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Published: February 24th 2012
I have moved further into the Rhône-Alps region and planted myself in what I assume would be considered the foothills of those enormous and somewhat daunting peaks. My village of choice, Annecy has the best of both worlds: slow flowing rivers crisscross the old town leaving old buildings to open right on the water and after losing yourself in the very medieval-feeling alleyways you exit back out into the sunlight right smackdab on the edge of a lake. You're at the head of a valley and further on to either side mountains rise, their tops covered in pure, untouched snow.
I chose to take advantage of the fine, sunny weather we've been having (currently no freakish storms) and took myself on a little hike up around the hills on the lake. Yes, me, the self-proclaimed city girl voluntarily took to the outdoors. You may insert your sarcasm here . The trail took me through a nature reserve, the path littered periodically with ice, snow, and squishy squishy mud. I had frequent views of the lake as I climbed higher and got lost in the silence of the forest, a silence I endeavored to NOT fill with creepy noises. Descending down
View from Annecy
the last stretch I inevitably slipped and fell and thus rode home with a nice brown swath across my rear end. Not surprisingly I had myself a beer when I got back into town.
Day two I decided rather at the last minute to go to Chamonix for the day because it seemed like the last of my sunny ones. And though I had heard of the comparison, I didn't actually think I'd find myself in a French Aspen but indeed this is exactly what it was. The city, which is larger than you'd think, lies in a narrow valley and the tallest peak, Mount Blanc rises far and above everything else. Gondolas whisk both adventurer and tourist alike up either side of the valley, costing merely an arm and a leg, and drop you off 12,00+ feet up with mighty fine views. The Alps and all their magnificence (for truly, this can't be denied) stretch out before you, valleys hidden beneath cotton candy clouds, summits rising like teeth.
The wind numbs your fingers as they try to snap photo after photo, none of them doing the view justice and the summit of Mount Blanc, a measly 3000
Le Lac, encore
View from the trail
feet higher up, taunts you as you make your way back down. I had planned to try my city legs at another hike down towards the glacier, but I don't think I wrapped my head around just how much snow there was that high up and my obvious lack of preparation was enough to deter me from my objective. Those who prefer the more dangerous descent could reach the bottom via skies, the backcountry "runs" accessed only by an icey switchback path marked off by a rather untrustworthy rope system. I saluted those brave souls and tucked myself safely away in the warm cafeteria with my coffee and fries. (For some reason the ski-lodge atmosphere always gives me a craving for that oh so delicious finger food, despite inflated prices.) In the lift going down they pack you in like spam (never had it, but supposedly its compact) and above the sounds of the electric wires grudgingly moving your collective weight along you can hear gasps tinged with unfeigned panic as the car sways out over the ledge. Just one snap, and it'd be a plummet.
Back down in Chamonix there is nothing for it but to prowl the
Le Lac, encore...encore
Another view from my hike
streets, gazing at merchandise you can't afford and savoring the bars that could care less how big your wallet is or whether 5 o'clock has come around. Signs are written in French, English, and Russian and more than once I swear I heard the dulcet tones of Colorado.
For my last day in Annecy I was hit hard and I must say unkindly by the cruel, evil creature we call the common cold. So here I am, sniffling and coughing, my raspy voice not so much seductive but more emphysemic. My social roommates at first wonder why I don't join in their games, but quickly inch away once I demonstrate one good, solid lung spasm. I am told the mind is a powerful thing and am thus trying to will the bacteria out of my body. Here's hopin...
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