It started as a lovely morning walk. After getting the ski lift to the top of the mountain to take in the stunning views, we had our route mapped out for the next few hours. Then we’d get home, shower and go and watch the football (despite not being a big football fan, I knew watching France in the World cup IN France would be really good fun!)
Anna had come to stay for the weekend and we enjoyed the fresh alpine air, nattering along as we walked. There was a bit of cloud and we’d been warned about thunderstorms later in the day – but that was no worry for us, we were only going to be out for a few hours…
I checked the time and was a bit shocked to see 2 hours had passed and we weren’t yet halfway! I wasn’t worried, I knew exactly where we were and it was so good catching up with an old friend 🙂
We started to get into trouble when we went off the path, a shortcut that took us over a rocky outcrop that had stones the size of melons which were uneven underfoot. It was slow going and whilst we could see exactly where we were going, what would have taken 10 minutes to walk on normal ground was taking us over an hour, it was slow progress. Every time I looked at the views I felt like an ant, a tiny speck within the epic mountain range. The sense of our smallness was hard to believe. And yet looking down at my feet and the never ending rocks, I felt like a giant.
I still wasn’t worried – the cloud meant that we weren’t baking hot and we had water and raincoats if it cooled off. Anna had a few slips on the snow and rocks (yes, in July there is still some snow that hasn’t melted!) but spirits were up. I say that now – but I was desperately trying to keep HER happy and fine in case she realised that we still had a way to go and weren’t exactly where we should be. I had visions of her slipping and twisting (or even worse, breaking) an ankle… a few miles from the nearest road, it would not be easy if something went wrong to get help.
We could see the top and finally scrambled using our hands as well (it was that steep) to check the views and look to the valley below. More breathtaking beautiful views of white topped mountains, streams and rolling hills.
I couldn’t see it. I didn’t understand!
Our destination was a refuge hut next to a lake, used by skiers in the Winter and walkers in the Summer. These tiny log cabins are all over the mountains and offer basic sleeping accommodation and food. I had done this route before several times in the snow and we could always see the hut from this point. Not wanting to alarm Anna, I suggested we headed down towards a stream and a distant path.
Toes hurting a bit now from being squashed as we went downhill instead of up, (about 4 hours in now) we followed the most beautiful stream. Butterflies fluttered around us and the sound of the babbling water was soothing. I was thankful that neither of us had hurt ourselves and were back onto grass instead of rock. But where was the hut?
At this point I also realised I had no 4g or mobile network coverage. Surprisingly I had been doing well until this point and had been messaging my husband our whereabouts so that he wouldn’t get worried as we’d been gone longer than expected.
5 hours into our walk we reached the hut and sat down. We refilled our water bottles from the cold mountain water and had a coffee. I could see Anna was tired. What to do? I knew we were fine now but there was no getting around the distance, at least another two hours. I walked back 10 minutes up a track to get phone coverage and call my husband, to discover that he was so concerned he’d jumped to come and rescue us… bringing blankets, food and water. ‘Don’t worry’ he said, a local farmer had even agreed to give us a lift on his tractor back down the mountain!
We carried on to the where we knew the tractor could reach, we had to get to the point where the path turned into a track. But clouds drew in and the rain began. Wimbledon had finished. The football was coming to an end. Hungry now and starting to get wet, we kept walking. Quiet now, no words between us anymore. Just wanting to get to food, warmth and rest. On the breeze we heard the clanging of cowbells, we looked down to the end of the valley and saw a herd of cows, tractor and farmer!
Our smiles returned, we picked up the pace, chat resumed – both of us relieved that all would be well.
About an hour later and just as the thunder began we got in the car to head home. We had just escaped the rain and were feeling tired but happy to be sitting down!
What a day.
We laughed that evening over a glass of rosé how I’d not told Anna that we had lost phone signal in case she got worried, and how we could have got into serious trouble. The food from our BBQ that evening was the best I’d ever tasted. Ok – I know it wasn’t a brush with death, but it was one of the most challenging days I’ve had in a long time. My friend had trusted me to guide her safely and I had to keep my head when things didn’t go to plan.
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Sir Edmund Hillary.
Reflecting back, we both learned new things about ourselves, our stamina, our courage and determination to keep going even when things were getting sketchy. Making a big change or decision to lose weight can seem like a mountain to climb too
At least with weight loss I know what I’m doing – next time we go walking I’m going with someone who knows exactly which route we have to take!
(and I won’t stray from the path, even if I think I know best!)
Alls well that ends well… we got to see some incredible mountains, did 35,000 steps and a saw dramatic thunderstorm. Who needs football anyway… and the farmer’s dog turned out to pretty cute too! 😉
Moral of the story….
Climb (or crawl up) your mountain, take a guide if need be and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I’m here ready to guide you when you decide you’re ready 🙂