Actual: Walk from Rif Vulpot to the Grand Hotel, Usseglio - 8 km, 100 metres ascent, 2 hours. Plus an excursion by thumb to Viu.
Best bit: The generosity of Silvano and his family and friends.
Cumulative to date (planned in brackets):
503 km (482), 35300 metres ascent (35200), 182 hours (roughly!) walking (188).
No of summits visited: 9
No of cols or passes visited: 64
Highest point: Rocciamelone - 3528 metres
No of native English speakers met/seen from a distance: an American coach party, and an English Landrover in the Susa valley.
Hours waterproofs worn: 1.5
Roman - thanks again for your kind words - we had fine views to France from Rocciamelone, but the Susa valley was filling with cloud and obscured the view towards Monte Viso. It was indeed a most satisfying summit to reach, and a great traverse from Rif Stellina. We agree with you, this really is a beautiful part of the world. Just Italians and a few French hereabouts. Even the Germans have (temporarily!) disappeared.
Alan, it appears you have selected yourself (and friends, we hope) as a victim for our picture show. We are burning through the memory cards and will have a difficult editing job when home. We've been booked by the Stockport Walking Group so we'll have to try to live up to Andy Howell's professional standards. Some dry runs will be welcome. Tim and Kate have already volunteered as victims. All we need is a power point and a patch of grass for the Nallo.
Arlene - are you one of those slim Americans from Torre Pellice?
Andrew - we are pleased to hear that even a complete stranger to us can enjoy these ramblings. It's a shame we can't post more pictures (I know Alan would like more) but there's a cost issue, they are poor quality images, and a strong signal is needed to send them.
We hope the few images we are managing to post give a flavour of what we are experiencing. More will be added on our return.
Stay at Home Hazel - you need to change your name - we hope your trip to the Alps is as sunny as ours, but it does seem you've brought a slight change with you! Anyway, we hope that by the time you read this you will have had a great holiday and that Alastair's shins will have recovered. We were wondering how the Sandstone Trail Challenge went, I meant to wish him well in an earlier entry...
Jorg(?) from Hanover - hello, it was a pleasure to meet you tonight. We hope you enjoyed the rest of your GTA trip.
Finally to Massimilliano and Cinzia (Max and Cindy - please let us know the correct spellings) and especially to Silvano and family - thank you for your kindness today in a time of need. We can't repay you directly but will do so in kind to others.
It dawned sunny again, despite last night's rain. The guardian at Rif Vulpot understood our needs and established that there was room for us at the Posto Tappa in Usseglio proper. Glancing at our GTA book, she was able to reveal some critically important information about page 126 - the goats are called Brigella and Noisetta. She was thrilled to see them!
We then had a gentle two hour stroll in the sun to yesterday's planned resting point - a nice village with a bustling Sunday market and lots of Italian day trippers. Our apprehension about the Grand Hotel - not Gillian Price's most rave review - dissolved when we were greeted in Italian by a smartly uniformed man.
'You must be the two Ingleses from Vulpot.'
We affirmed, and were shown efficiently to a good en suite double room. My rucksack was carried up by a young lady who treated it like a feather!
A trip to the market produced a delicious lunch - polenta bread, local goats cheese, olives, small sweet onions pickled in white wine, etc. Lovely, but expensive.
Lunch in the sun outside the hotel was followed by more important business. Sue had noticed she had only €15 left - she is the banker on this trip, and my small reserve fund wouldn't get us to Courmeyeur.
Options were assessed. We decided to go to Viu - 15 km down the road. Thumbs went out and a cyclist apologetically declined. 'Max and Cindy' were in the car behind and we very much enjoyed their company, talking about our route, and the mountains, for a half hour that passed very quickly.
So we got our money, then sat in a bar for an hour and a half after a wander around the nice little town, waiting for the alimentari to open, the one in Usseglio being poorly stocked for our needs. The one in Viu was little better, so with just a few tins of fish in our bag we extracted our thumbs again. There's a road junction near Viu so it was a good walk to get to a 'hitching spot'. Quite a few people around - that didn't help.
Some men and their families wandered up the road. One of them had a camera with a very long lens. A moronic trail biker tried to cover us with mud as he rode up the muddy verge where we were standing. There were long gaps of up to 10 minutes between cars. A van driver stopped - not going our way. Two old ladies - ditto. After an hour and a half we were about to give up and look for a taxi.
The man with the big camera and his entourage reappeared, returning from their walk.
'No taxis, probably no bus.'. We would have to call our hotel and try to get them to pick us up.
'Come with us' said Silvano. And so, this true gentleman and his family took us back to their apartment, gave us coffee and biscuits, then Silvano and his friend drove us back up to Usseglio in a very comfortable Fiat Panda.
Thank you, Silvano, you were so kind and helpful, we really appreciated the lift that you gave us, and we enjoyed talking about photography, etc.
The evening produced a very efficiently served and cleared (and tasty) meal - it was all over in 45 minutes. Then we chatted to Jorg, from Hanover. He is doing some of the GTA and is heading off early tomorrow in the direction from which we have come.
That's enough from this particular 'rest day'. We hope the next one will be a little more 'restful'.
It's raining tonight, but we are very comfy in this cosy hotel.