Posted by Cris on October 18, 2007
As you have all seen already from the pics, we went hiking in the Alps last week. We were out for 3 nights and 4 days, and it was pretty amazing. I learned a few things from the outing too- first, its freaking cold in the Alps in October. I know, the pictures are full of blue skies. But it was reeeallly cold, we werent able to take off sweatshirts until the last day, and then only for a bit. We struggled through the first night, shivering, with or friend Julie. We only then were able to continue the other nights because Julie went home but we kept her sleeping bag and pad, so we had three of each for the two of us. French trailmakers dont mess around- this is the second thing I learned. They do switchbacks when they are really necessary, but other than that trails tend to go straight up hills. Brutal on the legs and the psyche when youre standing at the bottom looking up and imagining yourself rolling back down. On one trail we were more or less climbing on all fours- ‘a quatre pattes’ as they say here. Then there were the spikes- you saw the picture. We went up the trail, wondering how we would get around the cliff face but thinking the trail would do it somehow. Then we got there and our jaws dropped- it went across the cliff face, with the metal spikes to walk on and the cable to hold onto. I dont know if it was better or worse that the fog had rolled in and we couldnt see how far the cliff went down. I did half of it with no backpack and then decided I couldnt do it with a backpack on. Amy threatened that if she had to try her butt would freeze up and she wouldnt be able to go any more, then we would have to rescue her. So we went around.
The french mark trails differently than we do, in a more practical and less sceninc way- with spray paint. They choose a color per trail and then spray trees and rocks so you can follow. It makes it very easy to follow the trail, true, but they tend to go overboard, marking the trail every ten feet even when there is no other trail to follow, so you cant possibly get lost. It feels, at times, like youre hot on the trail of a very unoriginal grafitti artist, who cant do anything besides straight lines and arrows.
Anyhow, these things were all overshadowed by the beautiful sights, bright stars, deafening quiet at night, and clean air. A great way to spend some time.