Sil: We ate yoghurt and fruit for breakfast at the campsite picnic tables before setting off – luckily a fairly straightforward exit, past a Roman Amphitheatre. Yesterday was a long 10 hours slog along flat paths next to the river. Today was a baptism of fire! After just 1.4km the signs sent us straight up the mountain side on hiking paths similar to Monks Cowl - only steeper. Walking on forest paths was ok but the higher we climbed the rockier the path became. In places we were on loose scree and shale, clambering over landslide boulders and across stone pits and torrent courses. I got jelly legs climbing up and trembling legs coming down. I suffered bouts of vertigo (I definitely do not have a head for heights). At one stage we were perched on a narrow, sloping ledge above a precipice with chains bolted onto the left rock face and a 1500m drop into the riverine below. I almost froze but knew that we couldn’t go back and forced myself to put one foot in front of the other. Here the path was a switch back descent - so steep that you had to shuffle your feet to face the new direction down hill. Rayna and I really battled with Kathy and Val providing front and back support. When we finally reached Bovernier Rayna said that she could not go on. The thought of more paths and heights like these was too much. Her feet were “Vrot” - swollen and toes blistered. So she caught the St Bernard Express to our overnight stop. We gave her some of the heavier items from our packs to take to the hotel and although we had to cross an unstable patch of landslide shale and a few hairy rock pits, it was easier going after that.
We were all so thrilled to see the La Catogne Gite below us through the trees at La Dohay that we shrieked “Yee-Haaa”. Very comfortable accommodation and as we planned on leaving early in the morning we arranged for our landlord to make sandwiches for us to take with us.
Marion: I enjoyed yesterday as it was so exciting but at the same time thought it was a long slog along the flat paths and at the end of 10 hours I was quite exhausted. At the end of today I was again exhausted as it was a tough day “BUT” I so enjoyed the terrain of walking on the mountain side, through some forests and sometimes even scrambling over boulders – it was my kind of walking. It felt very much like hiking in the Silvermine Mountains but a lot tougher.
I loved seeing all the flowers and greenery all around us. At times it was quite scary to look down the steep slope and see the river raging so far below us. I was very lucky that at the end of the day had no aches or pains. Kathy and Silvia had an unfortunate experience of being stung by stinging nettles.
Val: Highlights today - lunch break at the "local bar" - the locals enjoyed us and we had a photo with them - tiny hamlets of 6-10 dwellings - I expected "Heidi" to come out yodeling at any moment! Discovering the map was wrong and our accommodation was around the corner and not an hour away and they had a restaurant and a bar!
Being Sunday we were unable to get lunch or buy any food for the evening - a special experience today and an achievement having climbed a difficult 400m but tomorrow 1600m to get to the top. Good restaurant so I chose the fillet of duck with berry sauce R160 well cooked and Rayna and I shared a bottle of local red L'Dole R75.
Kathy: Decided the 3 mountain goat ups and downs, first to Bovernier and then Sembrancher and then again to La Douay were like Van Hennigings Pass at Injasuti and Tugela River Gorge, steep, rocky etc but with the slippery scree-rock and the raging river below. Been there, done that...so.....where's the T shirt? Am well. Enjoyed the off road and serious hill work. Kathy’s a mountain goat! Lucky no rain though because if the paths had been wet we would have had a REALLY scary, difficult and treacherous walk...
Rayna: Aside from the "frotted" feet, the narrow, steep paths, with almost vertical drops to the Drankse River was more than I could handle. The beer and grub at lunchtime was far more welcoming.