Today was hard, so, so, so hard. But!! It was probably my favorite day of the trip this far!
We started with a delightful breakfast at the rufugio then began the hike. A local cat escorted us the quarter mile out of town. At times it would run to catch up to us, yet it was also sometimes distracted by the snails on the road. It was a bright, happy way to start the hike.
The first mile was tough. It was an awkward incline on the road. Not too steep, but not comfortable. My calves had not loosened at all and each step was painful. The trail lead us into the forest and the real incline began. It was so steep. I know I say that everyday, but I don’t know how else to say that we were literally climbing straight up a mountain. As hard as it was, there was so much joy to be felt.
Since we’re on day 9, we’ve gotten to know many of the other hikers who are on this stage. We don’t always stay at the same refugio, share a meal, or learn each other’s names, but there are so many familiar friendly faces at this phase.
Highlights from today:
- We ran into a couple from Belgium we ate dinner with a couple of nights ago and it was like catching up with old friends. We compared our hikes of the last two days and wished each other best.
- We hiked a long while with a sweet woman who was part of the Brisbane Bushwalkers Club.
- We enjoyed post hike drinks with two couples from California we’ve been leapfrogging with on the the trail the past several days.
- This is my favorite. The biiiggg incline of the day was really challenging for us all, especially for Ellie. When we reached the top, where we were wet, cold, and literally in a cloud, more than a dozen hikers make a tunnel and applauded for Ellie. A hiker asked if she could hug Ellie and then embraced with her warmth. There was applauding and a few tears from this mom who needed a village of hikers to cheer on her kiddo.
And those are just the big ones that come to mind. I love this trail and these fellow hikers.
Like, I had said, the day was tough. 10.78 miles, 4,102 feet of gain, and 3,938 of loss. The ups were hard, the downs were hard, and the bits of flat definitely didn’t seem to last long enough. However, the views were unmatched. The day started sunny, until we hiked right into the clouds. Then it was got rainy, windy, and cold as we finished the first big incline. We hiked down through the thickest cloud until there were blue skies above us. At that point we could see Mont Blanc and its neighboring mountains, I still gasp when I see it. The glaciers are so large, creating the longest waterfalls down the length of the mountains. It really is magical.
Our hotel for the evening is a mile and a half off the official trail. We had planned on hiking to it, but Zoe stumbled to the ground and we were all exhausted. At the turn off for the hotel we hopped on a bus, our first public transportation since we hit the trail. Many people take the ski lifts or buses to skip the hard parts, but we’ve walked every step of the trail. Since we’ll pick the trail up right where we left it, we decided it wasn’t really “cheating” to take the bus to the hotel. We almost missed it and catching it involved me seeing Zak and Ellie run faster than I ever have, but it was really nice to be transported by wheels.
The hotel has a lovely pool and we spent a couple of hours relaxing our muscles, such a great reward.
I can’t believe we’re down to two hiking days. I’m so tried and sore and everything hurts, I can’t wait for it to be over. At the same time, I’ve never felt stronger or more powerful, I don’t want to ever stop. I savor every second and am already replaying so many moments in my head. Hike of a lifetime.