We reached our last refuge for the trip, the Refuge Peclet-Polset around mid-afternoon. It was another stellar day awash in brilliant sunlight and perfect temperatures. We had heard from our guide Mark that this refuge was relatively new and “modern” as the old one had burned down. By the looks of it, modern meant ugly. It was poorly designed and felt like a shoe box inside with paper-thin walls, no ambiance or quaintness like the other, older refuges and many people. As we entered the refuge to get our bed assignments I thought to myself “Here we go again. Another night of no sleep”.
So what did we do? Celebrate and have a good time!
After a delicious, refreshing beer (for it sure tastes great after a long day of hiking!), it was time to call home and check-in with the family. At every refuge, I was able to find cell phone coverage but at this one, you had to work to find it. The only place that offered coverage was a short five minute hike up to the edge of the mountain. I slipped on my sandals and walked up to make the call home.
Here’s the view…
I patiently waited my turn for the Frenchman to finish and took my spot to place the call.
The refuge wasn’t nice at all but did have some stunning views of the mountains and like most refuges, it was loaded with Buddhist prayer flags which always make me smile. I had to go a little crazy and take a ton of photos of the sunlight bouncing off the colorful prayer flags reminded me of my wonderful trip to Nepal two years ago. (Since I love prayer flags so much, I couldn’t leave any of these photos out!).
It was nearing four o’clock and getting late for a shower. I knew the queue would be getting long so I grabbed my “jeton” and headed up. I noticed there was already perhaps four or five people in line but wasn’t concerned. The bathroom had at least two showers. It turned out that only one shower was working in the entire refuge for over 100 people! I thankfully got my shower in but when I returned hours later there was still a long queue. So much for the “modern” refuge!
After a hot shower, it was time to have some Vin de Savoie. I had grown to love this delicious, mouth-quenching wine. It is velvety-smooth and goes down a little too easy. But we only had two nights left in France…
Another pleasure was that we were finally able to get rid of all our leftover lunches we were carrying for days in our packs. Most refuges are carry in, carry-out, meaning you are not allowed to throw any trash away. However, this refuge had a group of hungry, fat chickens who devoured our leftover lentils and couscous from two days before.
The view continued to take my breath away. There is something about the mountains that will always captive and inspire me.
Dinner was served family style and the refuge was packed. It is a popular place for families to make an easy day trip and spend the night to get a taste of the mountains. That meant a lot and lot of children.
After dinner it was the “genipe” time again. Genipe is a traditional liquor found only in this region of France and is known as the local drink of Savoie. I took one small taste of it and couldn’t stomach it. But our guide Mark thoroughly enjoyed it!
As the sun began to set, the entire refuge came alive with people celebrating and drinking genipe. It was a festive atmosphere but I secretly began to wonder and dread how the night’s sleep would be. I was exhausted yet our room of 40 was packed and filled with a group of young children, a first on our trip. Hmmm….this was going to be interesting!
Or would it be another rough night in a French Alpine refuge?