Posted by: Richard | July 19, 2009

DAy 26: To Utelle

July 11: We were up early to make hay.  We had stopped early and needed to add another hour to our day today.  We had been unable to drink our sparkling apple juice (a favorite of ours) and so we drank it at breakfast.  Our bottle has the exact look of champagne, so I’m sure the others up early eating breakfast thought we were drinking champagne!  ha!

We had packed the night before, so immediately after our quick breakfast we were on the route, climbing up to St Dalmas and then the col.  We thought today would be an early climb and then easy walking.  We were kind of right.

We got to the col and then we contoured around ridges, slightly up and down for several hours.  We passed another disused military barracks where a French walker on our stage had called for a taxi as her shoulder, knees and ankles were killing and she couldn’t handle another 4 hours into Utelle.  At this point, we thought the rest of the day was easy as pie, so Lynn and I walked past and scoffed at the idea of a taxi. 

Oh how we misjudged the end of this stage.

We ended up climbing up onto an exposed ridge that neither Lynn nor I liked.  This took a long time.  Then we had to come down. The descent in the book was 75 minutes (i think). It took us 2.5hours.  This was frustrating.  It was also hard. Lynn and I were bagged and our joints didn’t really work.  Rather than step down normally, we would have to side step down the steps as our ankles and knees simply didn’t bend normally anymore.

We came into Utelle, and it was a lovely hilltop village.  The hotel was full (we’d called the day before), so we headed for the city hostel.  We’d tried to book, but the phone went unanswered.  We came into the gite, and there the guardian wasn’t there and there was some chaos as to whether there would be enough space.  Lynn and I simply couldn’t go any further at this point.  I went upto the dorm and claimed two beds.  Enough was enough, we needed to stay here.

Later, the guardian showed up and was so late that some others had gone into the woods to sleep naturally, so there were enough beds.  Unfortunately, the only restaurant in the town didn’t take credit card (though they did accept cheques!) so Lynn and I made a bizarre pasta with the remainder of our cash.

Later in the evening, our Dutch friends showed up, looking pretty destroyed.  Turns out that they had gotten food poisoning from the cafe in Rimplas that was closed when we went through.  What a hard day it was for us, and Arlen had been up all night sick…My god, that impressed me.  To walk 10 hours on no sleep, no food and feeling like barfing.  Very impressive.

After our meal, I crashed and had to go lie down.  Lynn gave me the iPod and I fell asleep to some Seinfeld…

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