GR5 Samöens to Refuge Moëde Anterne

So, three days to write about. Where does the time go? It now seems like an age since I left Samoëns, my run beginning with the long hill back into town from my hotel. I ran this with a light step as I had checked my bank balance. I’d had one of those nights when I wake up thinking "Oh my God, I wonder if I have any money left?", the stash I brought with me from Saudi now being rather depleted. I’d checked my bank balance after breakfast and found it healthy, hence the spring in my step as I ran into Samöens. I stopped at the cash point, aware that the refuges I would be staying in over the course of the next week probably wouldn’t take credit cards. The machine decided not to give me any English (not a problem) nor any cash (a technical problem). I hate it when they do this; couldn’t they be more specific and say something like "Sorry, you requested a receipt and we are out of paper." Or "your bank thinks your card it being used by someone other than you, for although you have made several transactions abroad in the last few days, this one, where you have used your PIN number, looks suspicious, so they have decided to suspend your card. But don’t worry, if it is really you using your card it will only take ten working days to reactivate it. Until then, have a nice day."

With a rising feeling of panick I went to look for another machine, at the same time thinking how I would get hold of cash for the next few days. The ATM was much more accommodating, giving me both a choice of languages and cash. As the receipt popped out of the slot, I remembered that I had left my running poles by the last ATM at the other side of town; what chance of those still being there?

I should have more faith in human character, for although the town was already busy, someone had placed my expensive Leki poles in a prominent position at the side of the bank where I might find them on my return. Content once more I ran out of town. It was pleasant running along an easy dirt track through the woods and along a small river into the Gorges des Tines, out of which I had to climb by a series of steel ladders. It must be a spectacular place in a storm. But hyphen again, you would probably get washed away.

Leaving the valley behind I climbed steeply to the Cascade de Rouget, a rather splendid waterfall and a nice little restaurant, just as I was getting hungry. There were tourists everywhere, brought out by the spectacular weather. As I ran past I had to laugh at a father berating his son for wanting to stay in the car playing on his iPad, rather than get out and explore the countryside.

Climbing though steep woodland to the Collete d’Anterne I was surpassed by how many families were out walking. The weather was nice but the path was steep and rugged, and it was as humid as a sauna. I had to stand to one side whilst five guys on single wheeled chairs were conducted down the mountain by beefy helpers. Uncharitably I wonder if this was really worth the effort. There are plenty of nice places to see that don’t require this amount of effort, and judging from the expressions of the riders, there didn’t appear to be a lot going on in terms of appreciating the scenery or the adventure. Perhaps I was missing the point, and all the effort was really about making the volunteers feel good about themselves.

As I rounded the hill and reached Collete d’Anterne I was amazed. Towering above a green pasture was a spectacular line of huge cliffs (Pointe de Salles), blue in the mountain haze. They are so massive that I was unable to capture a photograph until I was several miles further on and whilst I watched a helicopter evacuate an injured scout.

A little further on the views just got better, with the stunning and almost unbelievable colours of Lac d’Anterne appearing ahead. With perfect mountain weather and a walk that is not too demanding if you take the full day over it, I could now understand why the paths were so busy. Remarkable scenery.

Another short climb took me to the Col d’Antern and another amazing view, this time over e Refuge Moëde Anterne and the mountains of the Brévent, Aguilles Rouge and Mont Blanc.

As I unpacked my bag at the Refuge dormitory I thought about all the pharmacists I had passed in the last few days and not bought earplugs. As I write this three days later, and having passed several more pharmacists and having suffered a sleepless snoring night, I still haven’t bough any. Pah.

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