|Col du Vallon, last day - view back on Lac de la Muzelle|
|Made it, safely! Col de l'Aup-Martin|
|A bit of a blister|
More problematic, right on the first day Merijn contracted huge blisters on both heels. We tried to treat and package them carefully. However, when we took the bandage off after four days, we found the one blister had grown into a complex cluster of multiple blisters. With a bigger bandage and new tape my tough wife managed to sustain the discomfort during the second half of the trek.
Most days, we camped at the camp sites in the stage village, or on a flat patch close to the refuge (La Muzelle) or gîte d'étape (Le Désert). The gîte communale in Le Désert deserves big thumbs-up, for the hospitable host, tasty cuisine, its Leffe on tap, and excellent facilities.
|Col de Vaurze, view on Le Desert|
At our first camp site in Le Monêtier we crossed paths with John from the UK for the first time, who at that time I still held for an Italian because of his compact physique and tanned face. It wasn't until we really met on the trail just below the Col de l'Aup-Martin two days later that we learned he was actually from England.
|Bivouac at Lac de la Muzelle, view on glacier|
|Very loyal butterfly|
When we walked the final kilometers to Bourg d'Oisans, although I was looking forward to a shower and a comfortable bed I was sad it was over. Over seven days I got used to life on the trail more and more, and where at the beginning I had felt some nervousness for what lay ahead, and which absorbed quite some energy, I finally felt ready to more fully enjoy it when in fact it was over. We had the easiest conditions, of course, with no rain, let alone snow, clear trails, no need to cross snow fields or use an ice axe. It doesn't mean there's no danger. In Le Desert we learned that two days before our passage a British hiker (female teacher of 52) was found dead on the trail to Col de Vaurze closeby. She had fallen 100 m, probably after tripping or sliding off the trail. And a few days before that, the lives of two frenchmen ended in a 20 m deep crevasse of the Glacier de la Muzelle. That's why I don't do mountaineering. The danger-reward balance doesn't work for me; I don't see the point of climbing to summits and don't get a kick out of adrenaline. I think I'll stick to hiking and venture into extremes if there are short exit routes. Make endorfine, not adrenaline.
Lastly, and counterintuitively I think, the trekking does get less boring over time (up to our seven days at least). No trail is the same. No stretch can be said to be typical for the Ecrins; there are many resolutions to choose from, and the trail and slopes, the conditions, and the views never cease to surprise.
|View on sea of clouds in the valley of the Drac de Champoléon|