Above the Clouds

Kim Pham Issue: Section:

"And then, as we passed the last valley, we saw it"

This was a big family trip. 3 adults and 5 children, from 1 to 13 years old. The baby may have been the youngest that ever traveled to the cabin!
We left Lausanne at 9 am and arrived at Bourg Saint-Pierre 2 hours later,  a small village in the same valley as the Grand Saint Bernard, where the rescue dogs come from. The Italian border was very close, as well as the Mont Blanc, which is the highest summit in Europe. (the Mont Blanc is half french, half italian).

We parked our car and off we climbed, the youngest ones in a back pack, the oldest ones not sure what to expect. The hike can be done in 3 hours for strong hikers. We first started to walk on a small dirt road that would eventually lead us to the cabin high above. We passed many Marmot, a playful animal similar to the American prairie dog that greeted us with a whistling sound and an attentive look. Trying to spot and count them was a funny game for the children that distracted them from just walking. After an hour we stopped for a lunch break and then didn't stop again. There were a lot of cows on the path, which can be a little scary when they start to walk toward you. As we climbed, the landscape changed, becoming more arid and suddenly we realized that we were above the tree line. The landscape was still very green, mostly grass and wild flowers and small bushes. Gone were the pine trees and other signs of lower elevation. We crossed few onrush (small mountain rivers, very cold and very fast). Sometimes there was a bridge, sometimes we had to walk on rocks that had been placed for our aid.
After hours there was still no view of the cabin.

And then, as we passed the last valley, we saw it; this tiny point that looked like a big stone out cropping perched high on a rocky mountain! It seemed so high and so far away still. But it was so beautiful. We left the pasture and the cows below. On the left there was the end of the tongue of a glacier. A hundred years ago, the ice would go all the way to the bottom but now only the top is covered by ice in the summer. The rest is only grey rock, which makes for quite a moonesque view.
We kept climbing on the very rocky and steep path. There were beautiful wild flowers and succulent plants in between the rocks. We didn't see the cabin anymore because we were at the bottom of the last stretch.
And there it was again only so much bigger and more impressive! Amazingly cool. In metal and modern but seamlessly  blending into the landscape. 5 hours later and we had made it! We were greeted by the cabin keeper, a very friendly woman. She showed us the place and explained that the cabin had been built in 1992. It is 100% powered by 12 solar panels. There's a big water tank for water. The food gets delivered by helicopter once a week. The cabin is also opened in winter for ski with seal skin (you put a skin, fake now mercifully, under your ski so you can climb a slope without slipping because the hair goes in the wrong direction.)
The cabin can host about 30 people, in 5 very comfortable dormitories. There is a main room where everybody hangs out and a corner for the children with toys. The cabin lady cooked for us some delicious spaghettis, salads and amazing tarts made with local apricots and cooked red vine. (a Swiss specialty).
After dinner, we climbed even higher to watch the sunset. There was a sea of clouds below, blue sky above on the white summits. Awe inspiring..
After a good night of sleep, the cabin lady served us a nice breakfast and we began our descent. It was snowing! Of course, going down is much faster, so 2 1/2 hours later we arrived at the car. Very hard on the knees and legs though.
We decided then to go to a hot spring swimming pool in another village not too far away. http://www.thermalp.ch
After such a long hike, to the moon and back in 24 hours, relaxing in this pool at 104 F is just perfect.

All content © original author. If you feel there may have been a mistake, please contact us.