TRAVEL JOURNAL 16: THE START OF THE TOUR

So I MIGHT have been temporarily insane when I planned this part of the trip, and it had been causing me anxiety attacks the whole time when I woke up late at night.

For this part we met my dad and Rose at a hostel in Chamonix to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc over 10 days. If you’re not familiar with it, it is a 105 mile trail that circles Mont Blanc, passing through France, Italy, and Switzerland.

My dad panics easily in unfamiliar situations, which renders him uncooperative and completely useless, but I needed him to chaperone Rose over on the transatlantic flight.

He was at first taken aback by the dormitory style rooms at the hostel, not realizing that anything else was WAY over our budget in this town that earns it’s living by over-charging tourists. He had already been suckered into the ridiculously expensive bread-and-jam breakfast that everyone else at the hostel declined to pay for when we got there.

The first trouble was his inability to use Google maps to find an exchange bureau, and he would have wandered around Chamonix for days staring at the tourist office map if Rose hadn’t been there to help him unlock the cell phone he borrowed from my mom, and I wasn’t there to navigate.

We got off to a late start, finally getting to the wooden stairs that mark the beginning of the trail around noon.

Once we started, we immediately left him way behind, and when we went back to check on him, he had his camera out and was snapping pictures of butterflies and refused to be rushed along. Without looking up he said we should go on and he would “catch up later”.

The Teenager was the next to cause problems. We were only hiking for 5 minutes before he was “too tired” and threw himself and his pack on the ground and started belting out annoying songs.

Rose and I gladly left him at the first turn, with instructions to meet us at Col De Voza with my dad once they had both gotten themselves together. It is the first big stop and is clearly marked on all the signs, about a 2 hour hike if you don’t make too many stops. The last glimpse we had of him, he was lounging in the middle of the path and digging into the bag of food.

Rose and I walked all the way to Col de Voza. It was very uphill in some places, and we arrived very tired and hungry around 3pm. We had left all our food with the Teenager, so we had to subsist on over-priced ice cream bars while we waited for them.

The sun sank lower and lower, and we got nervous waiting. I sat with our stuff while Rose ran back to find them. I wouldn’t have minded so much if they hadn’t also had the tent, sleeping bags, guide book, and my sweater in their packs. At 5pm she returned with news that they were about 20 minutes away. It was still a 45 minute hike down into the next little village, not even the halfway point of the day’s hike.

When they finally caught up, we looked for a camp spot. A guy on the train had told us he had wild camped and camped near the refuges the whole time and had no problems, so when we saw tents set up a ways from the refuge, we set ours up too.

The Teenager decided he had to use the toilet, and went and asked at the refuge. Next thing I know, the nasty woman who runs the refuge was standing over me, shouting at me that we were TRESPASSING on PRIVATE PROPERTY, and how DARE we not come in and ask first to camp.

I told her I didn’t know and this was our first time hiking here. She insisted that EVERYONE knew, and it was 5€ per person immediately or we had to leave. My dad had the super bad timing to ask if there was wi-fi just then, which clearly was almost more than she could stand.

The sun was almost set, the Teenager was about to snap, and my dad looked grey and wan, so we shelled out the money while she emphasized to me with finger jabs that we had to be gone by 6am sharp the next morning. She gave us a creepy, money-hungry smile as we handed her 20€. It was an unpleasant end to a hard day.

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