July 8—Day 21: Samoëns
This was a long, long day, but really enjoyable, and finished with some of the best views I’ve ever seen.
I woke early, even before my alarm went off, which is nice. I was still in the forest and the trail was excellent, climbing a bit then dropping down on a gravel track. It followed along a river a ways, and was really nice walking. I passed a big waterfall, Cascade de Rouget, that was spraying water all over like rain.
A few quite steep but short climbs shortcut the switchbacks of a road and brought me into another forest. It was a pretty popular spot for day hikers and groups, and the path was even a bit crowded at times. The trail climbed the whole way, opening up a few times to great views across the valley back toward Samoëns, then passing a pair of waterfalls; a rainbow hung in the mist. A guide asked me about my trip and seemed impressed when I told him I was heading all the way to Menton, so that was a nice boost.
I kept climbing, planning to have lunch at the Colette du Anterne, a lower pass before the real col. Boy did it take a long time even to get to that point, and I was really hungry when I finally reached the clearing. I saw a better spot by a river a little ways ahead so I grabbed a snack and hiked another kilometer or two down to the Ruisseau d’Anterne, a beautiful little mountain river (I could see the water melting right off the glacier!) I thought I might try another river swim, but when I stepped in my feet pretty much went numb right away. I tried a few times but couldn’t bring myself to go under, so I just washed my clothes and hung them on my line to dry.
I took a long break for lunch, tired from the climb and just enjoying laying in the sun. Later on I passed Chalets d’Anterne and Refuge Alfred Wills, where there was a small museum. I guess he was the founder of the Alpine Club and had built a shelter in the mid-1800s that had been destroyed in the war. The rebuilt shelter was named after him.
After the chalets was a smaller climb up to Lac d’Anterne, a beautiful blue glacial lake on the side of a large, marshy basin. There were even some icebergs floating in the water.
I left the lake to make the last climb, finally reaching Col Anterne in the evening after chasing it all day. The way up had lots of snow, more than I expected to have to deal with. While I was climbing up the sky turned dark and I was worried I would be caught in a storm. The view from the col was spectacular, to many peaks and a huge valley. I didn’t stay too long though, since I didn’t want to risk the storm. There was a shelter just a half hour on, down a rocky slope.
The Refuge de Moëde Anterne had a small cafe and I stopped on for a coffee and to see what the weather would do. The Scots were there already, tent set up beside the refuge, and we said hello and talked about the day.
I left the refuge late, after 6:30 at night, since the storm had moved on and you had to pay to camp at the refuge. There was no one else walking on the trail this late, but the views into the valley were incredible. It was a huge valley, with massive forested mountains on either side and a beautiful river running through the middle. An absolutely idyllic scene in the setting sunlight.
I found a campsite really late, by the ruins of Chalets de Moëde. It had been quite steep heading down into the valley and the climb back up was on a narrow lath, so I was lucky to find anything at all. It turned out to be a great site: a bit angled, but with a view worth every step it took to reach it.