend around 1 100m and descend almost the same.
In the end we had been blessed with a lovely warm sunny day and to celebrate enjoyed a Belgium beer on the hotel terrace while admiring the mountains that we would confront tomorrow.
Karyn informed me the phone app was indicating 80% chance of rain tomorrow and 70% chance on Monday. I was tempted but didn’t mention “it doesn’t rain when I hike”.
The only annoying thing from the day was that in my haste of packing I’d manage to pack my condensed toiletries bag into the bag meeting us at the end of the hike…entree well equipped shops! Although, I really wasn’t happy paying EU 9,50 (AUD$15) for my deodorant!
We finished the day with pancakes in the small village. Karyn turned in early and I tried my best to not wake her with my laughter from reading Jim and Don’s blog from their Camino de Santiago de Compostela – thanks for sharing your great story – I wonder if I’ll encounter the American female or Australian male in the huts in the days ahead?
Tomorrow we start with this quote firmly in our minds “Mental fitness is as important as the physical and the two often go hand in hand. If you gaze with dread at the amount of height to be gained in order to cross a pass, no doubt you will suffer in consequence. Let every day be greeted with eagerness. Find joy in the steep uphill as well as the downward slope. Draw strength from the beauty of the scenes around you. Enjoy the movement of clouds, the wind and wilderness as much as the gleam of sunshine; the raw crags and screes of desolation as well as the lush flower-strewn pastures and distant snowscapes. Each is an integral part of the mountain world; a world of magic and mystery. It’s a world through which it is a privilege to move in freedom. Don’t take a moment of this experience for granted.