Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Alpine experiences - Stage 3

My brother made a record of our experiences in the alps. I initially used this as reference for my own writing, but I found it a really engaging read. It was just thought by thought experience by experience. So I asked him if I could stick it up on a post, effectively making him a guest writer. Thankfully he was happy for me to do that! So read on below. Alpine experiences - Stage 2, finished with us having just climbed and descended the Col du Joux Planes. And so our trip continues. Thanks for this bro.


This 20 hour period was the best of the holiday [beginning at the end of the ride yesterday]. Awoke and sighed with relief to find that I had slept well. Beautiful morning late-ish 0830. HOT. Was overjoyed to learn that Ollie too, had slept well. Ollie kept wanting milk. Spent a relaxed morning eating, packing and bathing in the stream this time we both went down. So great to have a fresh bracing wash, with your hands cupping the water. It is one of the things I have implemented back here. In the shelter of the bridge. Got out into the warm sunshine almost clean and re-invigourated. Stood watching a lizard bask in the sun on the high man made concrete/shingle bank. Made a plan to head off to Sion. Stopped in the place that we found by the main river. Had a walk along and down to the bank. There was a dark grey fine sand. The width and strength of the river, the rockiness and the surroundings made me think of Canada. I wish to go there someday.The whole freshwater/outdoor /sunny experience made me think of an environment much closer to home: Dartmoor. It is relatively easy to get to, and I love the atmosphere. I plan on returning soon again and again. In the palm of the valley on the small grass picnic area, next to the quiet valley road, in shade of the baking sun, I did some yoga. Then stood on a big boulder and tree posed. Felt alive. Looked at map and then finally set sail, retracing yesterday morning's route and stopping for petrol cheap in Cluncy sp? Then onto the cheap valley road alternative to the toll road and some stunning cliffs. Very hot and slowish for the first part, but the toll road ended and we joined the dual carriage way made some progress and then I pointed out Mont Blanc aire [aire is a rest area] wasn't sure whether to stop but luckily Ollie made the active decision. Breathtaking panoramas. Hot on the valley floor, Mont blanc summit covered by clouds. But 360 degrees of interest.

Could have stayed for longer and wallowed in the sublime, but had to move on. As was the story of the holiday. How long does it take for a scene to truly filter through. For you to absorb most of what it has to offer. Is it best to stay until you feel one with it, or best to leave, and leave wanting more. Drove up into chamonix, the road as impressive as I remembered, a few tunnels and scenic shots, tried to drive through Chamonix but Hot and crowded, as soon as we left, into the tree lined valley road, loads of places to camp, and cyclists jamming the road. Drove up through Argentiere, up an unexpectedly beautiful climb. The next hour of driving was relentlessly sublime.We stopped above Argentieres on the slope and went for a quick hike up into the alpine forest just off the road. I had the urge to continue the holiday walking, it was so peaceful and clean. Legs were still heavy from previous day though. Returned to the car. Over the hill and over the swiss border up one more stunning climb and then cresting it, a further spectacle that was too much to truly appreciate. The valley below was wide and perfectly level. There had never been such definition in the heights before. I cannot describe adequately at this time.

There was something about the perfect order of the manmade structures reflecting the geometic precision of the valley floor. The valley floor was uniformly level as the sea. There was no undulation so mountain and valley were clearly defined. Stopped for a view on a hairpin runoff with a bus. Rejoined the road behind a cyclist who was really motoring - he overtook a caravan. Ollie was tempted by the descent. Descended into vinyard- covering much of this valley floor- and onto the dual carriageway. So ended the best chunk of the holiday.We drove to Sion and then into Sion. Crowded and humid. Out of Sion. Found a petrol station and looked at a hiking map to find the name of the climb that was wanted. Set the Sat Nav to Conthey sp? and back through Sion and then drove to Colney and out, up into the vinyards and down to the main road, there was seemingly no space unused, no woodland/trees! [now that I think of it] everywhere exposed and open to traffic. Crowded and bustling. Drove back to Convey, having been on the move for the best part of 6 hours, tiredness and irritation was setting in.  From now on in note form: Intention to climb Sanetsch and find somewhere up there to camp. Looked at the steep vinyard foothills but eventually opted for the main road up. We found most promising grass verge next to a river but drove round to quieter side with vinyard. However it was not quiet. Rush hour and Vinyard entrance and I had noticed a police patrol. Stopped to rest. And then off to get milk for Ollie. Went looking for supermarket but closed. Off to petrol station. I was now feeling less self conscious in this atmosphere. Looked at tarts but resisted. Ollie paid and the girl mutter something that we both didnot understand. Le ticket, le billet of course. Why does one always make out the most sinister ideas. Back to otherside of grass verge, by river with lots of cars parked. Ollie parks perpendicular to them and right off the road. We cook eat and wash a little in the river where you are told not to wash as power station flushes tides. To bed. Starts to rain in fits, but so hot in the valley and in the car. I give Ollie light sleeping bag and he has a poor night's sleep due to cold. I sleep 6hrs -ish but disturbed by the vibrations of a diesel police car which stops opposite us for a couple of mins. Checking us out? It is otherwise too much of a coincidence. After 2 minutes I rise slowly and look. As they drive off. I remained still for the whole period.

Wednesday. Awake to a comotion of voices. Get up and see two vinyard workers staring into my bedroom in the rain. It is 7pm and time for their collection. A bit of a start. Olly wants to get in but I mislay the key. Anyway, feel like a bit of target here, but they eventually get on with their lives and we are left to curse another sub standard nights sleep and the rain.


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