Alpine Hiking Adventure Day 20 - Decisions, Decisions in the Chamonix Valley

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Monday 15 August 2016

Alpine Hiking Adventure Day 20 - Decisions, Decisions in the Chamonix Valley

Having gone to bed with a decision to make that would drastically change our hiking plans, we woke up and decided not to think about it for a while longer. Instead we decided to take as much advantage as we could of our hotel base, taking an hour to meditate (something we really had missed thru-hiking) and then having a swim and a sauna where I could have sat all morning.....but eventually it was time to leave.

We got packed up and checked out and only then sat down to make our final decision on what to do with our remaining days of hiking adventure. The previous evening we had been mentally preparing ourselves for the Haute Route and another 8 days of thru-hiking ......and then we had another option surprise us by popping into our inbox.

Essentially, 2 years ago when we first discovered the beautiful Val d'Anniviers in Switzerland we had also met (completely by chance on a hike) a wonderful couple named Robin and Shirley. We'd talked a little and gone on our separate hikes but a short while later when the heavens opened we ended up alongside them yet again on a cable car down the mountain and they invited us to their lovely apartment for tea. It was a very beautiful location right in the centre of Grimentz, a place where they enjoyed being and also let out for holiday lets when they were back in the UK. When we'd been planning our Haute Route last night we had emailed Robin and Shirley just to say we'd likely be passing through the area and would love to hello if they were in Grimentz. They'd replied that sadly they were currently in the UK, but generously offered us to rent the apartment for a week at a fantastic rate. It put us in a bit of a quandary.

On the one hand we'd been hiking for 3 weeks and felt we were getting a lot out of it and having planned the Haute Route it was hard to let go of another week of thru-hiking. On the other hand, we knew we were incredibly tired and Grimentz and the Val d'Anniviers is one of our most favourite places that we ever visited in Homer for so many reasons. We wrote about some of them here and now a week long stay, in high season was being waved under our noses.

It might sound like a no-brainer to some (either way) but we were seriously undecided and it went back and forth but ultimately.....we chose to go to Val d'Anniviers.

Still it was only Thursday and the week long stay didn't start until Saturday so we had 2 days left and now a bunch of things to sort out. For a start I needed new catheters sending out and now we'd have an address confirmed I had to organise some overseas shipping and we also had a bunch of other things to arrange.

We were very grateful therefore that the Hotel du Bois where we had been staying let us stay in their lounge using their internet until well into the afternoon. They even let Esther use their kitchen, working alongside their chef, to make us a green smoothie for lunch to go with the fantastic organic strawberries and bananas the nearby bio store had reduced for us. What a treat.

When we did get going we then decided on a detour into bustling Chamonix as for various reasons Esther needed some new shoes. Shopping isn't exactly our favourite chore, but again what we needed was right there when we needed it with a comfortable, reasonably priced pair being found in not too long.

However, the upshot of all of this busyness and planning was that by the time we were done it was coming on 6pm and we had nowhere confirmed to sleep. Earlier in the day our hearts had been set on wild camping again. Partly this was because we knew we'd be saying farewell to the tent for a while come Saturday and wanted to get back up in the hills, but also because our motorhome friend Hayley had emailed to let us know about the Perseid meteor shower that was due to reach its peak that very night (11th August).

For the second time that day we were again torn. The risk averse part of us said go to a campsite, it's too late to be heading off into the wild with just 3 hours daylight left. The other part said, we can do we decided to go for it and see if we could get back to the beautiful wild camping we'd loved a few nights earlier at 2200m Lac Chesery.  We caught a bus to Argentiere (1250m) and when we stepped off it was quarter past 7, with just 2 hours daylight left and a sign saying 3 hours to the lake! Off we go. Esther had some music on and before we knew I we'd powered up the near 1000m climb in just 90 minutes. Wow.

As soon as we arrived we knew we'd made the right decision. It was so peaceful and still after a few days in the valley and with clear skies allowing us to enjiy a stunning sunset over Mont Blanc and then stargaze even with a bright gibbous moon it felt good to be back in the wild if only for a couple more nights.


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