Posted by: Richard | June 18, 2009

Day 6: To Refuge D’Anterne (Alfred Wills)

June 16: Well, my feet hadn’t really recovered from the downhill of day 5, but I couldn’t stomach another day in Samoens (even though it is a beatiful old town).  So, with bandaids on we shuffled out of town.  Each step sent sharp pain up my legs to my spine.  This was likely a bad idea.

Today was supposed to be a short-day, and I thought that even in pain, I could do it.

I went very poorly today and I don’t have the best recollection of what we did.  We walked in terribly damp condition, first through a gorge and a damp forest, then back down.  We started making our way up (we had a gain of about 1,200m today) and I had to stop every 45 minutes to rest.  Lynn was doing great, and took the lead in route finding.

We finally got to the shoulder of Anterne, one hour from our refuge (and two hours behind schedule).  I was in the most tremendous pain, with a constant mantra of “My feet don’t hurt” at varying speeds (some quickly, then very slowly).  I was so sore, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day and we’d be stuck in the high alpine.

Finally, we arrived at the refuge.  We were the only guests in a very very cool old shepherd’s barn.  5 different sleeping levels up through the rafters, but we took the bottom level.  The refuge had only opened a few days before, as this was an incredible year for snow melt, a regular year would have seen several feet of snow at the refuge where now there was none.

As the sibling of a medical doctor, I took the initiative to dose myself liberally with red wine to assist in foot recovery. Lynn’s feet (which didn’t look too good) assisted me as we downed 0.5L of red wine on empty stomachs.  A bit dizzy, we finally had a local specialty in cheese fondue for dinner.  This was rather unimpressive for us, and was very heavy on the stomach.  Many dinners are finished with cheese in France, and Lynn and I have been having vivid, disturbing dreams after all these cheesy meals.

After dinner, the guardian of the refuge (who was up by herself) offered us some homemade liquor’s (lovely) and we chatted.  Both Lynn and I thought it would be tough to be alone for so long up at a deserted refuge.  But it wouldn’t be for long.  By the middle of July, the lodge would be full with 50+ guests.

After dinner we quickly went to bed and slept soundly.

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