Gr5 Day 11 – Hiking poles!

Hiking poles are useful in the mountains for a variety of things – today including being my lip sync mike, my drumsticks and my dancing batons, and maybe lightening catchers 

Up and out of the Gite by 6am but I really wasn’t feeling the groove.  My body is holding up ok, although I am having some knee, shin and ankle issues. What I hadn’t realised is that I am a bit mentally done in.   I am sleeping ok, but am definitely not getting decent nutrition – the French seem to think bread and jam is a good enough breakfast.  It’s not!  I need protein and some good fats for fuel in the morning, and the diet of morning sugar is making me a bit exhausted.  I’m tired.  And I didn’t really mentally steel myself for today as it is  the easiest day I am doing on the whole hike (35k and not too much up and down).

I powered grumpily through the first two hours of the trail, including a section where I just wanted to sit down and cry as there was about 100m of ‘goat path’ across a crumbling ravine. I arrived in st Delmas, hoping a coffee would make it all better but all four of the town’s cafes were closed.  Crap!  The next town was two hours away.

St delmas – lovely town, no coffee 

So, for the first time on this whole hike, I resorted to listening to music to pep me up.  It worked.  I danced up the mountain side flipping between singing and lip syncing (depending how steep the gradient was), and grooved out with my poles – drumming, twirling, dancing and lip syncing like a queen.   I was mildly worried some French farmer might see me, but then I decided I really didn’t give a crap.

I got to the top of the hill and looked down to St Etienne where I was hoping for coffee and proper food.  It was a long way down and my knees were not psyched!  But for some reason I broke into a run, and I scampered the 2k down the hill like a puppy dog.  The pain in my ankle at the bottom would suggest it wasn’t the best idea, but it did wonders for my soul.  Thanks to Pink, Adele, Def Leppard, ACDC, Nickelbak and friends for the encouragement.

St Etienne was lovely – and I procured peaches, bananas, Parma ham, cheese and good brown bread, and had two coffees.  I also got a lovely email from justgiving telling me I had a donation of £100 from one of my fave families.  Feeling better!

Up a big hill to the horrid town of auron which was overrun with VTT- ists (mountain bikers) and lots of ugly buildings, and I lost the trail a few times getting out of town and climbing up the ski piste to the pass.Once at the Col de blagnon, it was all downhill to Roya!  And then the thunder and lightening rolled in.  It was a sodden last hour and I spent much of it trying to remember enough science to figure out if my hiking poles were likely to attract lightening.  If anyone knows, send me a message.

Finally made it to the Gite where I am sharing a two bunk room with a 70 year old solo hiker who has given me his excess muesli (yay – I have no pride, I will take free food :-)).  The hot shower restored my spirits, followed by two sandwiches, three pieces of fruit, a pack of Parma ham and some tea.

And then I had a mediocre dinner with spectacular company – some fellow female hikers – two retired groovsters from Hackney and a cool chick from Nice.  It was nice to finally see some women and also to speak english

Distance covered = 36km
Ascent/descent = 1965/2235

Time on feet = 8 hours (for the first time I came in at only 80% of the guidebook time versus my usual 60-70%)

Hiker boots drying in the sun

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