Following our Experiments on the Edge of Control, we sat on the sun terrace with the dogs. A Polish family came along and told us to go to Hel.
We had been discussing our lifestyle and travels with them. Needless to say, they were a little envious, but when they found out that we were planning to go to Poland, they said “You must go to Hel. It is one of the best windsurfing spots in Poland!”
We are busy making future travel plans because spring is coming to the mountains. A bank that was under half a metre of snow last week is now resplendent with dainty white crocuses, plus one single purple bloom. In the woods, until recently scentless and crystallised, we inhaled deeply the sweet, resinous aroma of pine. The snow-muffled silence of the valley has given way to the trill of birdsong overlaying a background of the rushing waters of the River Lys, which is now a torrent, not a stream, as she fills with meltwater.
As far as skiing went, we got out our ski gear and had the skis propped up against the doorway. Then we sat in the sun and Ruby started cuddling me.
We had a couple of cups of tea. Then a bunch of Saisonnaires from Champoluc joined us. Then the waitress told us that a small dog called Kalynka was coming to see us at three o’clock. “My English is not very good!” she said. Intrigued, we waited and the penny dropped when our new, 7-year-old Polish friend, Kalina, made a return visit with her lovely family to play with the dogs. So, we never did quite get skiing..!
The following day, we had perfect blue sky again. Yawn! However, the dogs also have their wicked ways of trying to stop us from going out skiing. They cuddle… They blockade the door – and even look at us with sad eyes.
BUT WE ARE BRUTAL – AND WE DID IT! We went out skiing. There was quite a rare moment where Mark and I were within 1km of each other. I’m afraid that I have finally lost him. I can no longer keep up!
And then it snowed. For over 24 hours. We were on avalanche risk 4 (‘High’) with no visibility. Nevertheless, we ventured forth, expecting powder. Instead, we encountered the snowy equivalent of antimatter. Coming into contact with matter (our skis) it consumed them! “This is not champagne powder!” I complained to Mark as we wallowed and sank in snow the consistency of porridge. We skied through the trees near Mandria and passed a lady instructor as we popped back on to the piste. Our thighs were burning with the effort of pushing through the liquid concrete. She looked at us and, as if reading our minds, she concurred “It is oh-reeble!”
I tweaked my good knee trying to turn in it and Mark, his good shoulder when he launched out of the front door because his ski hit a rock. After all this snow, we had been considering extending our stay for another week. This made up our minds beyond doubt! We ploughed our way home in rain. RAIN! We heard a rumble and saw an avalanche cascade down the flanks of Telcio. I think our season is over!
We took in our skis for storage wax and brought forward our Channel Tunnel crossing.
It was the last time that we would drive down our magical valley before leaving. We passed so many waterfalls, free falling for hundreds if not thousands of feet. The kind of waterfalls that would each be a tourist attraction back in the UK. They dwarfed the likes of Swallow Falls or Aira Force. We stopped to do our little river walk along the Lys at Gressoney St Jean for the last time.
The Walser settlement of Alpenzu Grande was now just on the snow line. It was inhabited year-round until the beginning of the 20th century. I wouldn’t mind inhabiting its lofty lodges now!
We had tried to walk up to Alpenzu earlier in the season. We struggled on the icy steps of the precipitous mule track, which is the only way to access to the village. We finally abandoned our attempt when we met a man wearing crampons descending! Subsequently, we never quite got round to it…
So, we have no choice. We will need to come back next year and make sure that we do!
For us, there are only two seasons, “skiing” and “caravan.”
Join us next time as we make tracks before preparing to go where no van has gone before!
If you have missed any of this season’s (“skiing”) blogs, they are all listed in chronological order on the page Pups on Piste.
For last season’s (“caravan”) blogs, see Fur Babies in France.
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