samedi 8 septembre 2012

GR5 Just the beginning

During the summer, Alain and I had some time to ourselves, which is rare, in fact, coming to think about it, this was the first ever time that all the children were somewhere else, far from us, but happy, either with family or friends...initial plans concerning Charlotte nearly put the damper on things, leaving us with four choices:
  • leave her at home alone......hell no, sixteen, rebel at heart, the thought frightens me even now
  • Change Oliver's plans so the two of them could stay at home at home unthinkable, two, no way.  I still remember Oliver asking a couple of years back "mum, is it ok if I have a couple of friends hang out here tonight?"  Couple = twenty-five, most of whom stayed the night, camped out in our sitting room.  So one can understand I am still a tad worried about leaving the house to them, especially as we planned to go hiking for a week
  • Get Charlotte to come along with us, Miss C, quite a couch potato and I don't think we'd get her to walk anywhere apart from in a shopping mall
  • Last choice, the one we opted for, was to leave the two of them camping at Thonon Les Bains, our starting point, we all the food and money they needed, leaving Mr O, now eighteen to be responsible for a maximum of three nights, meaning we needed to walk fast.

   Starting from Thonon, we headed towards the beginning of the GR which we found at the entrance of the town's tourist forest.  It was a hot day, and we walked fast, trying to cover as much distance while it was easy as quickly as possible. En Route, we met some Canadians, who were just starting, the only difference being they had two months to walk it, whereas we had three days to do as much as possible.
 As I mentioned earlier, it started out hot, but later rather wet, we had to seek cover, at least till the rain subsided, which it did, thankfully.
The sky still looked threatening so we almost ran.  We pitched the tent up on the side of a country road just after Chevenoz in extreme circumstances, heaving rain, driving wind and in the dark, luckily we had headlamps.  We managed to eat and enjoy a barely warm backpackers meal and then spent about an hour holding down the roof down because of the storm.

This post is becoming long, so I'll cut to the chase, the next day we walked twelve hours (stops included). 
We climbed up and down six mountain passes, during that time the weather got worse and worse.  The clouds descended upon us when we were climbing La Dent d'Oche, we stumbled along, barely being able to see whilst walking on a loose stoney and somewhat treacherous path.  From then on in, we took wrong turnings, became stressed, tired and irritated, but had to go on.  The weather worsened, we got soaked to the skin more than once, Alain slipped on every descend, more than once, but eventually we made it to the refuge de Bise.   Outside some people were clearing up after a big village fete, we learnt later that they had roasted a 750 kilo cow on a spit.  
Our bad luck, got better, there was a restaurant there, just near the refuge, with a open fire burning, we sat and ate a most delicious and hot meal. I had Diot with a red wine and mushroom sauce and Alain had a amazing Tartiflette...being inside, eating great food, felt like heaven to us.
After we walked on, destination being La Chapelle d'Abondance.
We had one main ascension (La Bosse), but we made it, arrive in the village, took the first hotel we found and decided that we would go further. Tomorrow we'd double back and go back to the campsite.

The next day we cheated and took a bus to Chevenoz and walked from there.
Weather was hot again, we made great progress and stopped off for a well deserved coke in a quaint café post office in Reyvroz.  

 We arrived back at Thonon at five.  Oliver and Charlotte were to be found in the internet room, happy, all money spent in just less than two days, i.e 110 euros (they had 60 euros worth of food in the car for the duration).  
We shared a meal together and a local bottle of white wine and contemplated over our two day hike.
Facts being:

  • We covered roughly 76 kilometers
  • Climbed D+ 3000
  • Descend 2000
  • carried bags weighing 13 kilos and 8 kilos respectfully....far too hard with hindsight
  • Lost  one kilo
  • Alain ended up with three blisters and one sore bottom from falling so much

We dearly hope to go back next year, better prepared, new and lighter bags and this time for one whole week, child free.  We'd take up where we left off at La Chapelle d'Abondance and weather permitting get to Contamines, 126 kilometers away.

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