Near the end of September 2015 I went on a long weekend to Chamonix by myself. I left home Friday morning with a 20 litre rucksack, wearing my walking boots, and ran off to the mountains for a few days.
The trip was done on quite a whim and I hadn’t really done much planning so I bought a mountain map in town, and scoured it over dinner, plotting where I would go. The forecast for the weekend was sunny and calm. I’d say my excitement for the next day delayed my sleeping almost as much as the foghorn snoring in the adjacent bunk. Lesson: paying that few extra € for a private room can be worth it.
I rose early, and after filling my backpack with madeleines from the breakfast bar (don’t judge me), headed outside. The trails around Chamonix are very well signed, and give distances in time rather than km or miles. The hardest part was finding the start of them from town.
I spent my days simply: hiking up the mountain paths, pausing for a chocolat chaud at a mountain hut, traversing below the snow-line, resting for a madeleine break and taking in the stunning vistas, wandering further, before eventually descending via cable car.
I promised myself I would do more of these trips – the ease of getting there and the relative inexpense paired with the freedom and joy it brought made a very convincing argument.
On Monday I headed further along the Chamonix valley and took the winding trail up the mountain. I started out even earlier than on the weekend, and for a few hours didn’t see another soul on the trail.
Reaching the top mountain path, I came across two men moving tables outside a chalet: “Bonjour”
“Puis-je remplir ma bouteille ici, s’il vous plait?” -holding up my empty water bottle.
The men looked at each other, then at their glasses.
“Nous avons vin”.
And that is how I came to share a bottle of wine with Guillame and Christophe at 10am on a Monday morning half way up a mountain.