Posted by: Richard | June 18, 2009

Day 4: to Col de Bassachaux

June 13: Like any good trekkers, we had brought much more gear than we needed.  After three days of straining, today was the day to lighten our packs (though not for the last time). Looking at our gear, we dropped 1.5kg of food, 1kg of gas (it was the wrong type anyway) and would mail 1.5kg of books and games home.  Today we posted our gear home to Vista.

Over the first few days, I had been steadily increasing the load I was carrying and dropping the weight in Lynn’s pack.  This had resulted in the two of us hiking at roughly the same speed.  This is very nice for both of us, as it is easier to talk and is nice just to walk together and be quiet as well.

Today we started late as we slept in and the post office didn’t open until 9am.  We started off uphill, with the meal from the night before possessing Lynn as she powered up hill.  It was sunny and glorious, in fact almost a bit too hot for us.  We had a straight 900 m climb uphill, with great views up and down valley’s.  We passed above Chatelet (a ski base for the Portes de Soleil ski areas) and into the Alpine. 

Today was a tough day, and I started to flag after about 5 hours, though Lynn kept going strong.  As I got my second wind, Lynn started to flag, especially the last little bit up to the Col de Bassachaux.  At the top, the refuge (dormitories) had opened early because of the lack of snow this year (tons of snow during the ski season, but it is unseasonably warm, with high’s in the upper 20’s for the past month).  We were thankful for this as we approached a cabin that had a look of Skoki Lodge in the Canadian Rockies.  We were well received, and found out we were the only guests that night. 

We relaxed on the patio, watching all the day trippers leave and drinking as much water as our bodies could take.  It was a beautiful location to stretch and write in.  Like most refuges, dinner and breakfast is included (all for about 35 euros / person), so Lynn and I had another omelette for dinner (this time with french fries on the side and salad).  Often people don’t realize I speak french, so I was able to share in the joke from the kitchen asking if “Les Anglais veux de tartar” (do the English want some tartar sauce).  The joke in France is that all English people eat is fish and chips.  I was too tired to actually tell the chef that the national dish of England is not fish and chips, rather boiled chicken and salad cream.

We didn’t realize it, but the refuge also boasted a boisterous dinner service.  Lynn and I were woken up at regular intervals by wild cheering and heartfelt goodnights from downstairs.  Finally, it seemed like all had gone and we’d get some peace and quiet.  We were so wrong.

The owner of the refuge, a lovely elderly woman, also stayed at the refuge, sleeping in a room adjacent to the dormitories.  This wasn’t too bad, until the chainsaw’s started going.  We were woken up again and again with heavy snoring and significant bouts of phlegm extraction.  This was a unique experience, one I haven’t had.  Finally, at 4am a door squealed open and we saw the old woman walking through the dormitories with a lantern.  Lynn sat up and screamed and I marvelled at what a unique place this was.

We probably should have just pitched our tent outside on the lawn and enjoyed an uninterrupted sleep.

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