We were very pleased with our progress on this stage of the hike – although we would have been happier to be off the gravel road.
The realisation eventually hit that we had taken a wrong turn – no up hill routes on the Haute Route are this easy!!! We consulted the notes, the compass and the maps….yep, wrong way. What to do? We both felt committed to the height we had gained so decided to keep moving on in the hope the tracks would cross (even doing a bit of our own off track exploration) eventually conceding it was unlikely so we headed for a house in the distance with the goal of getting our bearings to determine our next step. Of course, when we finally reached it the house was all closed up. Karyn’s best calls of “Bonjour” didn’t lure anyone out of the houses in neighbouring pastures. Back we went to the point we knew was right.
Nothing like taking the good with the bad. We used the downhill and good telephone reception as an opportunity to call our dads for Father’s Day. Great to chat to mum and dad. I also managed to reach Cath, Camille and Greg before Camille was in bed. Lovely to catch up with everyone at home – actually made me a little homesick chatting to Camille – hoping she wasn’t getting too used to me not being home! Once again realising how blessed I am to have the wonderful life I have, surrounded by people I love dearly.
Enough of that heavy stuff….
Okay, back on the right path. A valuable lesson learnt – the notes don’t lie; follow them with precision!
We contemplated going back into La Sage to organise a taxi to take us to where we would have been had we hiked there in the first place but agreed it was risking delaying us further and at the time we still felt we had fresh legs.
The hike from thereon was notable for the butterflies we were encountering – white, pale blue, orange and green wing tipped.
More uphill of course. After passing through Le Tsate we hit a huge grassy field which had a path pretty much going straight up. Why? All this space to traverse the hill! Bloody Swiss were just masochists – way too fit for their own good in my mind!
One thing that is universal is that where there are flies there are cows; in this case dairy cows! Passed the dairy sheds and of course then it was up, up, up!
We came over the Col du Tsate to see the hike needed down to the lakes before the hike up again on the other side of the glacial moraine. Our legs were really tiring – this was one of the longest hike days (that is without our extra two hour detour).
We looked up from the lakes at the bottom to see our Cabane perched in what seemed an unreachable position. I guess not!
Karyn counted up the switchbacks so we could feel we were making progress along the way – she decided on 30 as a conservative calculation. Off we went. Distraction is the key to pain so we decided to imagine everything waiting for us at the top – cold beer, towels, free showers and electricity and hair conditioner!
We also had to come up with a story to sell the three musketeers as to why we were waylaid. We’re pretty creative between the two of us so that took no time – ‘we went up the hill to get better phone reception so we could make our calls on the downhill’.
Before we knew it (slight exaggeration) we were at switchback 26 and on the level of the Cabane. It was here we understood why the climb why so popular. We were perched above a glacier! It was truly wonderful to have made it and the view was spectacular.
It had been a hard, gruelling day…and we had made it! We looked onto the glacier in wonderment from the glassed walls of the Cabane for the long daylight hours.
This time over dinner we met kiwis Louise and Kay who have been living in London for the last decade or so. They had run into Keith at the bus stop before they came up – he introduced himself and shared his story – I was seeing he was quite the lady’s man! Turns out he is 84! On this news I admired him even more and my thoughts turned to how the recent event might affect his desire to keep hiking.