What a day today!! It was without a doubt..tough for both of us but one filled with such a feeling of accomplishment when we finally arrived at Orsieres.
The walk had been described in both our guidebooks as treacherous and definitely not one that cyclists should do and those walking should take extreme care and be mindful of the weather conditions. The alternative, after the road route..which was not advised due to heavy traffic, was to take a bus to the village 10 kms from Martigny and to walk to Orsieres from there. This was definitely not an option for us…so we chose to walk the mountain path.
It was a very difficult walk…starting quite gently but then rising very steeply over an initial 5 km stretch. There were precipitous drops into the valley far below..falling from very narrow steep up and down tracks…which at times were slippery underfoot. The constant need to be aware of the placement of each footstep was tiring in itself but the upward climb added to the strain. We were so thankful that our packs were safely in a taxi, being transported to our accommodation and not on our backs!
Jo starred today! I was so proud of her. We all have a phobia of some sort..I am sure. Mine is claustrophobia : )…to the extent that I will always take the stairs instead of the lift and I even worry when I lock a door of a room with no windows that I will forget which way to turn the lock to free myself…silly I know but that’s just me : ) Jo’s is acrophobia …..a fear of heights. Not a great phobia to have on a walk such as ours today but her strength and determination was remarkable and she was able to reason with the demons and walk out onto more friendly terrain with a spring in her step : )
I just want to show you some photos of our walk today. It really was incredibly beautiful…especially the latter part of the day when we were walking on wide tracts of land!!
I think it’s very important for anyone planning on walking the VF to take a few things into consideration when planning in this area. Firstly, don’t attempt this section of the walk if the weather is inclement….rain, fog or wind should definitely be a deterrent to walking this route. We were lucky today, as the weather was sensational! Sunny, very warm and hardly a breath of wind..the track also was relatively dry, due to a few warm days preceding. Secondly, if possible..arrange to have your backpack transported to the next town where you plan to stay the night. We were so thankful that we had done this.. as it freed us up considerably on those particularly steep ascents and descents!
Ok… I can’t even begin to describe the last 10 kms today….the views and the path this morning were gorgeous but this afternoon, that promise in the distance of the pass we were to cross, the valley views, the meadows of wild flowers and the tinkle of cow bells in the distance …was absolutely spell bounding!!
Well now I come to some very sad news from both of us…it has been very devastating in a way but we have rationalised and internalised and now have bounced back: )….. ready to continue our journey.
The way over Great St Bernard is closed at least until the first week of June! ….and we are only one day away! Apparently the snow up there is still very deep and there’s no possibility of snowclearing at this stage.This means that we won’t be able to stay at the hospice there …which we were looking forward to so much. This hospice has not closed it’s doors to travellers for over 1000 years!! From here we would have traversed only a little way and physically crossed the border of Switzerland into Italy. It is so ironic! We have walked all day in sweltering conditions..so untypical for this time of year…and we are carrying extra clothing…solely to be prepared for Great St Bernard Pass….
Our only choice now is to catch a bus through the St Bernard tunnel….which is open all year round and pick up the route as close as we can to the Italian border. So sad for us.. the lure of the tradition and history of the hospice at Great St Bernard pass has been one of the highlights of my trip and indeed Jo’s. Well, it was not to be this time round..but both of us are determined to visit under more favourable circumstances, in the next little while : )
Night from me..a very big day..: )
Love Netia X