or, Tra La La Lally, Down in the Valley:
The following day, kingfox and I were trying to change our Alps-exiting train ticket to Paris...it left a day or two hence at an inconvenient time, so we tried to call and change it, but no dice, so we knew we had to head down to the town train station to change them in person. Instead of taking an expensive taxi, kingfox suggested that we hike down instead. It was a capital idea!
It was a pleasant (if extremely poorly marked and wandering) hike, and the trail varied between dirt road, narrow rocky footpath, streambed, pitted cow pasture, and something resembling parts of the AT.
We could see a storm rapidly approaching up the valley as we walked through a steep cow pasture.
A very wet and unhappy kingfox.
Down in the valley, the train led through lovely small Alpine hamlets and along a river that was being used for a french kayak school and competition. There was lovely mist rising off of the river, which was an unreal color.
The hike took us a long time. Not only did we get soaked to the skin, we also frequently had to guess at which trail would lead us to our goal. At one point, when trying to decide between the footpath and the road, an old Frenchman approached us from his vegetable garden. He looked like he was 80 years old, stooped, with rheumy eyes, a neck goiter, and gnarled hands covered in black dirt. "La piste!" he thundered at us, stomping his feet in a marching direction and pointing down the footpath, "La piste!" When an old man tells you to hike down the path and stomps his feet at you like a crazed dwarf, you go the way that he points!
We doubted that we were going to achieve the train station before it closed for the day, but we made it, exchanged the tickets, and celebrated our triumph with well-deserved beer in the town. We also picked up Vietnamese take-out, and toted it back with us to the mountaintop, riding the funicular up the slopes, and then taking the shuttle bus back to our particular peak-destination. (The shuttles ran on an once-an-hour schedule, so we usually spent a good deal of time waiting for the next one, and trying to engineer these trips efficiently).
We enjoyed our takeout and clean clothes, and watched parasailers glide past our window, but our day continued to be haunted by water when the dishwasher in our unit began to flood water all over the apartment, and we spent several hours mopping and wringing out towels.
Here, the model French breakfast:
Also: the mysterieux clothes washer francaise:
Coming up tomorrow, the Hike of Doom: Aguille Grave.