Plan: Day 53 - Lago Goillet to Rifugio Vieux Crest - 18 km, 800 metres ascent, 7 hours.
Actual: Wild camp at 2700 metres in Val di Courtod to B+B Alta Via in St. Jacques:
7 km, 0 metres ascent, 2 hours including 0.2 hours breaks.
Best bit: The plan worked!
Yesterday the Matterhorn came and went. All in one day. Quite a surprise to us as we had spent about a week getting past Mont Blanc, which was still in view from Colle di Valcornera a couple of days ago.
But wait, flinging the curtains open this morning as the sun beat down on our lie in, what was that rocky cone on the horizon? The Matterhorn, of course, taunting us from its distant perch high above yesterday's broad col.
Cunning plan number 1:
The forecast was 'rain', so we expected that to happen. The plan was simple. Hole up at our lovely camping spot for the day and enjoy a long day in the sun tomorrow to reach the B+B in Gressoney booked by Nick. We had plenty of provisions. Eating them would lighten our loads.
Observing the blue sky above, we quickly realised the utter failure of this cunning plan.
Despite the failure of cunning plan number 1, that had at least given us a lie in and a dry tent, and rain was still expected. Whilst we were going through our daily daubing of sun tan cream ritual (we haven't missed a day on the entire trip), dark clouds were building all around.
Leaving camp after 9 am we descended into emerald green meadows, meeting a group of seven French people struggling slowly up the well graded path.
It was a lovely path that led into the Ayas valley, past farmsteads and goats, one of them a massive male with huge winged horns.
We had originally planned to wild camp beyond Rif Vieux Crest, which was fully booked.
The clouds grew darker. We felt the occasional spot of rain.
The path led down past huge puff balls to a former guides house at Fiery, then on to Blanchard and the small village of St Jacques. We noticed the 'rascard' type of construction - timber buildings supported by mushroom shaped pillars in stone and wood.
Cunning plan number 2:
Clearly a wet afternoon was in prospect. It would be easy to reach Gressoney in a day from here. B+B Alta Via beamed at us enticingly. It was 11 am. We booked in.
The plan worked. The rain soon started. It would have been a fairly dismal afternoon's walk. A coffee in a café and a stroll around the village were enjoyed whilst the sun lasted. We reported home - Sue, relaxing with her coffee in this nice little village.
'Holed up' is not the right description for our sojourn in this lovely wood-panelled farmhouse built in 1682. The bedrooms are bijou but warm and comfy, and there's a spacious living room for us to spend the afternoon in comfort.
Hopefully we can find a restaurant for dinner. My chef is tired after two days of cooking!
Yesterday I announced the Tour of Monte Rosa (TMR) as our last 'named' footpath. I was wrong, we have now joined the Grande Sentiero Walser (GSW), that retraces the steps taken by the Vallesi people between the 12th and 14th centuries as they migrated in search of new lands to colonise. We are also close to the TMR, having left it in favour of our old friend, AV1, which we consider to be a superb route. We will follow it tomorrow until we turn along the GSW to Gressoney la Trinité.
I've taken the liberty today of checking messages:
Thank you, Gillian, for informing Cicerone of our existence, and thank you, the team at Cicerone for your nice message. We are indeed having a fantastic time and will be in touch via Gillian when we return home. We look forward to seeing you at the Kendal Mountain Festival in November, and in the meantime will let you have some comments on one of your other (more flawed than Gillian's) guides.
Hello Helen - thanks for your message. We aren't really feeling neglected as we know we have around 50 regular readers, very few of whom make comments.
One of those who does make comments is the inimitable Mr Sloman, himself a perambulant of long-distance walks and inveterate blogger and womaniser. He knows that the receipt of comments whilst 'on the road' adds to the pleasure. Interactive blogging, I suppose.
Alan - (touché!) before we left on this trip I took Sue to a Shop (yes!) to buy a new Thermarest. She looked at the Cascade Designs 6.5 cm sleeping mat and took advice. All that glistens is not gold. It has defects, that's all I'm saying, and her purchase of the pretty pink Prolite womens mat is not regretted. It is a star of the trip, along with her ('stonking pillow') RAB vapour rise fleece (an expensive pillow, if you ask me!). But thank you for your comments Alan; we enjoy them nearly as much as Notchy's News Bulletins. (I would publish these if I could afford to buy the copyright.)