Day 18, Rifugio i Re Magi

Day 18, Saturday Aug 27
Modane to Rifugio i Re Magi

What a day!

We didn’t split the day in half. We did what I thought would be too long; we walked past the full refuge to the next one.

We started the day late thinking it would be short. A very steep climb but by 11:00 were at the town where we planned to stay but it was a sunny day and too early to stop. Out came the guide books and yes it looked like we could do it. Phone calls to check that the next refuge had space and to cancel our previous reservations and off we went.

The best day of hiking so far. Such a treat to be back in the alpine. We didn’t like the valley. We did the valley walk because we are behind our schedule and because we thought two easy days might be a rest. But it wasn’t fun. Better to take the bus through the valley or to spend the time to walk the alpine option.

Today took us up 1500m in altitude, hard work, but it was a joy to cross the Col de la Vallée Étroite at 2450m and find ourselves in a different world. It is difficult to explain the effect that alpine landscape has on me, but it is a place I love. You can take photographs of it, but they are tokens; to experience it you must walk there, breathe the air, hear the birds and the wind and the streams and the silence, and let your eyes roam.

Tonight we are in Italy. Not really. We are in a part of France that was ceded to France by Italy at the end of WWII. It remains very Italian and the main road connection is to Italy. The phone service is through Italy and I had to call an Italian number to reach the refuge today. Excellent hospitality, a little disorganized in an Italian way that always works out with some laughter, an interesting bunch of people staying here, and good food.

Time for sleep.