Sunday, 27 July 2014

A wet July in the Alps

Back to the Alps for me and so far I have worked 3 groups. In 17 days I have worn full waterproofs for all or part of 15 days!!! Never before has this happened, my suntan has disappeared, I am pale as a Brit! Normally we expect maybe one bad day during a week-long trek, and even then I might get away with just putting on my rain jacket, not those horrid clinging sweaty and most unattractive rainpants. But not this year.
However, there have been some excellent sunny moments too, sometimes a whole half day and each trip has had sunshine where it was needed most, for the best views.

Everyone in my groups has taken the rain better than me, I am clearly just a wimp! And the flowers are truly fabulous this year. Wildlife has also been in abundance which is often the upside of bad weather.


My first group came for flower spotting and we spotted many. It was nice to start the summer season in such a relaxing manner with no big days, just strolling along taking it all in. Next up was the Tour of Mont Blanc with a group of 8 from the UK, USA and Australia. Everyone got along famously and despite the knee deep mud on one day, the moral remained pretty high as we made our way around this stunning and spectacular circuit. We were happy to be going backwards as it were - my preferred direction - as the trek was quite busy.

This last week saw me over in the Italian Gran Paradiso, a region I haven't been to for a few years. It was great to renew friendships with hut gardiens, and to remind myself how wild and remote this alpine area is. We often found ourselves alone on the trail for long periods of time which was wonderful even if it was pouring with rain. The finale of the trek was a clear sunny early morning hike up to a high lake where ibex were our only companions, with far reaching views not only of the surrounding peaks but also our previous day's high pass and route down.

This summer is a time of reflection in a way for me. No longer living in the Alps makes it a little more difficult for me to work there as my commute has just got a whole lot longer. That's not really a problem for me as I quite like driving, but these holiday weekends are really a nightmare on the roads. So logistically things are getting complicated. However, I have come up with a cunning plan for next year. My trips will no longer be Saturday to Saturday. I will begin trips either on the Sunday evening or even mid-week. In my recent experience it seems people no longer need to take a week from Saturday to Saturday - the TMB this year met on the Tuesday evening and filled easily. People often tag on a day or two either end of a trek anyway. This will make my commute easier and also allow people to take cheaper flights to and from the trip. A winner all round!

Next up is the Tour of Monte Rosa trek which will also be an opportunity to update my guidebook to that route which has sold out. Just hope everyone coming has bought their Trekking in the Alps and Provence T shirts to liven up my photos. Helen has as you can see here:

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