85 miles. 7 days. 3 countries. 🇫🇷 🇨🇭 🇮🇹
Besides a couple cruises to popular Mediterranean port destinations, this trek was my first true European experience. I was a little out of my element not knowing any French, as up until this time I had strictly stayed in the Caribbean or South America due to quick & cheap flights plus being able to get by conversing in Spanish.
Chamonix was a quaint and beautiful town to launch this week long trek through 3 countries. The ascents were epic and exhausting, but doable and downright breathtaking around every bend. Our travel group was fantastic and ready for the challenge.
I remember arriving with 2 bags and had to pair down to one day bag, as unlike previous trips, there were no porters or sherpas to lug our extras up the mountain ahead of us to our next lodging site. What?! This was before vacuum bags or cubes so we rolled everything, hung extras off of the bag’s outer straps with carabeeners and strapped the rest on our waists. It was rugged and wonderful.
We crossed over country lines high up in the mountain ranges, trekking through rain and sleet for a few hours, and it was so empowering. It was so very Sound of Music-esqe. I will admit to twirling and singing at the top of my lungs to mimic my hero Julie Andrews.
Each lodge was local owned and the family always had a spectacular 3 course meal waiting on us hungry trekkers upon arrival. We typically would have the afternoon to recover and spend outside enjoying the lush, 360 degree, green landscapes. We would play cards or read books or both. The rooms had bunk beds and we crashed early, as we were up at 6am daily to tackle the next leg.
I even remember one day I was so inspired that I joined 2 others in the group for an extra afternoon run. What was I thinking? These 2 young-ins took off and of course a portion was uphill, but I held my own and was proud of myself for making the most of this once in a lifetime experience.
And I found “my spot” – laying down in the green pasture overlooking the last valley down on our trip back to civilization, I had found complete happiness and relaxation.
I stayed a few days after the group to honestly just do nothing. After a few short treks to the outskirts of town and indulging in pistachio gelato multiple times, I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book next to the ancient church under a beautiful tree. It can be that simple.
I guess the powers at be knew I wasn’t ready to go home yet, and my flight was actually cancelled because they couldn’t get the commode to flush. Yep you read that right. At first I started freaking out that I needed to return to work after my 10 day hiatus in the middle of the summer rush, but let’s put this into perspective….. I got free lodging in the exquisite Swiss countryside, got to run along beautiful farmlands, comped all the pizza and wine we could handle, plus a stipend.
Yeah I lived it up and showed up to work 2 days late, and guess what, the building hadn’t burned down.