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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 46.1351, 7.62589
Sean checking in as we continue our writer rotation.
This morning we continued our route adjustment due to the less than ideal weather situation with the plan of leaving our previous Val locations and moving on to the Val de Anniviers. We awoke in Martigny to more pleasant weather with broken sunshine and no rain. First, we settled up at the Midi Guesthouse, stopped by the Coop to grab a simple breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and hard eggs, and then worked our way to the train station for the next leg of our journey to Grimentz and Zinal.
We boarded the train at 9:15 and headed east to Sierre/Siders to catch a bus. The countryside flashing by the window showed vineyards rising to unimaginable heights on the rock faces of the surrounding mountains. It was a quick 30 minute ride, and deposited us at a station where we had another challenge of figuring out the bus system. We missed our quickest connection, but learned of another leaving in 1.5 hours, so Erin, Mary, and I took time to walk around the city and see some of the old homes, churches, and castles.
Once on the bus, we started an unbelievably steep ascent
up a narrow, curvy mountain road where the turning bus seemed to suspend itself above a 1,000 ft vertical drop as it made switchback after switchback. In fact, at blind corners the driver would hit a loud melodic horn to alert any drivers coming down the mountain to avoid a collision. The old German tourists around us would start and gasp each time the horn would sound seemingly certain it signaled pending catastrophe.
After about an hour of driving and one bus transfer, we arrived in the picturesque village of Grimentz. We spent 1.5 hours walking through the old cobbled streets enjoying the uniqueness of the sun-darkened wood and the beauty of the surrounding mountains and valley. It was afternoon siesta time for many of the shops and dining establishments, so we just enjoyed the sites and nibbled on our pack along goods as fits of rain passed through.
To get back on the Haute Route and start the next day in a good location, we decided to hike on to Zinal. Our trusty hiking signs indicated it was a little more than two hours away and we set off under some passing showers. As you can imagine, all of the moisture
here is an ideal environment for slugs and snails so it quickly became a joke to watch out for them. Sadly, I cannot say we missed them all and there were a few casualties.
The hike worked mainly through forest with limited views, and we quickly learned how signifcant the terrain was with steep uphills and limited switchbacks. All in all, the hike ended up taking us over 3 hours though we did take some different paths from the quickest route. Once we entered Zinal and found the Alpina, we checked in and asked for dinner along with our dormitory style beds. This likely proved to be the best choice of the day as we were treated to a three course meal of salad, cheesy pasta, and a mousse-like dessert that tasted devine after working up an appetite. And, to wash it down, Aaron and I both enjoyed a 5 deci-liter (think large beer stein for those unfamiliar with the metric system) Cardinal beer - Supberb! Now, it is into our bunks to rest up for a long day of hiking tomorrow.
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