Into the Heart of the Alps

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Survivors Are My Motivation, July 5, 2011

Stage 7, D57 (St Sauveur-sur-Tinee à Refuge de Longon)

6.94 miles, 4,753’ up, 164' down

Go to this map and hover over the triangles to see where the stage we just completed is relative to the entire trail.  (The stage beginning and end locations are probably backwards, as we are doing the trail in the opposite direction.)

Today was a long day (7+ hours) and virtually all up (4700' up, but who's counting?!). I had a lot of time to think of those who inspire me with their courage and ability to overcome great odds. Thought a lot about other AFib survivors and two friends who have just completed extensive cancer treatments (yes you, Bonnie and Mary). Also felt much gratitude for the blog readers who have posted comments (emails are welcome, too! intoTheHeartOfTheAlps@gmail.com). Funny how survivors and trekking put things in perspective - no benefit to having great angst about the long haul, putting one foot in front of the other (taking each step of treatment) and taking each breath is what gets you to the end of the stage, every time.

Roure
Town of Roure, site of our "second breakfast."

Today's path was a beautiful trail through pine forests and flower-filled meadows, looking across huge ravines to snow-residued higher peaks. Just as I was about thinking the up would never end, a flock of sheep and goats (with dogs and silent shepherd) came clinkeling over the top (lots of bells) and covered the entire trail as they passed.  Several of the goats were very inquisitive, trying to give Bob and me kisses. That lifted my spirits and kept me going to Refuge de Longon.

The refuge is a long stone building set in the most beautiful mountain meadow you can imagine, with marmots scurrying on the higher slopes, wolves howling even higher up, and cows/goats/sheep for the on-site fromagerie (cheese-making facility) wandering around being herded away from the human guests by dogs. Oh, and flowers everywhere.
Longon 
Refuge de Longon

We were the first of the evening's guests to arrive in mid-afternoon (can you imagine?!) and spent leisurely hours actually reading books. Other hikers arrived over the course of the afternoon - mostly middle-aged French couples. Their routine was to pick out which mattress on the floor they would inhabit for the night (dorm room style again); take a COLD shower, dress quickly, and come outside to warm up in the sun; wash the day's clothing in the trough of running cold water outside the building, and hang them up to dry on any available hanging space; then order something to drink and chatter away while waiting for the evening's meal. Dinner was served family style, with appetizers (baked strips of polenta-style dough) and aperitif (rose wine) served outside, the rest of the meal (plenty of hearty food, no vegetables) served at long wooden tables inside. No-one, including the refuge hosts, knew the name of the dessert, which was the cream that separates from the milk "fermented" for 24 hours - yum!

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