The first day of our mother-daughter trek was one for the books, little did we know things could get even more interesting than hitch hiking in France.
Day two was said to be the hardest by many other hikers. Partially because your body is still getting used to long days of physical effort, partially because it was covered in snow, and partially because it was just freaking hard. It was a 12 mile day of 4318ft of elevation gain, 3048ft of elevation loss, and 8 hours of hiking from Les Contamines to Les Chapieux. It was mentally and physically challenging, and I’m not sure i’ve ever cried and screamed profanities so much in one day in my entire life.
The day started out picturesque, it was sunny and we were ready to redeem ourselves from the day before. We were engulfed in green, crossing over rushing water and stumbling upon the most charming cows that walked straight out of a children’s book, cowbell and all.
Blisters were already forming and we had yet to reach the hardest part of our day. In front of us was the Col du Bonhomme. The Col of the Man. Col not even being the top, only the saddle between two peaks. Walking straight up a mountain that was ‘made for a man’, is hard enough, but when its covered in snow it is incredibly more strenuous. Good thing we had invested in some crampons specifically for this trip.
We followed the beaten path of footprints from our fellow hikers in front of us. I can’t say I was thinking of much while hiking. I was overwhelmed of what was in front of me, but not hopeless. As I followed the path I was counting my footsteps to ten. Honestly this was a reoccurring theme of the trip, counting steps. Lord knew that if I could count to ten and take ten steps, I could surely take ten more.
As excruciating as it was, as I reached the top I was greeted by iridescent rainbow clouds and instantaneously forgot about all the sweat it took for me to get there. We took a quick stop to catch our breath at the top in an obscure little hut before we set of for the La Croix du Bonhomme, the ‘real’ top. Only one more hour of the proclaimed hardest day, and the rest was all downhill from there. Literally.
Another hour of counting to ten. Thats all we had left. It was too late to turn back so we set forward, hiking on the side of a mountain in snow up to our knees at some points. If I had a dime for every time I counted to ten, surely I would have enough money that I could pay a helicopter to get dropped off at the top rather than walk up the side of a mountain. But boy, was it rewarding to reach the top.
Many hikers sat at the top of the La Croix du Bonhomme to catch their breath and take in the view. We briefly enjoyed the scenery and ate a celebratory Toblerone before heading down the other side of the mountain, taking refuge from the wind. There was just as much snow on this side of the mountain but that didn’t bother us one bit. We were so thrilled to have accomplished the hardest part of the day and we were practically sprinting down the other side. My only thought was getting down and eating a hot dinner.
It quickly went from running to sliding down the mountain on our butts as we passed other hikers. I’ve never had so much fun sledding without a sled in my entire life. Why the other hikers didn’t follow our lead? Not sure. We were letting our inner child free and it was a blast.
We were in such a hurry to get down the mountain that when the snow finally turned in to dirt, my mom still hadn’t taken her crampons off yet. We were moving at lightning speed practically racing along the edge of cliffs to the bottom. At one point behind me I heard my mom make an exclamatory yelp as she stumbled on rocks, fighting for traction with crampons still on her feet. I turned around whilst walking and warned my mom not to do that, took two more steps and suddenly my feet were in the air and my ass was on the ground and I knew instantly that our ten day excursion might be over, because I had just broken my wrist.
My mom, the angel she is, was instantly at my side feeding me ibuprofen and packing my wrist in ice as it hung in a makeshift sling. This is where the crying and a plethora of profanities began. Why me, why now, why here. It was only day two! I was infuriated, dismayed and defeated. But more than anything pissed off because I had only wanted a hot dinner.
Although we could see the bottom it was still a long three hours of crying and yelling. I was throwing a full blown, adult temper tantrum in disbelief that there was no way my mom would let us continue our trek after this casualty. She was already talking about how relaxing it would be to spend the rest of our Europe trip at a spa. I was disappointed that this could be it, that the last 8 days of hiking might have to wait until next time I was back in Europe AND I might have to eat dinner in a hospital. Ugh. When we finally got to Les Chapieux the only thing on my mind was still the horror of having to eat dinner in a hospital, so I scarfed down the fastest meal as Frenchmen came to the rescue again, this time not in a truck but in an ambulance. The EMT’s were skeptical it was broken because of the lack of swelling which made me second guess shedding all those tears when I was in desperate need of staying hydrated, but I was nearly positive. So we got in the ambulance and rode 30 minutes to the nearest town.
We arrived in this dinky little town right as the hospital was closing. A quick x-ray revealed yes it was indeed broken. The doctor mumbled hardly two words to me as a nurse came in and started setting a cast that went from my hand all the way to mid bicep. Seemed like a little bit of overkill for a broken wrist. We stayed in a hotel for the night and I’m sure I fell asleep arguing that I could finish the hike with one arm.