This post is a continuation of my series on hiking the Tour de Vanoise in France. This post follows the post “Our Last Night in the Alps at Refuge Peclet-Polset”. To read it, click here.
As I always like to say “All good things come to an end”. Today would be our last hike in Vanoise National Park in the French Alps. It had been a glorious hike with lots of spectacular views and over 800 sensational photos to prove it. Yet, I was really ready to get back to civilization and get a good night’s sleep!
Our final night in a mountain refuge was brutal. I had mentioned in my earlier post that this refuge was accessible via car for part of the way and then a short hike after the road ends. Unfortunately that meant the clientale was not the normal hikers who know and understand the protocol. Instead, it meant lots of day-trippers and families looking to experience the novelty of sleeping in a refuge in the mountains yet didn’t give a damn about the rest.
Our terrible night began around 10 pm when most of us tired hikers were already tucked inside our sleeping sacks in our bunks sound asleep. The room to our dorm burst open and a group of about 15 rowdy, misbehaved kids burst in sounding like a herd of wild animals. The lights came on, waking us out of our sleep (you go to sleep early in the mountains as you are exhausted after a long day of hiking!) and the onslaught of noise and goofing off began. After several failed attempts by the lackadaisical parents to get the kids to calm down, I finally had to burst out in my frustrated, angry French telling them pretty much to be quiet. It worked for about five minutes until I heard giggles and giggles bursting into laughter. Meanwhile the parents did nothing.
FInally an hour later, I yelled at them again. I don’t like to take over parenting someone else’s kids but as a parent myself and relatively grumpy by that point, I had to do it if anyone wanted any sleep. Thankfully they quieted down probably thinking I’m a big meanie. But at least we got some sleep, all forty of us.
Another unspoken rule inside the refuge is that the window inside the large rectangular room must be open at night, no matter how cold it is. Otherwise the room turns into a stinky, sweltering sauna.
The window was right next to my bunk (I chose it that way) and we had it open to start. Sometime during the night I awoke completely drenched in sweat. My hair was dripping wet, my blankets felt like they had been thrown in a lake and the air inside was like being in the tropics. I turned on my mini flashlight, glanced over through the soggy air and saw with dread that the window had been shut and was completely fogged up! How dare they!!!!
Annoyed, I crept out of my bunk, opened the window and placed my backpack against it so it couldn’t be shut without waking me. I left to use the loo and when I opened the door of our room to step out into the hall it was almost a 20 degree temperature difference!
Finally, around two or three am I fell back into a restless, hot night’s sleep. I was glad I’d have at least a few more hours of sleep before breakfast. But oh no….around five am the room came to life and the wild children woke up only to wake us all again. Lights flashed on, blankets flew and backpacks were emptied onto the floor. For the next twenty minutes or so they kept us awake and then thankfully left us in peace. I fell back to sleep hoping it would be the end of it but I was wrong. An hour later they stormed back in, waking us all again, to pack up their stuff and leave. Why on earth they didn’t do it the first time is beyond me. I guess they just wanted to make sure I’d never want to stay in a mountain refuge with forty strangers again. Grrrrrrr.
I was really ready to get back to civilization. Thoughts of a warm, toasty bed thrilled me. We had another gorgeous day in the Alps and a short four hour hike back to town with a brief stop at a traditional cheese factory. Then a shower all to myself, clean clothes and best of all, some peace!
Setting off…..au revoir refuge!