/ˈzēˌrō/
(noun)
  1. No quantity or number; naught; the figure 0.
  2. A day in which no miles are hiked.

Au revoir!

written Aug 19, 2019 @ 08:30 PM after hiking 15.60 miles

So yeah, I screwed up with that campsite last night. Thankfully nothing fatal (obviously) but it's not a mistake I'll make again. Around 11pm, the rain started; a lovely pitter-patter on the tent. Around 11:15pm I saw (through my closed eyelids) the first lightning. I instinctively started counting until I heard the (thankfully distant) thunder -- 25 seconds. Then I saw another lightning flash and did the same thing -- another 25 seconds. A few minutes later, there was a very bright flash, and we were down to 8 seconds. Uh-oh, this means the storm (which was a hellacious downpour by now) is just a few miles away -- essentially right on top of me. I weighed my options:

  1. shove everything in my pack (getting everything soaked in the process), put on my headlamp, and start hiking down a steep downhill in a ferocious thunderstorm;
  2. wait and hope I don't get struck -- it was only one bolt after all ..

I chose (2) and decided to ride this out. The next bolt was ten seconds away, then twenty, then forty, then I was unable to hear the corresponding thunder. Phew, this thunderhead must've been moving quickly. (By now the rain had slackened back to a steady drizzle)

When I got up a few hours later, everything was wet. Not from the rain directly, but because I was basically inside the raincloud. And, based on the skies, it didn't look like I'd have a chance to dry anything today. Barf.

Oh well, let's start this big downhill hike.

This is as clear of a picture as I could get.

Everything was completely muddy and super slippery. Even if my shoes and socks had been dry when I put them on (they weren't), they would've been saturated within minutes (they were). This can't be good for my foot but hey maybe I'll get a break?

The trail passed lots of old mining gear, which was neat to see and hard to photograph because of the clouds and persistent wetness.

Like this .. thing?

Eventually I broke out the bottom of the clouds and arrived at the village at the bottom of the valley. I'll be honest: I'm only calling it a village because that's what they call it -- I would call it five houses sitting next to each other with no clear purpose.

It was cute though

After a quick lunch of crabapples (I found a tree) and M&Ms (peanut), I began the 1,100-meter climb up the valley on the opposite side. This trail had clearly been hammered by the storm last night, too: it was wet and muddy and slippery.

Yay

This wouldn't be so bad if I got to enjoy the rewards of hiking mountains: seeing something. But alas, not today.

View from the very top, where I had lunch round 2

After a disappointing summit view, I began the equally-long (1000+-meter) descent down the other side, which was even more muddy and more slippery because there was less vegetation on that side for some reason.

Just like this morning's descent, I eventually broke through the bottom of the clouds and had relative .. dryness? Almost? That's a stretch, but I wasn't getting actively soaked anymore. I could shed my rain jacket, at any rate.

The French side is so lush and green!

At the nadir of the valley, I reached a literal fork in the road:

Which way to go?

Taking the right-hand trail takes me back up another 1,200 meters, along the GR10.

Taking the left-hand trail takes me down, to a road, which takes me to a town with a hotel and a market.

I went left.

Yay, lots and lots of road walking

This was a very quiet country road, so getting a hitch anywhere was going to be almost impossible for quite some time. However, I made some more be friends!

Cluck cluck cluck

When I made the decision to go left, it was not just for resupply reasons: I was also looking for a train station. I had made up my mind: I'm calling it quits on this particular hike for now. Between my foot getting worse and worse, and the forecast indicating another few consecutive days of rain, I realized that I just wasn't having a good time (which is the whole reason I was out there in the first place).

The guidebook had warned that August was the driest month and that creeks would be empty and springs would be dry, but I had the opposite experience. Very odd.

Anyway, I'm super happy that I went! I saw amazing things (on clear days ;-) ), hung out with an awesome friend (Crash is continuing on), and -- aside from the skin on my foot falling apart -- didn't have any physical troubles. I'm very excited to see that I've apparently still got it, and I'm looking forward to my next adventure!

(That next adventure might be picking up this very trail where I left off -- or at least where I want to see repeats again!)