Monday 13 October.
We started off with our rain jackets on this morning as there were a few spots of rain. We were hoping it was going to clear up but by the time we reached the supermarket at the station it had got heavier. After Mooira did some shopping there we put on our waterproof trousers. We had booked into a gite at Bourg Saint-Pierre on the Internet, it had a kitchen but there weren't any shops in the village so we were making sure we had something for dinner with us. There was supposed to be a couple of shops on Liddes halfway along today's route and we would hopefully pick up some wine there. The rain was on and off all morning but never got exceptionally heavy, not like Scottish rain.
When we left Orsieres all the shops were opening after their day of rest yesterday, but being Monday they will have a half day today. The route we took via the station was a roundabout way to get back onto the road just above where our hotel had been. Once out of town we picked up a wide gravel track that continued to go up and up. It was a steady climb not too steep and we were able to maintain a good pace. It was amazing how quickly you gain height and looking back on Orsieres in the valley it was now a collection of tiny houses.
Soon the track levelled out as we reached a small mountain village of Montatuay. At the end of the village Cicerone said to turn up the hill into the woods but the signpost for the VF pointed left downhill. We followed the VF waymarks and it was annoying that after all the climbing the path now went down steeply. At the bottom it crossed over the river Dranse and began to climb again along the other side of the river. It was gradual at first but then we came to a dead end. We had missed a turning that led to a narrow path that went straight up the side of the hill. It was a tough scramble and when we reached the top it was to recross the river.
We found a small supermarket there and got a bottle of plonk, some yoghurt and a packet of Uncle Ben's risotto which past its 'best before date' and cheap. My pack was feeling OK and I reckoned I could carry the extra, the wine just replaced the water I had in the water bottles. There was a fountain near the shop and we stopped there while I made a cup of tea which we had with a biscuit. The rain had eased off and I replaced my jacket with my fleece but no sooner had we started again but so did the rain, so It was a stop to change back. Up ahead and where we were going there two large peaks both covered in snow, I was hoping it was old snow that hadn't melted and not a fresh fall. The scenery was glorious as the trail made its way up the valley between towering mountains. Near the bottom the grass was emerald green, then the woods of conifers started and above the tree line rocky crags leading to jagged peaks.
We were on a tarred lane then a gravel track as the climbing continued. Below us was a dam, a barrage for the waters of the Dranse and then we passed the tiny village of Palasui.
The incline was relentless but we had a breather when we stopped to photograph some deer behind a fence. They seemed friendly and were happy to pose for the camera. At the top of this initial climb we reached a minor road then onto a grassy path that went along the top of a tunnel where the main road emerged below. Next it was up a ski slope following the pylons of the ski lift to meet a track that led into Bourg Saint-Pierre.
This was a winter ski resort and it had lots of hotels and places to stay. We were in the Maison Saint-Pierre and had the usual difficult job finding it. It was on Rue de l'Eglise, so it was near the church. We headed for the big steeple but none of the streets had names. When we reached the church Moira got out her iPad and we looked at the map, it showed where we were but not any of the street names either. We were going to find somebody to ask when I spotted it behind the church. When we got there it was open but nobody in charge was about. Moira had a wander upstairs and found Carlos who was staying there as well, in the dorm. He said you had to phone the owner to tell them when you had arrived, he did this for us and we were allocated a room over the phone. We had no doubt somebody would arrive later for the money.
After getting out of our wet gear and changed we inspected the kitchen. It had everything we needed and Moira got started making soup from a packet. She offered Carlos some but he had already eaten. Carlos had managed to contact somebody at the church last night in Orsieres. There were mattresses on the floor in the church hall but there was only cold water in the showers; they charged him 8 francs. Once lunch was over and I had washed up we had a shower there was only one knob for the water, fortunately it was hot. We washed our clothes at the same time. There were lots of electric radiators about the place and we hung our washing around one to dry. It was raining again outside and it was getting cold. We stayed in our room, under a duvet with a heater on, reading.
While Moira was preparing dinner the guy arrived for his money. He was very friendly, he chatted to Carlos and then tried out his English with us. He didn't have a stamp for our credentials and wrote something instead. It cost 50 francs for the night, another cheap night. We had pork chops, vegetables and Uncle Ben's risotto rice for dinner. It was very nice. After washing up we got back into bed where it was lovely and warm. I was soon asleep, the climb today was very tiring and I'm not getting any younger.