I woke up at 5:50 and started quickly packing as per orders of the grouchy woman at the Refuge du Fioux. We were all exhausted, so I offered to trade packs with the Teenager, who being young and strong, plus spending the whole vacation complaining that he’s losing his chest and abs, was carrying the tent and sleeping bags.
We walked for hours and crossed serval beautiful glacial torrents, but after lunch Rose had shin splints, my dad said he was about to collapse, and the Teenager complained of a severe headache.
We were only at Tresse, about the halfway point of what was supposed to be the first day’s hike, but we took the bus to Les Contamines where there was an official campground at Le Pontet.
I think the people who hike the whole thing in 10 days 1) Don’t bring their whiny children 2) Don’t bring their 63 year old dad and his 35lbs of camera equipment and 3) Don’t have my mom packing the backpacks for the other family members. We might have been able to hike the whole thing in a month. Maybe.
We literally couldn’t move the next day, so we had to stay in Les Contamines to rest.
Les Contamines is like a tiny town Alpy version of Orlando, but without the customer service because it’s French. It is full of cheesy attractions and millionaire vacation homes with faux rustic antique decor and bits of old fashioned farm equiptment tacked to the outsides of walls.
Everything is so expensive the town can afford a free tourist bus service, but we discovered the place is a little like Hotel California, and it was impossible to leave without hiking your way out for miles over the alps.
Someone on the trail had suggested we find a bus and skip ahead to Le Chapieux so we got our hopes up it would get easier after this, but this proved to be fantastical thinking.
We did a few touristy things on the rest day, like going up to a lake in a ski lift and stopping by a little amusement park where Rose and the Teenager bounced around on a trampoline and rode on electric 4-wheelers on a tiny gravel track. It was like watching an electric wheel chair race, and the Teenager’s ran out of battery in the middle and was just crawling along.
The problem with touristy things is they are always underwhelming lame, and afterwards you feel like your pocket book was violated by highway robbers.
The best thing about our stop here was we were lucky to be there just as the little town Notre-Dame de la Gorges put on an incredible fireworks show, with fire spinners and a giant floating puppet that the Teenager hid from because he said it would give him nightmares.
As early as possible the next morning (which wasn’t very early for us), we clipped on our packs and started on what we knew would be a long day all uphill.