Friday, April 15, 2016

Day 9: Ladders! Ladders! And more ladders!

September 3: It never rained to speak of during the night. Just the occasional rain drop to keep me on my toes and worry me for nothing. In the morning, it was foggy, and but the weather forecast from two days earlier hadn't called for rain and I lingered in camp hoping the fog would burn off into a beautiful, clear day. For a while, things seemed to be headed in that direction and I even felt the sun poke through the clouds and a large patch of blue sky.... then it went away as quickly as it arrived.

By 9:30, I was restless and finally packed up camp and headed out.

You teasing clouds....

The day started with a steep climb, soon approaching what this section of trail was most famous for: ladders! And lots of them. The ladders were sturdy, metal things, solidly embedded into the rock. Some of the other hikers I met seemed nervous about them, but I found them exhilerating.

Occasionally the fog and clouds would form a hole large enough that it formed a small window into the distant views, which I should have been grateful for, but instead they annoyed me to no end. As if the clouds were teasing me. "Oh, look," they'd call out to me. "There's some great stuff out here! Admire the beauty!" they would tell me, like a teasing woman showing her leg but nothing else. Go away clouds!!!!

The trail finally reached a junction where the alternate path that avoided the ladders rejoined the main route near the top of the mountain, at which point I could continue on the main route or take yet another alternate route that headed out to Lac Blanc. I decided to take the alternate this time, which was slightly longer but passed a few small, scenic lakes.

The first lake was so enveloped in fog, I couldn't see more than about a dozen feet across it, but by the time I reached Lac Blanc, the fog had departed and I had wonderful views of the lakes. The dramatic mountains surrounding the area, however, were still hidden in clouds.

I sat at a point overlooking the lake for an hour or so, eating snacks, resting, and continuing to hope the clouds would burn off for good, but they continued to toy with me, raising my hopes then dashing them again.

There was even a good patch of blue skies! But it didn't last long....

I continued onward, eventually rejoining the main route at the Refuge La Flegere, by a cable car and ski area. The cable car was running and the area was crowded with people who'd gotten the ride up. I kind of envied them--riding cable cars can be a heck of a lot of fun--but I still had a trail to hike. The cable car was in the wrong direction.

Marching onward, I reached an area my guidebook called an "open grasslands" at about the same time a very light sprinkle had started. It was light enough that the sprinkle dried faster than it fell so I never really got wet from it, but it concerned me enough that it was just a precursor of the rain to come and if I wanted to set up camp dry and warm, I should probably stop sooner rather than later. And these open grasslands were generally a great place to camp. In fact, I could find a few different campsites tucked alongside the trail here including abandoned fire rings.

From here, I knew the trail would start ascending a ridge, where the trail would likely be exposed and due to the clouds, wouldn't have views anyhow. Maybe the weather would be better tomorrow when I crossed the exposed ridges. Maybe I'd get some good views!

The biggest problem with the campsite, however, was the sheep poop--which was everywhere! I tried to find a small area that was largely clear of it. Considering it had already sprinkled lightly and the weather looked like it had no indication of settling down, I reluctantly set up my tarp again using the rocks from a fire ring to secure it in place. It was only 4:30 in the afternoon--an incredibly short day of hiking for a mere 7 hours. Which included my long lunch break at Lac Blanc.

I stopped at a great time because not more than a half hour later, the rain came down hard. I didn't care at this point since I was warm and dry under my tarp. I set up my water bottles under the edge of my tarp to catch rain water. I had originally planned to fill up whenever I crossed the next stream, but I stopped before reaching one so my water supply was low. Now that it was raining, I could harvest my own water by catching the runoff from my tarp. I filled up two liters of water--more than enough to get me through the night and the next morning.

An hour later, a few other guys showed up and set up their tent nearby in the rain. I felt a little sorry for them having to set up camp in the rain, but I was glad it wasn't my problem. =) They didn't say anything to me--too focused on setting up camp, then dived into their tents to get out of the rain. We never even said a single word to each other.

I spent the rest of the evening reading my Kindle--finishing my fourth book on this hike. I'd been reading my Kindle so much, it was nearly out of power. By comparison, on the AT when I was hiking all day long, I'd finish maybe one book in a month. On this trail, in only nine days, I'd already finished four. That's how easy and short this trail was for me--that I have enough time to complete full length novels every two days!

Let the ladders begin!

There's a fantastic view--trying to get out of the clouds!

This is the only set of double-ladders I saw on the trail.
The turquoise color of the Lac Blanc was wonderful, but I'd have like to see it on a clear day! I suspect the clouds muted the colors.

That's the town of Chamonix far below. The trail doesn't go through it, but I'd stop in the town for a few hours after I finished the trail.

The glacier kind of looks like a giant tongue coming out from the clouds above, doesn't it? =)

1 comment:

Jaxx said...

The clouds may have obstructed some of the views, but they made for some fantastic photos.