Heading off.

The BIG hike day

Nice trees in the beginning
Looking a little rocky.

So today was touted as the longest and hardest of this trip . . Mind you – yesterday was pretty darn hard . . .  😀.    We started out around 8:45.   The plan was to make lunch from the breakfast offerings .  However, it wasn’t long before we realized that this plan was not going to work.  Breakfast was coffee, OJ, one croissant, and a piece of bread.  Period!    Yikes . .  No holding power there.    So we had discovered a tiny campers grocery store at the end of the hotel and I headed over there.  There was slim pickings. . . Although freshly baked bread was front and center.   Ham, a tomato, some cheese and we were set to go!   😀.  Made sandwiches in our room and headed off – along the road at first . .   

Impediments along the way
How about this group shot?

It wasn’t long before we turned off onto a well worn path . . Through the pine trees for a stretch and then smack into the rocks!   These rocks accompanied us for most of the days hike . ..     sometimes smallish, often times large and bouldery.     There was a very steep downhill stretch through the huge rocks.   At one point, you had to hold on to the chain so you’d not fall off the edge!  🤔.    This was not easy going.    You had to watch your footing constantly and make sure you were properly balanced . . .  Jojo was wondering if this was really an appropriate hike for a 75 year old . . .  😀.   I was careful and spent most of the time bringing up the rear . .  I like it back there!   

Jojo holds on tight. It’s step here!
It looks like D is sitting – but he’s actually squeezing through this space . . 😳

Funny – it seems that we have a pretty routine grouping of hikers.   Tom is always in the lead!   😀.  This probably does not surprise anyone who knows Tom!     Then comes Carol and Karl (the youngsters).    Dave or Colette go next – depending upon which pictures the D is working on.  Jojo brings up the rear!   I actually like not feeling like I have to rush . . .   And I am pretty slow on the uphills.    It’s all fine! . .    😜

Hard to believe we’re really here!
Just WOW!

Once we finished the steep downhill over the big rocky trail, we headed up – more large rocks.  Sometimes just plain rocks.  Sometimes boulders.  You would come to cherish anytime there was dirt on the trail . .  😀.   The scenery was so amazing.  Huge mountains.  Everywhere.   Bright blue sky.  Low 70s with a nice cooling breeze.  I was feeling so blessed to be still able to get myself to these incredible places . .   Which made me even more careful!   🤔.     

More Wow!
Heading toward the refuge.

Finally, we reached the spot where you could see the refuge.   Many people stay here along the big GR 20 route.  It’s a place to relax, eat your picnic lunch, get more water, have a beer . . Whatever suits your fancy.   However – in order to get to this lovely refuge, you had to crisscross a very steep hill – switchbacks.   Once you reached the top, it was a 35 minute hike along the ridge line to the refuge.    It was past noon and we were hungry.  Not sure we really wanted to add a couple more hours to our day .  The only problem was that Tom was well on his way.   🤔.    No cell service.  No way to let him know we weren’t following him . . .

Don’t you wish you were having lunch here?       😀
An artistic shot . . .

So we figured – Tom was a big boy.  He’d figure it out when we never arrived . .   We did ask some other hikers to let him know we’d headed back – if they ran into him . . .

Lots and lots of rocks!

We headed back down that rocky trail until we reached a lovely lunch spot – a little pond where we could soak our feet and relax with our yummy sandwiches!   

Heading out . . .

And then it was book it back . . Over more rocky trails, an occasional dirt track, up and over another big hill – until we reached the road.   It was a good half an hour on the road . . But oh well . . .   Back home around 3:30.   Time for a nice cool beer!

This waterfall was beautiful!                                                             So beautiful that a young couple was having sex right below it on a nice smooth flat rock!          🤔   😀    😳

Around 10 miles.     (But hard miles!).    23,000 steps.     

Tom’s picture from way up high on the ridge.                                                                                                   He’s the only one who actually saw this vista! 😀

An update on Tom.    We did worry a bit about Tom.  This was rugged country.  Not the safest place to hike alone.  Also there were lots of divergent trails taking you to different places . . . Tom did make it back – around 5:00.  He was also concerned.   Mostly about getting lost.    His directions had fallen out of his pocket along the way and so he was relying on his phone for navigation.   If his phone ran out of juice – he would be in major trouble . .     He did have enough water and food.   But – he was able to find his way back – down over a cliff (he followed some young hikers here) and along several different trails.  Got lost once.   Ended up walking back to the hotel along the road .   He assures us that he will look back for his buddies more often and perhaps not get so far ahead . .   We’ll see!    😀😳

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